Tag Archives: foreign investors

OSFI to take new measures to address equity-based mortgage loans

The federal regulator plans to address uninsured mortgages granted only on the equity of the property and loans where the lender didn’t apply other ‘prudent underwriting principles’

OSFI is taking measures to tighten the scrutiny of mortgage lending practices.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

A federal regulator says it will have to take further action to address mortgage approvals by Canadian banks that still depend too much on the amount of equity in a home, and not enough on whether loans can actually be paid back.

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions telegraphed the move in an update released Monday on the effectiveness of new underwriting rules it announced last year. Those rules included a new “stress test” for uninsured mortgages, where a borrower makes a down payment of 20 per cent or more.

According to OSFI’s October newsletter, the tweaks were needed after the regulator identified possible trouble spots caused by high levels of household debt and “imbalances” in some real estate markets that could have added more risk for banks.

There have been improvements in the quality of new mortgage loans since the revised B-20 guidelines came into effect this past January, OSFI says, “including higher average credit scores and lower average loan-to-value at mortgage origination.”

But even though OSFI said the new rules “are having the desired effect of helping to keep Canada’s financial system strong and resilient,” the regulator claims more work is needed.

“Although reduced, there continues to be evidence of mortgage approvals that over rely on the equity in the property (at the expense of assessing the borrower’s ability to repay the loan),” the newsletter said. “OSFI will be taking steps to ensure this sort of equity lending ceases.”

OSFI spokeswoman Annik Faucher told the Financial Post in an email that the regulator was referring to uninsured mortgages that were granted based only on the equity of the property — the difference between a property’s value and the amount remaining on a borrower’s mortgage for the property — as well as loans where the lender did not necessarily apply the other “prudent underwriting principles” laid out in the B-20 guideline, such as those aimed at proper documentation of income.

“Sound underwriting helps protect lenders and borrowers and supports financial system resilience,” Faucher said. “Having a larger amount of equity in a property does not mean sound underwriting practices and borrower due diligence do not apply.”

She added that OSFI “has a number of tools in its supervisory toolkit, and when we identify potential issues, we intervene and require financial institutions to implement remedial measures that are commensurate to the risk profile of the institution.”

OSFI said in its October newsletter that there are signs “that fewer mortgages are being approved for highly indebted or over-leveraged individuals.” According to the regulator, the amount of uninsured mortgage originations with loan amounts greater than 4.5 times the borrower’s income has dropped from 20 per cent from April to July of 2017 to 14 per cent for the same period of 2018.

In general, the Canadian housing market has cooled following intervention by regulators and various governments. But OSFI also said it realizes that its tighter underwriting rules might cause some would-be homeowners to use less-than-truthful means to obtain mortgages.

“OSFI recognizes that tightened underwriting standards may increase the incentive for some borrowers to misrepresent their income, while it has also become easier to create authentic-looking false documents,” the newsletter said. “Given that the revised B-20 calls for more consistent application of income verification processes, financial institutions need to be even more vigilant in their efforts to detect and prevent income misrepresentation. This is particularly important for financial institutions that depend on third-party distribution channels.”

Source: Financial Post – Geoff Zochodne October 9, 2018

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Top 10 Most Expensive Condo Buildings in Mississauga

 

Back in the early 2000s, it wasn’t uncommon to hear warnings about the ongoing condo boom in Mississauga and surrounding cities.

“They’re over saturating the market,” they said.

“Their value will drop like a rock soon and people will be horrified they spent $200,000 on a box in the sky! They’ll be lucky to sell it for $100,000!”

Now, in 2018, it doesn’t look like the condo market experienced the dreaded crash that naysayers insisted developers were tempting with every new build.

In fact, some condo buildings feature very costly units.

As low-rise home prices have gone up, so has demand for more affordable condo units, which have become the new “starter home” in many corners of the GTA.

Toronto-based real estate brokerage and website Zoocasa says that Mississauga is a particularly popular buying destination, offering good value as well as return on real estate investment.

