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BLOG / NEWS Updates
Positive News for First-Time Homebuyers…
We welcome the Conservative Governments announcement today proposing to increase the RRSP Home Buyers Plan (HBP) withdrawal up to $35,000 from the current $25,000 for first-time homebuyers. If implemented, a couple buying a home together would have access to an extra $20,000 of their RRSPs to help with their down payment and other expenses relating to their home purchase. Borrowers are considered first-timers if, in the past four years, they have not lived in a home that they or their current spouse/common-law partner owned. (See Conditions.) As you may be aware, CAAMP regularly visits both federal and provincial government officials. This announcement is in line with the kind of recommendations that CAAMP makes during meetings with officials in the Ministry of Finance Office and the Prime Ministers Office. The government respects our industry-leading research and sees your association as a positive resource. Our latest research report released in June A Profile of Home Buying in Canada prepared by CAAMP Chief Economist Will Dunning shows withdrawals from RRSPs (including via the HBP) accounted for 10% of down payment funds for first-time buyers. If put into action, this proposed HBP withdrawal increase would go a long way in helping first-time homebuyers across Canada. Todays announcement follows Stephen Harpers first big-ticket promise of his campaign: another tax break for home renovations made earlier this month. Taxpayers would be able to claim up to 15% of the cost of permanent substantial renovations to homes, condos and cottages. The tax credit would apply to renovation costs between $1,000 and $5,000, allowing a taxpayer to get back up to $600 per year. We look forward to more positive housing-related announcements from other campaigns leading up to the fall election.
Minister Morneau announces new benchmark rate for qualifying insured mortgages
For many Canadians, their home is the most important investment they will make in their lifetime. That is why the Government of Canada has introduced measures to help more Canadians achieve their housing needs while also taking measured actions to contain risks in the housing market. A stable and healthy housing market is part of a strong economy, which is vital to building and supporting a strong middle class. Today, Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, announced changes to the benchmark rate used to determine the minimum qualifying rate for insured mortgages, also known as the stress test. These changes will come into effect on April 6, 2020. The new benchmark rate will be the weekly median 5-year fixed insured mortgage rate from mortgage insurance applications, plus 2%. This follows a recent review by federal financial agencies which concluded that the minimum qualifying rate should be more dynamic to better reflect the evolution of market conditions. Overall, the review concluded that mortgage standards are working to ensure that home buyers are able to afford their homes even if interest rates rise, incomes change, or families are faced with unforeseen expenses. This adjustment to the stress test will allow it to be more representative of the mortgage rates offered by lenders and more responsive to market conditions. The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) also announced today that it is considering the same new benchmark rate to determine the minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages. OSFI is seeking input from interested stakeholders on this proposal before March 17, 2020.
The Contagion of Fear
Fears of a possible coronavirus pandemic are sweeping the world. Markets are jittery with little hard data to go on. With the first case now reported in Canada, many are recalling the 2003 SARS where Canada was one of the epicenters. Arguably the biggest (economic) lesson from that experience is that fear is the biggest risk to the outlook. The impact of the SARS pandemic on the Canadian economy is difficult to estimate, confounded as it was by the slowing US economy, the invasion of Iraq and other events, but the Bank of Canada estimated -0.6ppt hit to annualized growth in Q2-2003, or just over 0.1% on the level of GDP. While it is premature to predict the path of todays coronavirus outbreak, we estimate that a SARS-equivalent pandemic today could have a similar impact on the Canadian economy with an estimated hit of just over 0.1% on the level of GDP by mid-2020, at which point a pandemic should be contained. This estimate is subject to a significant degree of uncertainty with risks skewed to a potentially larger impact. The effect should not be significant enough to trigger a broader economic malaise, but could this finally push Governor Poloz over the line to proactively stimulate the economy in his next rate call? Source: https://www.scotiabank.com/content/dam/scotiabank/sub-brands/scotiabank-economics/english/documents/insights-views/2020-01-27_IV.pdf