Tag Archives: housing affordability

New report envisions a path for longer-term mortgages

New report envisions a path for longer-term mortgages

Increasing the length of mortgage terms isn’t just about allowing consumers greater choice; it could have the added benefit of enhancing financial stability, writes Michael K. Feldman in the latest report from the C.D. Howe Institute, an independent not-for-profit research organization.

The idea of longer-term amortizations got a lot of attention in the lead-up to last fall’s federal election. PC Candidate Andrew Scheer was particularly vocal about his intent to raise amortizations for first-time homebuyers, along with various real estate boards. Lengthening mortgage terms would also have a big impact on consumers as well as the overall economy.

Feldman first waded into the conversation regarding longer-term mortgages in 2018. He has since been joined by Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz, whose remarks to the Canadian Credit Union Association in 2019 noted three ways that more variety in mortgage durations would contribute to a safer financial system: if more borrowers had longer-term mortgages, they wouldn’t face the risk of having to renew at higher interest rates as often; homeowners would have the potential to build more equity within a single term, giving them more options upon renewal; and fewer borrowers would be renewing their mortgages in any given year.

Feldman adds that longer-term mortgages act as a protection in the event of systemic instability.

“A significant downturn in the real estate market could result in the insolvency of some mortgage lenders, particularly unregulated lenders. If this were to happen, borrowers from these lenders may not be able to renew their mortgages if their lenders were being liquidated and may not be able to refinance their mortgages due to the downturn in the real estate market,” Feldman writes. “This would lead to additional defaulted mortgages, which could further depress the real estate market. This risk decreases with more longer-term mortgages because there will be fewer renewals throughout the amortization term.”

There are, however, some regulatory obstacles that stand in the way of longer mortgage terms becoming commonplace in Canada, and one of those is demand.

The government would have to provide incentives to both borrowers and lenders to jump-start this demand, and/or make some regulatory changes. Feldman writes that these changes could include revising the stress-test for longer-term mortgages.

“Since the main purpose of the stress test is to predict the ability of borrowers to continue to service their mortgages if they must renew at maturity at a higher interest rate, it would be logical to loosen the stress test for borrowers willing to fix their rates for terms longer than five years. For example, if the stress test for a 10-year mortgage was set at the contract rate plus one percent (or zero percent) without any reference to a “Bank of Canada 10-year mortgage rate” (in recognition of the added refinancing flexibility after 10 years compared to five years), then borrowers could qualify for larger mortgages by opting for 10-year mortgages. This would encourage them to seek out longer-term mortgages and require lenders to offer competitive rates to retain market share.”

Other changes include amending the Interest Act to reduce the pricing premium that a lender would have to charge for its reinvestment risk on mortgages up to 10 years and reducing that risk in general by giving borrowers a short-term redemption period; increasing covered bond limits, and developing a private residential mortgage-backed securities market.

Limiting mortgages to five-year terms is thought to have grown out of a 19th-century statute that allowed the borrower to pay off the mortgage with a set penalty of no more than three months’ interest any time after five years following the initial date of the mortgage. The practice then evolved to where borrowers could renew their mortgage for another five years after the initial five-year period, with that renewal date becoming the new date of the mortgage. As long as the lender provided borrowers the opportunity to “redeem” the mortgage once every five years, they could prevent borrowers from prepaying the mortgage in full during the rest of the term without penalty.

As a result of this evolution, lenders can avoid reinvestment risks associated with prepayments by offering mortgages and renewals with terms no longer than five years, Feldman writes. From a borrower perspective, however, if there were increased desire for 10-year mortgages and increased competition from lenders to meet the demand, the cost of prepayment penalties would be reduced.

The majority of regulated financial institutions in Canada fund most of their uninsured residential mortgages by accepting deposits, including GICs that are insured by the CDIC. The CDIC, however, may only insure deposits having a term of five years or less. This limit posts a challenge for issuing longer-term mortgages from institutions that rely on these deposits.

This hurdle, however, may soon be removed. The federal government amended the CDIC Act to eliminate the five-year term limit on insured deposits, which comes into effect on April 3rd, 2020. This, Feldman believes, should make it easier for federally regulated financial institutions to fund longer-term mortgages—in theory.

“This will depend upon the retail demand for longer-term deposits,” he writes. “In a flat yield curve environment, as we have now, one would expect that most retail demand would be for shorter-term deposits; however, once the yield curve reverts to a more common rising curve, a demand for longer-term deposits may develop.”