Zoocasa says that, over the last year, Mississauga condo prices rose 5.5 per cent to $435,254.

“This has all contributed to steady demand for units – but some buildings are appreciating in value at a faster clip than others,” Zoocasa says.

To identify which Mississauga buildings fetch the most for a unit, Zoocasa analyzed sales in over 100 developments in the city, where at least five transactions had taken place, and averaging the square foot based on TREB sold data for the 2018 year to date.

Here’s a look at the priciest buildings:

Naturally, some of the most expensive buildings—North Shore, Number 1 City Centre Condos, Pinnacle Grand Park and Limelight—are centered around Square One.

According to Zoocasa, units in these buildings can cost up to $674 per sqaure foot.

“Immediate takeaways from the data is that the most expensive buildings are largely clustered around the Mississauga city centre, with a few closer to Lake Ontario,” Zoocasa says.

“None of the buildings were located north of Eglinton Avenue. In addition, the buildings skew newer, with the oldest one having been registered in 2004, and the majority after 2012.”

So there you have it—if you’re looking for a more affordable unit, you might have better luck with a more mature building outside of the Square One area.

Source: Insauga – by Ashley Newport on July 28, 2018

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Ontario’s 16 new housing measures

Houses are seen in a suburb located north of Toronto in Vaughan, Canada, June 29, 2015.

The Ontario government has announced what it calls a comprehensive housing package aimed at cooling a red-hot real estate market on Thursday. Here are the 16 proposed measures:

  • A 15-per-cent non-resident speculation tax to be imposed on buyers in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area who are not citizens, permanent residents or Canadian corporations.
  • Expanded rent control that will apply to all private rental units in Ontario, including those built after 1991, which are currently excluded.
  • Updates to the Residential Tenancies Act to include a standard lease agreement, tighter provisions for “landlord’s own use” evictions, and technical changes to the Landlord-Tenant Board meant to make the process fairer, as well as other changes.
  • A program to leverage the value of surplus provincial land assets across the province to develop a mix of market-price housing and affordable housing.
  • Legislation that would allow Toronto and possibly other municipalities to introduce a vacant homes property tax in an effort to encourage property owners to sell unoccupied units or rent them out.
  • A plan to ensure property tax for new apartment buildings is charged at a similar rate as other residential properties.
  • A five-year, $125-million program aimed at encouraging the construction of new rental apartment buildings by rebating a portion of development charges.
  • More flexibility for municipalities when it comes to using property tax tools to encourage development.
  • The creation of a new Housing Supply Team with dedicated provincial employees to identify barriers to specific housing development projects and work with developers and municipalities to find solutions.
  • An effort to understand and tackle practices that may be contributing to tax avoidance and excessive speculation in the housing market.
  • A review of the rules real estate agents are required to follow to ensure that consumers are fairly represented in real estate transactions.
  • The launch of a housing advisory group which will meet quarterly to provide the government with ongoing advice about the state of the housing market and discuss the impact of the measures and any additional steps that are needed
  • Education for consumers on their rights, particularly on the issue of one real estate professional representing more than one party in a real estate transaction.
  • A partnership with the Canada Revenue Agency to explore more comprehensive reporting requirements so that correct federal and provincial taxes, including income and sales taxes, are paid on purchases and sales of real estate in Ontario.
  • Set timelines for elevator repairs to be established in consultation with the sector and the Technical Standards & Safety Authority.
  • Provisions that would require municipalities to consider the appropriate range of unit sizes in higher density residential buildings to accommodate a diverse range of household sizes and incomes, among other things.

Source: The Canadian Press – April 20, 2017

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Impact of Trump win on Canada’s real estate: Time to hunker down in your cottages

U.s. presidential election - donald trump

The world’s collective jaws dropped after the early morning announcement: The next President of the United States is reality-TV star, Donald Trump.

But Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential race raises more questions than confidence—which was reflected in the greenback’s dip early this morning while safe-haven sovereign bonds and gold shot higher. The market is now reflecting fears of a prolonged global uncertainty over the new presidential leader’s policies.

