Tag Archives: single buyers

A first-time buyer’s guide to understanding Canada’s mortgage stress test

Photo: James Bombales

Livabl is here to help you understand the housing market. With this comprehensive explainer, our aim is to give you a 360-view of this important issue that has been affecting the market.

For prospective homebuyers, there are several financial hoops to jump through on the way to property ownership: growing a healthy downpayment, securing a preapproval, and finding a home that fits within budget, to name a few. Yet, even with years of financial planning, the dream of homeownership can quickly come crashing down if one cannot jump through the hoop that trips up first-time and repeat buyers alike: the mortgage stress test.

In January 2018, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, a federal watchdog and the sole regulator of Canadian banks, implemented the Residential Mortgage Underwriting Practices and Procedures guideline — otherwise known as B-20. Under B-20, all new and renewing homebuyers who opt for a regulated mortgage lender are subject to a mortgage stress test, which evaluates the borrower’s ability to afford residential mortgage payments against higher interest rates. OSFI says that this policy protects Canadian homeowners from excessive debt and unaffordable mortgage payments.

“The stress test, which is one component of our B-20 guideline, is a safety buffer that ensures a borrower does not stretch their borrowing capacity to its maximum, leaving no room to absorb unforeseen events,” says OSFI in a statement to Livabl. “Borrowers across Canada face different risks that could impair their ability to pay their mortgage: changes to income, changes to expenses, changes to interest rates.”

However, the mortgage stress test does not affect everyone equally. In Canada’s most expensive markets, such as Toronto, where the average price of a home is expected to surpass $820,000 in 2019, buyers have been disqualified for mortgages by the test based on high down payment requirements. Meanwhile, in cheaper real estate markets, such as Regina, the RBC reports real estate prices fell in the third quarter of 2018. Yet, as the job market remains stagnant in some cities, meeting the income standards to pass the stress test creates a provincial disadvantage.

“The one downside is that it’s made it harder for some buyers to get into the market because what they can spend on a home now is a lot lower than what it was a year or two ago before the stress test,” says John Pasalis, Founder and President of Toronto-based brokerage Realosophy.

In other cases, desperate buyers are opting to avoid the stress test altogether by choosing to work with private lenders, who are not federally regulated by OSFI and offer much higher interest rates. Some have questioned the financial stability of the market with this increased presence of higher interest rate lenders.

“People are going to private lenders, and that brings on other risks,” says mortgage broker Elan Weintraub. “It brings on economic risks because if people are paying $4,000 a month for a private lender mortgage payment, they can’t go to restaurants, they can’t buy clothes, they can’t spend money on other things.”

If you’re a first-time buyer, don’t stress about the stress test. We turned to mortgage and real estate professionals to help answer key questions about the test.

Photo: CafeCredit.com

What does the stress test do?

All Canadian buyers are required to take the mortgage stress test, but how you are tested depends on the size of your down payment.

If you have a downpayment of less than 20 percent of the home purchase price, your mortgage is automatically insured. With the added insurance premiums, your payment rates are increased up to 4 percent higher. Insured mortgages will be tested between the interest rate offered by the regulated mortgage lender — typically, one of the top five banks of Canada — against the Bank of Canada’s conventional five-year mortgage rate (5.34 percent as of February 2019).
Those with uninsured mortgages and down payments greater than 20 percent, will be have their current rate tested, plus a two percent point increase, against the five-year bank rate. To pass the stress test, the calculated interest rate must meet the Bank of Canada’s qualifying rate or the contracted rate plus two percentage points, whichever is higher. For example, if your lender offers an interest rate of 2.99 percent for your uninsured mortgage, plus two percentage points, your calculated interest rate would need to meet the Bank of Canada’s minimum qualifying rate of 5.34 percent, since it is the greater of the two.