Ultimately, Feldman writes, the current five-year term is “too well-entrenched to be overcome organically” and that the federal government will have to modify certain rules and create policies and programs in order to change the status quo.

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Mortgage qualification a barrier to homeownership — poll

A growing number of Canadians see mortgage qualification as the biggest barrier to homeownership, according to a recent study by Zillow and Ipsos.

Around 56% of Canadians see qualifying for a mortgage as a barrier to homeownership, a six-point increase from 2018. After mortgage qualification, the next top worry for buyers is whether they can afford the mortgage payment, with roughly 54% saying so.

Canadian borrowers have to qualify under the stricter mortgage requirements and stress test that took effect in January 2018. Under the new rules, borrowers should be able to prove that they can service a mortgage at a higher rate.

“The rule only applies to newly originated mortgages and is designed to prevent borrowers from taking on more debt than they can handle if interest rates go up,” the study said.

One in two Canadians said they are concerned that these new rules will prevent them from qualifying from a mortgage.

Younger borrowers bear the weight of the new rules the most, with 69% of those in the 18-34 age bracket feeling concerned about qualifying for a mortgage.

“These mortgage regulations could impact a substantial portion of potential buyers, as the survey results show a large share of Canadian homeowners get mortgages. This worry is also present for current renters who may be considering the purchase of their first home,” the study said.

A recent report by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, however, indicated that most buyers felt there were benefits to the stress test. The CMHC survey found that 65% of buyers believe the mortgage qualification stress test will prevent more Canadians from taking on a mortgage they can’t afford in the future.

While the majority of homebuyers surveyed by CMHC were aware of the new rules, more than three-quarters said the changes had little or no impact on their decision to buy a home. This number is down slightly from 80% in 2018, but still represents a healthy majority of homebuyers.

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Ontario’s rental vacancy rate is starting 2020 at a near record low

Mississauga Toronto condo prices<img class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-196480″ src=”https://d3exkutavo4sli.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Mississauga-Toronto-condo-prices.jpg” alt=”Mississauga Toronto condo prices” width=”1024″ height=”683″ />

Photo: James Bombales

New year, no vacancy. Renters in cities across Ontario will spend another year struggling to find rental housing as prices continue to rise in the face of tight market conditions.

In 2019, the vacancy rate was 1.6 percent and it will likely drop further through 2020 to a near record low of 1.5 percent, according to Central 1 Credit Union economist Edgard Navarrete. For context, the vacancy rate for Ontario’s rental market averaged 2.6 percent between 1991 and 2018.

In his 2019-2022 housing forecast published at the end of 2019, Navarrete noted that the province has seen a substantial uptick in completed new rental units over the last three years. Through the same 1991 to 2018 period, the average number of new rental units added to the market was 1,500. From 2017 to 2019, the average increased to 7,000 units.

The trouble is that increase still doesn’t satisfy the demand for rentals in some of the province’s most competitive markets, especially Toronto, which is said to have the worst rental supply deficit in Canada.

“Government investments in rental housing will continue to add to the rental universe but expect [the province’s] rental vacancy rate to remain stubbornly lower than the long-term average due to continued strong demand from immigrants settling in Ontario and existing renters opting to remain in rental longer until they have a sufficient down payment to qualify for a mortgage loan,” wrote Navarrete in the Central 1 Housing Forecast.

Unfortunately, the main takeaway here for Ontario renters is monthly rents will continue to climb above inflation as long as this sharp disparity exists between rental supply and persistent demand. Navarrete singles out Toronto, Ottawa-Gatineau, London, Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo and Hamilton as markets where rental prices will log especially steep increases and bidding wars will keep intensifying. These cities will feel the strain on their rental markets particularly acutely because they are set to absorb the most new residents to the province.

There is hope for a rental unit supply uptick in the next few years, but for those looking for a new rental this year, it’s unlikely to offer much relief. The provincial government under Premier Doug Ford rolled back the rent control measures introduced by the Wynne Liberal government just a couple years earlier. With more flexibility to price rental units in response to market demand, investors are more likely to see condos as a solid long-term moneymaker and purchase units to add to the rental market.

These investor-owned condos are known as the “secondary rental market” since they are not built for the sole purpose of being added to the rental pool. Purpose-built rental units are known as the primary rental market.

The caveat is that the positive market changes this policy shift from the Ford government intended to inspire won’t be felt for at least a few years.

