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Housing and the Big, Bad, Budget
A lot has been said about Thursday's budget announcement. From Flaherty's shoe selection to a vague job-training program, many Canadian's were left slightly confused following the much-anticipated announcement. With that being said, Flaherty's eighth (and potentially final) budget announcement could have been worse, especially for the mortgage industry. Thursday's budget included a tightening of controls on mortgage lending once again, as well as another promise to further limit lender access to bulk mortgage insurance. While this will inconvenience some lenders, it's actually good news for taxpayers. The announcement is just the latest in a long line of moves from the Finance Department that touch on concerns over the housing market. As Canadian's continue to sink themselves deeper into household debt, Flaherty once again verbalized his mounting anxiety over interest rates. “Our concern, my concern for a number of years, is with very low interest rates that people can afford their mortgages when interest rates go up,” Flaherty told reporters while purchasing is budget-day shoes, a long-running Canadian tradition, at a Roots factory in Toronto on Wednesday. The Housing Market Under a MicroscopeFlaherty has made a career out of meddling in the in the mortgage market, influencing a number of policy changes in the past decade. And while home sales have slowed significantly and prices are beginning to drop in some of the critical markets since Ottawa's intervention last summer, Flaherty still feels that more needs to be done to protect consumers from themselves. As the economy slowly begins to right itself and interest rates eventually begin to rise, economists like Flaherty are worried that current mortgage holders won't be able to meet their increased mortgage payments. And since Ottawa backstops mortgage insurance, the Canadian taxpayer would be on the hook to cover this exposure. The Bad Side of Bulk Mortgage InsuranceMortgage insurance, which is backed up by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, is intended to help consumers with low down payments enter the housing market more easily. Unfortunately, over time, it's also become a tool for banks to manage their risk. Banks' appetite for bulk mortgage insurance (also referred to as portfolio insurance) has continue to grow over the years. In fact, it's one of the main factors behind the government-owned CMHC's growing balance sheet. You see, whenever a new homeowner purchases a house without the mandatory 20 percent down, the mortgage needs to be insured to protect the lender. However, banks also offer this extended coverage to insure large swaths, or portfolios, of mortgages that don't necessarily need the protection. The budget states that, “With the financial crisis well behind us, the government is amending the rules for portfolio insurance to increase market discipline in residential lending and reduce taxpayer exposure to the housing sector.” New RulesFallout from the budget will include new rules that will gradually limit the sale of insurance on low loan-to-value mortgages (i.e. mortgages where the consumer ponies up a higher down payment) to those that are being used in Ottawa's securitization program through the CMHC. This will prevent banks from insuring their portfolio mortgage products in order to reduce their capital requirements. Flaherty's changes will also enable Ottawa to stop the use of any taxpayer-backed insured mortgages (even the high ratio ones)as collateral in securities that are not sponsored by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation. This will protect Ottawa's potential exposure. Flaherty and the Department of Finance noted that they intend to further consult with the finance industry before implementing this rules later in the year. In the meantime, financial institutions will continue to have access to a broad array of financing options. As always, we'll follow this story as it unfolds right here on the Mortgage Talk Canada Blog.
Canadian home sales activity strengthens in July
Statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) show national home sales were up from June to July 2018.
National home sales rose 1.9% from June to July.
Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down 1.3% from July 2017.
The number of newly listed homes edged down 1.2% from June to July.
The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) in July was up 2.1% year-over-year (y-o-y).
The national average sale price edged up 1% y-o-y.
National home sales via Canadian MLS Systems rose 1.9% in July 2018, building on increases in each of the two previous months but still running below levels recorded from mid-2013 to the end of last year. Led by the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), more than half of all local housing markets reported an increase sales activity from June to July.
Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down 1.3% y-o-y. The result reflects fewer sales in major urban centres in British Columbia and an offsetting improvement in activity in the GTA.
This years new stress-test on mortgage applicants continues to weigh on home sales but its effect may be starting to fade slightly in Toronto and nearby markets, said CREA President Barb Sukkau. The degree to which the stress-test continues to sideline home buyers varies depending on location, housing type and price range. All real estate is local, and REALTORSremain your best source for information about sales and listings where you live or might like to in the future, said Sukkau.
Improving national home sales activity in recent months obscures significant differences in regional trends for home sales and prices, said Gregory Klump, CREAs Chief Economist. Regardless, rising interest rates and this years stress test on mortgage applicants will likely prove to be difficult hurdles to overcome for many would-be first time and move-up homebuyers, heading into the second half of the year and beyond.
Hacks to slash your car expenses
(NC) When you consider the rising costs of gas and insurance, owning a vehicle can get pricey. Fortunately, these easy tips can help lower how much you spend on your car so theres more room in your budget for other expenses, like groceries and recreation.
Increase your fuel economy. Did you know that a small spark plug problem can lead to a big expense? A dirty spark plug can cause a misfire, which wastes fuel and can ultimately harm your engine. To combat this, look for a spark plug thats designed for improved fuel economy, like the those from Fram. Try the Autolite Iridium XP Enhanced Alloy Technology line, which is precisely engineered with a focused ignition point for maximum power, efficiency and life.
Get regular tune-ups. When a vehicle is properly tuned, all systems work in harmony, including the fuel, ignition, emission and computer systems. While it can be a hassle getting to regular appointments at your mechanic or dealer, remember that you are investing in the long-term performance of your car, saving you time and money. Regular engine tune-ups bring power and efficiency back to your car, ensuring that its reliable, safe and road-ready.
Change your filters. There are many ways to keep your engine in good shape, helping it to last longer. One is checking the air filter every time you have the oil changed, because engine life and durability are directly related to keeping incoming air clean. Its an air filters job to remove contaminants from the air before it goes into the engine, and neglecting this component results in reduced performance. Fram extra guard filters provide premium engine protection and are proven to let in two times less dirt than the average leading standard retail brands.