The mortgage stress test will consider elements such as your gross income, debt and expenses. A mortgage qualifier calculator can give you an idea how much income and down payment amount you’ll need to pass, but Pasalis recommends speaking with a mortgage broker before you begin the process.

“In the past, you could just go on some mortgage calculator and try to estimate yourself,” he says. “But with stress tests and all of these new mortgage rules, you want to go to a mortgage broker for them to tell you, in theory, what you qualify for, because that kind of really sets your expectation of what you can afford to spend on a home.”

Does it matter if I choose a variable or fixed-rate mortgage?

If you wish to secure a fixed-rate mortgage, the stress test may dash those hopes.

Fixed-rate mortgages are typically priced higher than variable-rate mortgages, as variable-rate payments fluctuate with interest rates and a higher proportion of a mortgage payment goes to principal. These higher fixed-rates can limit your options when applied to the stress test. As Weintraub describes, borrowers looking at a fixed-rate of 3.69 percent with an uninsured mortgage, plus two percentage points, wouldn’t qualify against the Bank of Canada’s rate.

“There are some clients who are so tight they can’t have a 5.69 [percent] stress test, they need a 5.34 [percent] stress test, so they have to get the variable rate even if they want fixed,” says Weintraub. “If you make a lot of money you can have both options, but if you have a very tight file, you might only have the option of variable.”

I want to change mortgage lenders. Will I have to retake the stress test?

A common criticism of the stress test is its tendency to trap borrowers with their current lenders. Buyers who purchased their home prior to the stress test are still required to participate. For those who won’t pass, it means staying with the same mortgage lender to avoid disqualification.

“Imagine that you want to renew your mortgage but you technically don’t qualify under the new stress test. You’re technically handcuffed with that same lender,” says Pasalis. “They can charge you eight percent interest and you can’t do anything about it.”

While OSFI ensures that the stress test, “contributes to public confidence in the Canadian financial system,” Weintraub questions whether this element of the policy benefits the market overall.

“If the bank knows the borrower cannot leave, how competitive are they going to be with their rates?” he says. “Some of my lowest interest rates are when their mortgage is expiring and I can move them to a new lender. But if they don’t pass the stress test, they’re basically forced to stay with their current lender, which doesn’t make sense.”

Photo: PlusLexia.com

Can I avoid the stress test?

If you’re a nervous test taker and want to sit out, then you do have the choice to not take the stress test — but at a cost.

The mortgage stress test does not apply to unregulated mortgage finances companies, called MFCs. While provincially regulated, these lenders operate in the private market, which makes loan approvals easier to obtain, but at higher rates. Weintraub suggests that an MFC lender should be reserved for short-term loan options.

“If you’re a first time buyer dying to buy a place and you go to a private lender, I don’t necessarily know if that’s the right solution,” says Weintraub. “I think private lenders are meant for very short term solutions, to help someone in a very specific situation, and then to get out of that situation ideally in 12 months or less.”

Pasalis says that MFCs tend to take on riskier borrowers, so higher interest rates compensate for that liability. But these higher payments, Weintraub says, can push new buyers into being house poor.

“It’s meant to be a stop gap, it’s not meant to be a long-term, sustainable way to borrow money, because it’s very expensive,” he says.

What happens if I fail the stress test?

Flunking the stress test is not the end — you can always retry later with a higher down payment or increased income. Weintraub says that the Bank of Mom and Dad could be available for some buyers looking for a mortgage co-signer or a boost in down payment funds. However, he recommends evaluating whether homeownership is truly worth it if this is the case.

“I would say that buying is not for everyone and sometimes we get into this whole, ‘I need to buy, I need to buy,’ mentality,” says Weintraub. “But there are certain situations where renting is a great option.”

While there has been increasing pressure for OSFI to provide policy relief for those in expensive markets, they remain firm on preventing “relaxed mortgage underwriting standards.” Pasalis says that there is always future potential for first-time buyer relief, but overall, exceptions to a national policy are unlikely to be made for individual market conditions.