“If we see a large number of investors entering the market today, with the average completion time of high-density housing such as condo apartments anywhere from two to three years from the time shovels hit the ground, it wouldn’t be until after 2022 when the increased rental market supply will alleviate some of the pressures from the primary rental market,” wrote Navarrete.

Source: Livabl.com –

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Canadian buyers increasingly worried about qualifying for mortgage

Canadian buyers increasingly worried about qualifying for mortgage 

Ninety-two percent of Canadians see at least one barrier to home ownership, and two of the top concerns are related to the mortgage process, according to a recent survey from Zillow and Ipsos.

Canadians report feeling pressured by stricter mortgage regulations that went into effect in 2018 and Zillow’s survey found that 56% of Canadians see qualifying for a mortgage as a barrier to home ownership—a six-point increase from 2018. This concern rises to 64% for consumers who recently purchased a home, likely linked to the impending mortgage regulation changes at the time of their home search.

New and stricter mortgage requirements took effect in January 2018 with the addition of a stress test, requiring borrowers to qualify under a higher rate. The rule only applies to newly originated mortgages and is designed to prevent borrowers from taking on more debt than they can handle if interest rates go up. Since its passing, buyers’ worries are growing according to the survey. Half of Canadians (51%) say they are specifically concerned that stricter rules will prevent them from qualifying for a mortgage, up five points since 2018.

Steve Garganis, lead mortgage planner with Mortgage Architects in Mississauga, said that the concerns have risen due to more information flowing to consumers.

“Canadians are surprised to learn that even a large down payment won’t guarantee you a mortgage approval. Got 30%, 40%, 50%, 60% down payment and great credit? Guess what?  You still may not qualify for a mortgage. This is ridiculous, in my opinion,” Garganis said. “Those of us with years of experience in risk mitigation and credit adjudication know that if you have a large down payment, the chances of default are slim and none. Chances of any loss to the lender is nil.”

Younger home shoppers also feel the weight of the law. Sixty-nine percent of younger home shoppers, those between 18-34 years old, are concerned about qualifying for a mortgage under the stricter guidelines. This worry is also present for current renters who may be considering the purchase of their first home: 66% express concerns about mortgage qualification under stricter guidelines.

This despite a recent CMHC survey that found homebuyers were overwhelmingly in favour of the stress test, agreeing that the measure would help prevent Canadians from shouldering mortgages that they couldn’t afford.

Garganis added that more Canadians are being forced back to the six big banks, as smaller lenders now have more costs in raising funds to lend. This results in Canadians paying more than they should.

Most people have heard the buzz word “stress test” but don’t really know what it means or know the specifics of what it did, said Jeff Evans, mortgage broker with Canada Innovative Financial in Richmond, B.C. He thinks that the higher qualifying standard is “quite unreasonable,” and that the government has “taken a hatchet to anything to do with helping the average Canadian to own a home.”

Evans says that Canadians have a right to be concerned, although there’s no sign of their concerns hampering their desire to purchase a home.

“Life has gone on. They qualify for less, the market has gone down primarily because of the changes the government has made, so it’s starting to get more affordable again and people are gradually coming into the market as it becomes more affordable, “Evans said.

Other perceived barriers to home ownership include coming up with a down payment (66%), debt (56%), lack of job security (47%), property taxes (46%), not being in a position to settle down (15%), or not being enough homes for sale (13%). Only 8% of Canadians claim not to see any barriers to owning a home.

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A third of Canadians should probably move closer to work

A third of Canadians should probably move closer to work 

Choosing a dream home often comes with compromises and that can include accepting a longer commute to work.

But it seems that the daily journey to work is a cause of stress for many Canadians; 35% have told a new survey by recruiter Robert Half that their commute is stressful.

In addition, 36% said that their journey to and from work is too long with the average return journey taking 53 minutes of their day. More than a quarter of respondents spend more than an hour on their commute.

“A professional’s commute often sets the tone for their day. Dealing with a lengthy or frustrating trip to the office can have long-term effects on employee morale, performance and retention,” said David King, senior district president for Robert Half. “As workforces become more dispersed, organizations need to proactively offer solutions to help address and alleviate commuter stress, while keeping business priorities on track.”

While living closer to work can be a solution, a move towards less expensive neighbourhoods often means a trade off between the type and size of home desired and a longer commute.

However, the rise of flexible working is helping to ease the pressure, while changing the shape of modern workplaces.

