Soapboxes, Popcorn and Credit Cards. Oh My!
By my count, on a random Thursday night, as I have a glass of wine and some microwave popcorn for supper, there have been about 9 sweeping regulatory changes in the Canadian mortgage market since 2007.
Lets go back to 2007.
At that time, I was in love forever, I wore a size 26 pair of jeans and my Canadian Blue Chips were pulling in a lazy 15% return, all while I was trying to figure out what was going on in Lost. (What exactly was the black smoke monster? Did they ever really ever circle back to that?) Speaking of smoke, all of this went up in it.
That same year, I left my cush bank gig for the rock n roll lifestyle of a mortgage broker because I was promised endless sandwiches and the ability to cuss whenever I wanted. And here I am. Exactly 10 years later. Truly, the sandwiches and profanity are the only constants in this market. Everything else is flipped and reversed.
There are probably a couple of changes in how your mortgage is qualified that we should address. So, let me just lay this out for you:
Firstly....you kind of need a paper trail and reasonable track record of the income that you earn over a legit period of time that would lead someone to the logical conclusion that you can afford a payment on a big thing like a whole entire house.
I knowbanks are assholes. But lets just devils advocate this one.
If you have a salary or guaranteed base hours and that can be confirmed by your employer, we can use that to determine how much of a mortgage payment you can afford by the banks guidelines. If you have any fluctuating income, are self-employed or working on a contract basis, youre going to need to show a two-year track record of how thats been playing out. Or, youre going to need to pony up a more sizable down payment to mitigate the possibility of a dip in your earnings.
Does that really seem so unreasonable? Youre buying a WHOLE ENTIRE HOUSE!
Second...ifyou have credit card debt, or lines of credit which are readvancible*, we are going to assign, on your mortgage application, a completely fictitious, super-high payment that you dont contractually, morally or reasonably ever have to pay and will effect the price of the home the banks determine that you can afford by their guidelines. (And when I say super-high, I mean James Franco super-high.) Oh and by the way, youre completely screwing your credit!
*Readvancible means that its not a loan that you would make set payments on over a predetermined amount of time until its paid. Rather, its a credit limit, like a credit card or line of credit.
And I have a serious beef on this point.
When it comes to your credit card debt and how its required to be appropriated on your mortgage application, the banks blame the feds who regulate the banks. The feds wag their fingers at the consumers who misuse the credit limits. The credit limits are glad-handed by the banks to anyone with a pulse. The banks blame the feds and the feds blame us and the banks blame
You get where this is going, right? To Bullshitsville! Thats where.
Take control. If you are holding credit card debt or balances on lines of credit, you are putting undue pressure on your capacity to carry a mortgage. You may have some interest-only, easy-street, payment arrangement written in blood on your 20% annual interest contract. However, the banks are assigning a very large, made up payment for the purpose of qualifying a mortgage. (The same bank that said Hey! Here! Have this interest-only, easy-street credit card! Youve made it, Cuz! Drinks for everyone!) And then you cant qualify for your mortgage.
This is a thing. Its happening.
And not to kick you while youre down but if you are holding more than 50% balance on your credit card, in relation to the overall credit limit, your credit score is abysmal. This is true. Call your handy dandy mortgage broker. We see credit reports by the dozen, on the daily. And we can help. We have access to the whole puppetshow. We know where all the strings are. And when I say we, I actually mean more specifically me. I can help. Its pretty much my lifes work.
On a side note, its been 10 years for me as a mortgage broker this month. This is a tough industry. So, I think that makes me officially biker-gang badass. And Im celebrating with wine and microwave popcorn.
Like a black smoke baller.
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.