“They can’t craft out different policies for Vancouver and Toronto and by municipalities,” he says. “I think the market will adjust to it.”

Source: Livabl.com –   

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Rental market braces for influx of tenants

 

Rising interest and strict mortgage qualification resulted in fewer Canadians seeking homeownership than rental accommodations last year, and 2019 will bring more of the same.

“It’s going to continue,” said Marcus & Millichap’s Vice President and Broker of Record Mark Paterson. “People will continue renting rather than dealing with residential mortgages. The rental market right now can barely keep up with the vacancy rate in Toronto, for example, being around 1%.”

Competition for rentals will be even fiercer this year in urban centres and that will push rents upward, creating a spillover effect into satellite markets.

“The rental market will see an increase of 8-10% because of demand,” said Paterson. “Unfortunately for people trying to find affordable housing, they’re looking elsewhere in secondary markets. They’re priced out of city centres, and that means the talent pool for jobs will end up in secondary markets.”

The Marcus & Millichap’s 2019 Multifamily Investment Forecast Report notes that apartment projects have become more financially viable, as evidenced by 60,000 units in the pipeline countrywide. However, that’s little relief given how few vacancies there are.

“The number of occupied units grew by 50,000 last year, outpacing supply growth nationally just as 37,000 new apartments came online,” read the report. “The national vacancy rate declined to 2.4%, the lowest reading since 2002. A shortage of construction workers, a long approval process and higher development and financing costs are slowing the delivery schedule this year, curbing completions by roughly 2,000 units from last year’s total.”

“Historically, Canada has been heavily reliant on condominium owners to supply the rental market, filling the void that purpose-built rentals have not been able to close. Prices have climbed substantially for condo investors, though, slowing this practice… and pushing more residents in search of housing to the apartment market.”

While secondary markets will enjoy the dregs of Toronto’s renter pool, the city will remain popular with renters. As the city has matured into a leading North American tech hub, the vacancy rate is under even more pressure.

“Microsoft, Intel, Uber and other companies have plans to increase operations in the city and bring on new workers,” continued the report. “Amid its solid reputation as a top innovator in tech and a mature ecosystem that supports the industry, the GTA will attract young professionals in greater numbers this year. Many new residents choose to rent, not only due to barriers to homeownership, but for greater mobility and to be near local employers, restaurants and nightlife.”

Source: Mortgage Broker News – by Neil Sharma 31 Jan 2019

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Can a single person afford to buy a place in Toronto?

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On a recent evening, I was scrolling through some images of George Nelson wall sconces on my phone. (If you’re about to Google it, I ask that you not judge my extravagant taste).

I was fantasizing about how great they’d look beside my bed — but oh yeah, that would require drilling into the wall. And as a renter, I have to consider whether they’d be practical in the layout of my next place, let alone whether I’d even be allowed to drill there.

If I owned a condo I wouldn’t have to think about stuff like that.

Truth be told, I’m getting a little impatient. I want the same privileges homeowners enjoy. No surprise, then, that I woke up on my birthday last year wondering: am I really going to deal with landlords and roommates for the rest of my life?

Sure, my apartment has its charms — built-in cabinetry, surprisingly spacious bedrooms, proximity to both a pizza joint and a wine store — but every day on my way to work, I pass a brand new condo building with large wrap-around concrete balconies; that’s something my turn-of-the-century apartment building lacks. I feel a twinge of envy.

There’s a ton of pressure in Toronto’s housing market (where I hope to buy) to get in — and get in quickly. Why? Because housing prices have been going up every year.

Even housing experts are encouraging people not to wait.

“In the end, the history shows that it is more likely that the market will go up in the future. if you want to purchase you might as well do it as soon as possible,” Louis Phillipe-Menard, director of mortgage products at National Bank, told me when I called him up for his professional opinion.

The thing is, I’m single.