Ultimately, companies that provide support to help workers get more out of their lives, both at and outside the office, cultivate better focused, motivated and more loyal teams,” added King.

Source: MortgageBrokerNews.ca by Steve Randall 05 Nov 2019

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Here’s Where You Can Buy a Home if You Make Less Than $50,000 a Year

 

The conversation around homeownership in Mississauga and surrounding cities has been a challenging one, especially as prices remain high across all housing types in the city and surrounding municipalities (in fact, the average 905 condo is selling for over $400,000 and has been for sometime now).

But while it’s frustrating for experts—and non-experts who entered the market years ago—to tell prospective homebuyers that they’ll have to move to find an affordable housing, some people might be interested to know that there are indeed still places in Canada that offer affordable homes for single buyers with more modest salaries.

And a recent Zoocasa report reveals where solo homeowners-to-be on a budget might be able to purchase a home.

“While having a dual-income household can greatly improve purchasing power and the ability to qualify for a mortgage, that’s not to say homeownership isn’t in the cards for single-income earning buyers. In fact, according to recent calculations by Zoocasa in celebration of Single Awareness Day (February 15), there are a number of markets where it’s possible to buy a home on one income – and even have money left over,” says Penelope Graham, managing editor, Zoocasa. 

Graham says that, to determine which markets were affordable, the average and benchmark home prices were sourced from regional real estate boards. It was then assumed the buyer would make a 20 per cent down payment and take out financing with a 3.29 per cent interest rate amortized over 30 years, to determine the minimum income required to qualify for a mortgage on the average home.

Those findings were then compared to median income data of “persons living alone who earned employment income” as reported by Statistics Canada.Buying Single - Income Gap - Age 25-64

  • Buying a Home Single - Age 25 to 34
  • Buying a Home Single - Age 35 to 44

Buying a Home Single - Age 45 to 54

So, where can solo buyers most easily afford a home?

Overall, single home buyers will see the best bang for their buck in Eastern Canada and the Prairie provinces, with Regina taking top spot out of 20 cities for greatest affordability.

There, a single buyer earning the median income of $58,823 would enjoy an income surplus of $20,025 on the average priced home of $284,424.

That’s followed by Saint John, where someone earning the median of $42,888 would see a surplus of $18,038 on a $181,576 home, and Edmonton, where earning $64,036 would net a $17,826 surplus on the average home price of $338,760.

MLS listings in Calgary, Lethbridge, Winnipeg, and Halifax also fall within the realm of affordability for single-income purchasers.

So, where are single buyers less likely to purchase a home? As expected, Zoocasa says the Greater Golden Horseshoe (which includes Toronto and the GTA), is out of most people’s budgets.

Graham says a buyer earning the median of $50,721 would fall a whopping $88,361 short on the average $1,019,600 for MLS listings in Vancouver. Toronto real estate listings are the second-least affordable with an average home price of $748,328; a buyer earning $55,221 would face an income gap of $46,858.

Victoria is the third least affordable with an average home price of $633,386, still $39,359 above what the relatively high median income of $86,400 could afford.

Other markets not considered affordable for single buyers include Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Montreal, and Ottawa.

Naturally, the housing market is more difficult for single millennials to navigate.

Zoocasa says the research also compared how earnings ranged by age group per location, and which demographic enjoyed the greatest affordability when purchasing a home. Across every market, Gen Xers (35 – 44 and 45 – 54 age brackets) enjoy the greatest earnings and purchasing power, with 11 markets considered within affordable reach (compared to 10 markets across all age groups).

Millennials (aged 25 – 34) had the least earning power in each city, behind Boomers (aged 55 – 64).

Overall, single home buyers aged 35 – 44 purchasing a home in Regina enjoyed the greatest affordability of all, with an income surplus of $24,215. A millennial purchasing in Vancouver had the least, facing a gap of $92,774.

Check out the infographics below to see which Canadian housing markets are most affordable for single buyers, courtesy of Zoocasa.