What happens to interest (and mortgage) rates?

For the last few weeks, analysts were predicting that the U.S. Federal Reserve was poised to gradually start increasing interest rates, to reflect the country’s slowly growing economy. Trump’s win may have scuttled this strategy.

Part of the problem is that Trump’s promise to deport 11 million workers—because they presumably entered the country illegally—will have a dangerous impact on America’s currently tight labour market.

Unemployment in the U.S. dipped to its lowest in June at 4.9%. “The country is entering what economists call full employment,” says Phil Soper, CEO of Royal LePage. “By taking that many workers out of the labour force, Trump could bring business to a grinding halt.” Quite simply, it’s a plan that most business people and many leading economists say is very damaging both to the U.S. and to the Canadian economy.

Remove that many workers from the labour pool and you create a labour shortage, which could prompt businesses to contract and slow down in order to fend-off the quickly rising cost of wages.

To combat a business contraction, the U.S. Federal Reserve may abandon decisions to start raising interest rates. The idea is that by keeping rates low, the Fed will continue to encourage banks to lend money and convince businesses to expand (through the use of cheap credit). But it’s been six years of near-zero rates. For many it was time to start seeing better returns. With prolonged low rates from the Feds, it’s unlikely that the Bank of Canada will increase rates, so we can probably expect a prolonged ultra-low rate environment in both Canada and the U.S.

 

Impact on home buyers: Continued low mortgage rates

For anyone buying a home, Trump’s win may help suppress any potential mortgage rate increase that was on the horizon.

This continued low-rate environment won’t stop the slight uptick in mortgage rates, caused by the recent Federal Liberal mortgage rule changes. However, it may prompt different levels of government to consider alternative methods for cooling heated housing markets. According to CBC.ca, Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa believes:

“something has to be done” to help people deal with soaring home prices in Toronto.

Sousa is poised to make an announcement next week as to how provincial government will help first-time buyers in Toronto, without hurting home prices in surrounding areas.

For tips on how U.S. citizens can buy in Canada, visit the BRELTeam’s primer on buying homes in Canada.

Impact on home sellers: Could be a rush to buy in Canada

Trump’s presidential win could be a boon for some home sellers in Canada. We could actually see a surge in demand for Canadian homes, says Soper. “Some [Americans] may be so fed-up that they decide to head north.”

This would certainly bolster “Brand Canada,” says SopeMo, as more demand may help support real estate prices, particularly in larger urban centres. Of course, this assumes the American dollar won’t lose value and remove the relatively high purchasing power a U.S. buyer would have in Canada.

If Americans do decide to move north, sellers in bigger urban centres could see the biggest impact as the U.S. dollar still has about 30% more buying power than the Loonie. Home sellers in Vancouver, however, shouldn’t expect a big uptick in American interest, as the Foreign Buyer’s tax that was announced and introduced this past August, will probably dampen interest in property in the Lower Mainland.

 

Impact on vacation properties: Hunker down

Probably the biggest impact will be felt by vacation property owners. Americans are the largest foreign buyers of Canadian property. “Part of the reason is the relative affordability of our recreational properties based on the strength of the American dollar,” says Soper. But the dip in U.S. currency, could mean a wholesale withdrawal from the Canadian vacation property market—and this could impact Canada’s recreational property market for years.

For instance, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were extremely popular destinations for Americans prior to the 2008/2009 financial collapse. But after the global credit crunch, cottages and lake-front home prices plunged as much as 60%. Some of these markets are still in the process or recovering, almost a decade later.

 

Impact on house prices across Canada is uncertain

The impact of Trump’s election doesn’t stop there. Pre-election promises to place massive tariffs on Chinese imported goods and to “tear-up NAFTA” could mean trading-wars that could seriously impede Canada’s currently slow-growing economy.