Based on the metrics that lenders consider, it’s less likely that a household with only one income would be able to service a mortgage for a Toronto property.

Mortgage lenders will generally only lend customers a mortgage amount that’s worth five times their annual salary (the maximum amount Canadian banks are allowed to loan you).

According to the 2016 census, the median total household income in Toronto is around $65,829. In December, the Toronto Real Estate Board reported that the median sale price of a condo was $594,381 up 11.4% from the year before. (Forget buying a house in the city — the average price for a detached home was $1.15 million.)

On a salary of that size, it’s unlikely you’ll qualify for a mortgage — unless you’ve got $100,000 saved up as a down payment.

And that’s just the sale price. There are lots of other factors that could make or break your dreams of becoming a condo owner.

The metrics lenders look at to decide if you’re loan-worthy include the gross debt service ratio, which measures the percentage of your pre-tax income needed to pay your housing costs on top of the mortgage (like taxes, insurance, utilities, and condo fees). They also look at the total debt service ratio, which measures how much of your income will go to covering existing debts.

So, even if you make an above-average salary, if you have large debts, you may not be able to get a mortgage.

Those are a lot of expenses for one person to carry. Obviously, two incomes in such a scenario are better than one. At this point, I’m thinking that my chances for homeownership are slim.

But despite those mind-boggling expenses, I keep finding people who insist that there are singletons out there living my dream.

Megan Sheppard, a real estate agent in Toronto whose clientele includes lots of single people, warns that every year you stay out of the market, you miss out on your home’s appreciation.

“If you look at the price of what you’re paying [for rent] and the [price and] appreciation of a condo, [the difference is] like a tip at a restaurant for a good meal,” says Sheppard.

Assuming the value of a condo worth $450,000 goes up in value by 6% each year, that’s an appreciation of $27,000 a year. Or, as Sheppard puts it: “Every year you rent, you’re losing the $27,000.”

Of course, past performance doesn’t equal future returns. And now buying any property has become a lot harder after the federal government imposed new rules on mortgage lenders last year. The new “stress test rule,” brought to you by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institution, went into effect in January 2018.

The new rule means that anyone who wants a mortgage must be able to show they can afford payments that are two percentage points higher than their quoted rate, or their bank’s five-year average rate — whichever one is higher.

Right now, you can put as little as 5% down when buying a home. Doing that also means you’ll have to buy insurance from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., which can add tens of thousands of dollars annually in payments to the total cost of your mortgage.

Ironically, you’re more likely to get a lower mortgage rate from your lender when you put 5% down. Why? Because your mortgage is insured — by the federal government. Meaning, the government’s left holding the bag if you default, not the bank.

Even though it’s impossible to say for sure where the market is headed, both Phillipe-Menard and Sheppard predict that for Toronto home prices, the only way is up. “Everyone wants to be here,” says Sheppard. And unless that changes, you can bet that Toronto prices are going to stay expensive.

But buying a place leads to expenses that renting doesn’t — things like interest payments, lawyer’s fees, home insurance premiums, maintenance and renovation costs, and last but not least, property taxes.

When you’re on your own, you’re on the hook for those things. Your mortgage lender doesn’t care if you lose your job.

That’s one of my biggest fears, so to assuage them, I set out to talk to another single woman who bought her own place. Thirty-one-year-old Janelle (who requested her last name not be used) bought her first house in a rural town by herself a decade ago. She knew from a young age that being a homeowner was important to her. To meet her goal, she worked while attending high school and then later college.

By the time she graduated college, she had a down payment of 20% on a home that cost roughly $120,000.

Buying a house with a down payment smaller than that is unimaginable to her — and me too, frankly.

“It baffles me that you’re paying your mortgage for 25, 30 years. If you’re only paying 5% into it, that’s another $20-25,000 in interest at the end of your mortgage,” she says.

At the end of the day, she adds, it’s still more expensive to be a homeowner.

