It PAYS to shop around.
Many Canadian homeowners pay too much for their homes because they are not getting the best mortgage financing available in the market.
The mortgage process can be intimidating for homeowners, and some financial institutions don't make the process any easier.
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Keep it Simple
Keep it simple when buying a houseSpring is here, which means increased activity in the real estate market. If you are thinking of buying a house, keep these simple tips in mind.Decide whether the time is right for you to buy – “If you currently own a house, you should buy and sell at the same time, which will help ensure you don’t sell low and buy high,” explains Chartered Professional Accountant Eli Palachi, a partner with Crowe Soberman LLP in Toronto. “If you are a first-time purchaser, try to buy when you can secure low mortgage rates so that your monthly cash outflow is lower.”Determine what you can afford – “Establish a budget that includes the cost of the new house and then try living with that budget for a while to make sure you won’t become financially strapped and end up house rich and cash poor,” advises Chartered Professional Accountant Albert Yu, a sales representative with RE/MAX Hallmark Realty Ltd. in Toronto. “Mortgage rates are at historically low levels these days. But keep in mind that every one-per-cent increase in interest rates means you can buy 10-per-cent less house.” Yu says your budget should also include other costs, including a rainy day fund that covers three to six months’ worth of expenses, retirement savings and a children’s education fund. Your Chartered Accountant can help you set up a realistic budget and help with decisions on how to finance a house purchase.Don’t forget to factor in the hidden costs – “In addition to the price of the house itself, your other costs include legal fees associated with closing the sale, adjustments for property tax and utilities, the land transfer tax, mortgage fees, house appraisal fees and moving,” says Palachi. “If you are buying a bigger house, you may also have higher insurance costs.”Shop around for the best mortgage rate – “Speak to several banks to see what their rates are,” says Palachi. “It doesn’t hurt to get an idea of what competitive rates are, and banks don’t charge a fee or commission for securing financing. Your CA can also introduce you to mortgage officials at the bank.” If you are going to shop around for rates, Yu cautions against signing several applications that would result in a credit check. “Your credit score will decrease if too many checks are done at once,” he explains.Make the biggest down payment you can afford – “You must pay at least 20 per cent of the purchase price down to avoid a high-ratio mortgage and paying one-time Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation premiums,” explains Yu. A larger down payment will also lower your monthly payments.
National house price index rises again in August
The national HPI has grown at a below-inflation rate of 0.6% over the last 12 months. However, the weakness is not regionally broad-based. The national HPI has been depressed by 12 consecutive months without a rise in Vancouvers index, which dropped a cumulative 6.6%. Other Western metropolitan areas (Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg) also contributed to slow the national HPI. At the opposite, annual growth has been decent in most of the regions located in the central and eastern part of the country. That being said, home sales in August were up 55% from March in Vancouver, where market conditions went from favorable to buyers to balanced. Over that period, home sales rose 19% in Calgary and 12% in Edmonton. These improvements, if sustained, will sooner or later help limit home-price deflation in this region.
The TeranetNational Bank Composite National House Price IndexTM increased 0.4% in August, a fourth gain in a row after an eight-month string without a rise.
On a monthly basis, the index rose in 8 of the 11 markets covered: Victoria (+0.2%), Calgary (+0.6%), Hamilton (0.7%), Winnipeg (0.7%), Toronto (+0.8%), Montreal (1.1%), Ottawa-Gatineau (1.7%) and Halifax (1.8%). The index was down in Vancouver (-0.8%), Quebec City (-0.4%) and Edmonton (-0.1%).
From August 2018 to August 2019, the Composite index rose 0.6%. Over the period, the HPI declined in Vancouver (-6.6%), Edmonton (-3.1%), Calgary (-2.3%). It was marginally up in Quebec City (0.1%), Victoria (0.7%) and Winnipeg (1.1%). It grew more convincingly in Toronto (+3.8%), Hamilton (+4.4%), Halifax (5.5%), Montreal (+5.7%) and Ottawa-Gatineau (+6.4%).
Source: National Bank, Marc Pinsonneault
CREA Updates Resale Housing Market Forecast
The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) has updated its forecast for home sales activity via the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) Systems of Canadian real estate boards and associations for the rest of 2019 and looking ahead to 2020.
Economic fundamentals underpinning housing activity remain strong outside of the Prairies and Newfoundland and Labrador. Population and employment growth have both remained supportive and the unemployment rate remains low. At the same time, expectations have become widespread that the Bank of Canada is unlikely to raise interest rates over the rest of the year and into next.
More importantly for home buyers and housing markets, longer-term mortgage rates have been declining. Among those that have declined is the Bank of Canadas benchmark five-year rate used by banks to qualify mortgage applicants.
Additionally, the Federal Government has recently launched its First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, a shared equity program in which the federal government finances a portion of a home purchase in exchange for an equity share of the homes value.
Of these factors supporting Canadian housing activity, the decline in mortgage rates is arguably the most important development since the release in June of CREAs most recent forecast. The decline in the benchmark five-year mortgage rate has marginally relaxed the B-20 mortgage stress-test, which has dampened housing activity more than other policy changes made in recent years.
Home sales have improved by more than expected in recent months and there are early signs that home price declines in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia and across the Prairies may be abating. Meanwhile, home prices are re-accelerating across Ontarios Greater Golden Horseshoe region.
Strong economic fundamentals, previously unexpected declines in mortgage interest rates and stronger than previously expected housing market trends in British Columbia and Ontario have resulted in CREA upwardly revising forecast home sales in 2019 and 2020. Nonetheless, the overall level of national sales activity this year and next is anticipated to remain below levels recorded prior to the implementation of the B-20 stress test.
National home sales are now projected to recover to 482,000 units in 2019, representing a 5% increase from the five-year low recorded in 2018. While this is an upward revision of 19,000 transactions compared to CREAs previous forecast (85% of which is due to upgraded British Columbia and Ontario forecasts), it represents a return of activity to its 10-year annual average. It also remains well below the annual record set in 2016, when almost 540,000 homes traded hands. Notwithstanding the upward revision, the forecast for 2019 on a per capita basis remains the second weakest since 2001.