In relative terms, trade is much more important to Canada than to the United States. The Americans can afford to be insular since they have 325 million people in their market to our less than 35 million. “Any protectionist stance from the U.S. would do significant damage to Canada,” says Soper. And any hit in our slow-growing economy could further prolong our climb out of the ultra-low interest rate environment. Worse, it could prompt lay-offs in certain parts of the country, where exports and trade help shape the local economies. This will impact localized housing markets.

Think Alberta and low oil prices, and you get the picture.

Source: Money Sense – by   November 9th, 2016

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Major mistakes investors make when buying U.S. real estate

 

There are still opportunities to take advantage of U.S. real estate, according to one veteran who has penned a guide for Canadians interested in purchasing property down south.

“The number one mistake is they don’t own it the way they need to own it based on their circumstances. For example, they may own it as a Canadian corporation; well, that’s perfectly legitimate in Canada but owning real estate in that way in the U.S. causes double taxation,” Dale Walters, author of Buying Real Estate in the US: The Concise Guide for Canadians, told Canadian Real Estate Wealth. “If you get a U.S. advisor, they may recommend they use an LLC. Hopefully the word is out now that in Canada that would cause double taxation.”

Walters’ book focuses a great deal on tax implications for Canadians who purchase real estate down south as well as information on the best way to own a property.

“The book is informational; it’s a tax book primarily. How do you own real estate in the U.S., what’s the proper way of owning it, the options, what are the tax consequences of the various ways of owning it because each way is a different tax outcome,” he said. “How do you deal with rental income and what are the tax consequences of that. You’ve got potential liability issues, how to protect yourself, non-resident estate tax potential – all of those things I cover.”

It can be daunting to purchase real estate overseas, but Walters argues there are still opportunities for all different kinds of investors; including deals for those looking to own vacation properties, become full-time landlords, and those interested in commercial properties.

There are also various markets that provide different risk profiles.

Walters believes there are two major reasons Canadians are still interested in U.S. real estate: Diversification and the availability of bargains.

“The usual markets that have market appreciation potential which would be, generally speaking, the sun belt. Southern California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida, primarily,” Walters said. “If you’re looking at some higher-risk, possibly higher opportunity, you still have places like Detroit and places like that.”

Source: Real Estate Wealth –by Justin da Rosa26 Oct 2016

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Trudeau government to close foreign-buyers loophole

A broker puts up a For Sale sign before an open house in Toronto in this 2015 file photo. (Darren Calabrese For The Globe and Mail)

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will unveil Monday new measures aimed at slowing the flood of foreign money pouring into overheated housing markets like Vancouver and Toronto, a significant federal intervention in the sector.

Ottawa will close a tax loophole that allows non-residents to buy homes and later claim a tax exemption on the sales, a government source said Sunday. The government plans to make sure the principal-residence exemption is only available to individuals who reside in Canada in the year the home is purchased.

Housing prices have soared dramatically the last few years in the Vancouver and Toronto markets, triggering a vigorous debate about the role of foreign money. British Columbia has responded by imposing a 15-per-cent foreign buyers tax on homes and collecting data on who is buying property in the province. Ottawa has also been preoccupied with the issue, with Mr. Morneau creating a working group to conduct a “deep dive” into the state of the housing market and make recommendations on possible policy actions.

Mr. Morneau will announce new measures to combat offshore speculation, including closing the loophole, in a speech in Toronto on Monday. The moves follow a Globe and Mail investigation that revealed a network of speculators flipping homes for profit and avoiding taxes by classifying them as principal residences.

Under the Canadian tax code, homeowners do not have to report the sale of any property that they designate their principal residence, and do not pay tax on the increased value – or capital gains – of that home. In order to make that designation, a homeowner, their current or former spouse or any of their children must have lived in it at some time during the year for which the designation is claimed.

However, there has been widespread abuse of the exemption by foreign buyers who claim residency either for themselves or their spouses or children simply in order to avoid paying taxes on real estate speculation. Non-resident investors must pay capital gains tax at the time of a sale.

Multiple sources have told The Globe of the widespread abuse of the primary-residency exemptions in the Greater Vancouver area. The Globe has seen hundreds of cases in which homemakers or students were listed as registered owners on multimillion-dollar residential properties.