  • Buying a Home Single - Age 55 to 64

Top 5 Most Affordable Housing Markets for Single Home Buyers


1 – Regina

Average home price: $284,44

Income required: $38,798

Actual median income: $58,823

Income surplus: $20,025


2 – Saint John

Average home price: $181,576

Income required: 24,769

Actual median income: $42,888

Income surplus: $18,038


3 – Edmonton

Average home price: $338,760

Income required: $46,210

Actual median income: $64,036

Income surplus: $17,826


4 – Saskatoon

Average home price: $290,736

Income required: $39,659

Actual median income: $55,758

Income surplus: $16,099


5 – St. John’s

Average home price: $295,211

Income required: $40,270

Actual median income: $51,964

Income surplus: $11,694


5 Least Affordable Housing Markets for Single Buyers

1 – Vancouver

Average home price: $1,019,600

Income required: $139,082

Actual median income: $50,721

Income gap: $88,361


2 – Toronto

Average home price: $748,328

Income required: $102,079

Actual median income: $55,221

Income gap: $46,858


3 – Victoria

Average home price: $633,386

Income required: $86,400

Actual median income: $47,041

Income gap: $39,359


4 – Abbotsford

Average home price: $590,900

Income required: $80,604

Actual median income: $46,714

Income gap: $33,890


5 – Hamilton-Burlington

Average home price: $550,058

Income required: $75,033

Actual median income: $51,253

Income gap: $23,778

Source: Insauga.com – by Ashley Newport on November 1, 2019
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It’s going to be hard to own a home in Toronto if you are not part of the 10%: report

In Toronto, you need more than $160,000 to buy a house; meanwhile, in Regina, the most affordable city, you only need $70,000

The Canadian dream of home ownership is slipping away: Tim Hudak5:17

Canadians looking for a home in major cities will likely have to look elsewhere, unless they count themselves among the country’s richest.

New analysis from RateSupermarket.ca shows that only those in the top income bracket can afford to buy homes in many of Canada’s major cities like Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.

It cites a recent study from Zoocasa, a Canadian real estate website, which places the benchmark prices for Toronto at $873,100 and Vancouver at $1,441,000. Only the top 10 per cent can afford to live in Toronto and only the top 1 per cent can live in Vancouver.

Jacob Black, managing editor of RateSupermarket.ca, had this advice for potential homeowners: “Step one is to have a realistic idea of what you can spend. Step two is look outside the box that you might have looked in before,” said Black. “We’ve seen a trend develop in terms of cohabitation, multi-family homes, looking at options like condos, smaller apartments outside of the major city area.”

The RateSupermarket analysis compares these benchmark prices against the household income needed in order to afford a home in 12 Canadian citiesincluding Victoria, Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Calgary, Ottawa-Gatineau, London, Edmonton, Saskatoon and Regina.

RateSupermarket’s criteria for determining household income was to assume a 3.25 per cent five-year fixed mortgage rate, $10,000 in debt, a monthly lease vehicle payment of $300, a down payment of 20 per cent, and amortization of 25 years.

Using these figures, one’s household income in Vancouver would need to be above $240,000 in order to afford a home. In Toronto, a household would need more than $160,000.

A surprising result for Black was the difference between Toronto and Hamilton — a city that’s 70 kilometres away, which requires a more ‘reasonable’ $120,000 household income for a $630,000 home.

“I think that really highlights that there are opportunities in thriving vibrant areas,” said Black. “It’s just not necessarily in the same traditional areas you’ve been looking in or that you’d be expecting.”

This seemingly insurmountable unaffordability applies to starter homes as well. With these homes in Vancouver, only income earners in the top 25 per cent can afford them. The benchmark unit price is $656,900. Toronto is not far behind at $522,300.

Above all else, Black stresses a wise use of resources when it comes to the property market.

“I don’t see (the market) reversing. I don’t see a correction, but I think it’s important people do what they can with the resources they’ve got,” said Black.

Regina emerged as the most affordable city in the study, with a benchmark price of a home of $275,900 and a minimum household income of $70,000.

Here’s the full list:

  • Vancouver: House price: $1,441,000. Household income needed: $240,000
  • Toronto: House price: $873,100. Household income needed: $160,000
  • Victoria: House price: $741,000. Household income needed: $140,000
  • Hamilton: House price: $630,000. Household income needed: $120,000
  • Kitchener-Waterloo: House price: $523,720. Household income needed: $110,000
  • Calgary: House price: $467,600. Household income needed: $100,000.
  • Ottawa-Gatineau: House price: $444,500. Household income needed: $90,000
  • London: House price: $426,236. Household income needed: $90,000
  • Montreal: House price: $375,000. Household income needed: $80,000
  • Edmonton: House price: $372,100. Household income needed: $80,000
  • Saskatoon: House price: $301,900. Household income needed: $70,000
  • Regina: House price: $275,900. Household income needed: $70,000
Source: Financial Post Staff Nicholas Sokic May 30, 2019

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