The new measure would make the exemptions available only to home buyers who are residents at the time of purchase.

The Globe’s investigation discovered these cases usually involve a wealthy breadwinner who earns their living in another country, while parking money in Canada, through buying residential properties. Some of the homes are used by family members; others are simply left vacant.

Several expert sources told The Globe there are two ways to exploit the system – to sell those properties and pay no taxes. In the first scenario, the breadwinner claims to be a non-resident of Canada and pays no taxes here, while their spouse and children buy and sell homes registered in their names. The homes are purchased with money received as a “gift” from the breadwinner. The homes can then be sold tax-free, because the family members claim to be residents of Canada, classify the properties as their principal residences, and therefore pay no tax when they sell.

There is more widespread abuse in a second scenario, according to experts. That is when the breadwinner claims to be a resident of Canada but then doesn’t report their worldwide income to the Canada Revenue Agency, as required by law. Because they claim to be residents, they can sell Canadian properties in their name, tax-free, even if they spend little or no time in Canada.

If these homeowners make their living in China, experts said it’s difficult for anyone to determine what they actually earn, because it’s next to impossible to get tax records from that country, even though China and Canada have a long-standing tax treaty. As a result, experts say, these wealthy people get away with claiming little or no income on their Canadian tax returns, while selling homes tax-free.

Tax accountants and lawyers who handle these cases told The Globe this can be done with multiple properties, primarily because the CRA doesn’t require any resident to report any sale of a principal residence. Taxpayers simply have to fill out a form, but keep it for their own records, instead of submitting that information with their taxes.

Experts have urged Ottawa to require taxpayers to report the sale of all homes, even if they are claiming the principal-residence exemption.

“Everybody’s biggest lifetime gain is from principal residence and [Canada Revenue Agency] is saying if you are a resident it is tax free and if you are a resident we don’t worry,” one Vancouver real estate accountant said Sunday. He spoke on the condition he not be identified out of fear of repercussions.

“So the CRA pushes them into residency claims. A wife and kid are allowed to stay in Canada as a resident and as such they are entitled to tax-free principal residence and as such they don’t have to report it.”

Mr. Morneau announced in June that the government was studying developments in the housing sector, with his department working with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. and the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions while consulting with provincial and municipal officials.

In a bid to cool its hot housing market, British Columbia introduced a foreign-buyers tax this summer which applies to the sale of all residential properties within 22 communities of metro Vancouver.

The levy applies to buyers who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents, and corporations that are either not registered in Canada or are controlled by foreigners, and adds $300,000 to the purchase of a $2-million home.

The CRA says it completed nearly 2,500 audits related to real estate in B.C. and Ontario between April, 2015, and June, 2016, and that the agency plans to do as many or more next year.

Source: SHAWN MCCARTHY AND KATHY TOMLINSON

OTTAWA and VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail

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Tax implications for selling a U.S. property

I’m considering selling my property in the U.S. I know I’ll need to pay capital gains on the appreciated value but do I claim the gains in U.S. or Canadian currency?

—Paul and Barb, Fort McMurray, Alta.

Timing is everything, in both comedy and taxes. According to Philippe Brideau, spokesperson for the CRA, both the cost of the property to buy and the proceeds of the sale must be converted into Canadian dollars using the exchange rate at the time of each transaction. You then report the capital gain, or loss, on your tax return based on “the difference between those two Canadian dollar amounts.” But the CRA isn’t the only tax collector to consider. The U.S. also cares about that property sale, explains Kim Moody of Calgary-based Moodys Gartner Tax Law. “A Canadian needs to first report a gain or loss in the U.S. by filing a U.S. tax return—form 1040NR—and paying any applicable U.S. taxes.” Expect to pay a withholding tax to the Internal Revenue Service, which you claim as a foreign tax credit on your Canadian tax return. Now, if this is a place in the sunny south, I hope you get to enjoy one last season down there.

Source: MoneySense.ca – Bruce Sellery February 2016

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