“As soon as you get into a mortgage, a bill always seems to creep up when you least expect it. ‘I just had $1,000 saved, but oh, I have to install in a new shower.’ Once you get into a house it’s not like the bills stop,” says Janelle.

There are a few other variables you need to factor in, as well.

One is that salary growth has remained flat for most of us and it looks like it’s going to stay that way. The other one is that the Bank of Canada’s key interest rate has been rising steadily over the past two years, meaning the cost of borrowing money is going up.

Of course, your circumstances may change for the better. For renters who are stuck on the idea of one day buying a home, Sheppard advises asking yourself the following questions:

  • How much you can you currently afford in rent?
  • Do you have the potential for your income to increase?
  • Is there anyone else who can do this with you (like a parent)?

Sometimes the smartest, safest, and the most responsible option is not buying, says Sheppard. “Housing is a necessity but owning your real estate is wealth and it’s a long-term investment,” says Sheppard.

Based on my circumstances, I’ve decided to continue renting while also putting away a few hundred dollars away each month. Right now it’s acting as an emergency savings account, but maybe one day I’ll take money out for a down payment. Maybe homeownership will happen for me one day.

At the very least, saving for a home will leave me with a nice pile of savings if I ever need it. Like if I want to get myself some fancy mid-century wall sconces.

Source; Lowestrates.ca – By: Alexandra Bosanac on January 11, 2019

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Down Payment Assistance Programs Across Canada

Canadian down payment assistance programs help first-time home buyersSo many young people want to build home equity and get out from under their landlord’s thumb.

But they can’t. They don’t have the down payment to qualify for a mortgage.

For many modest-income Canadians, saving up the 5 percent minimum down payment (or 20 percent if you want to avoid CMHC insurance) can take years—many, many years.

While some are able to rely on gifts from parents/family (39% of first-time buyers according to a 2018 Mortgage Professionals Canada study) or loans from family (25%), or RRSP withdrawals (38%) to make their down payment, those options aren’t available to everyone.

That’s where government down payment programs come in. Scattered across Canada, these little-publicized municipal and provincial programs are helping first-time home buyers fund their down payments and make the transition from renter to owner.

Since most people don’t know about them, their uptake is typically low. When the B.C. government launched its program in 2017, for example, it thought 42,000 residents would participate in the first three years. After nine months, only 1,400 had done so.

To some onlookers, giving buyers government money to buy a house may seem a bit too socialist, but municipalities have an interest in transitioning financially stable renters from apartments to houses. Among other reasons, it frees up rental units and grows their property tax base.

To help homebuyers find such assistance, the Spy has rounded up some of the more popular programs. What follows are grant or loan programs that provide a portion of the down payment to qualified borrowers. Note that this list isn’t exhaustive and that the status of these programs change regularly. Moreover, once quotas are reached many such programs end, so contact the source for the latest info.

 

Alberta

Program: PEAK Housing Initiatives (formerly PEAK Program)
Provider: Joint initiative between Trico Residential, the Government of Alberta Municipal Affairs, CMHC and Habitat for Humanity
Details: PEAK housing units are priced at market value and recipients must be able to qualify for and hold a mortgage. Once approved for the program, PEAK provides a second mortgage for either a partial or full down payment up to a maximum of 5 percent of the purchase price. PEAK has so far helped 111 individuals and families purchase a home of their own.
How to apply: http://www.peakinitiative.ca/

Program: Attainable Homes (specific to Calgary only)
Provider: The City of Calgary
Details: This program has been in place since 2009 and is geared towards moderate-income Calgarians. Successful applicants must be able to contribute $2,000 towards the downpayment of their home, and the Attainable Homes program contributes the rest.  If and when the homeowner sells the home, the growth in the home’s value is split between the homeowner and the program, with that money reinvested to assist other homebuyers. The longer the homeowner remains in the house, the more their share of the appreciation increases.
How to apply: https://attainyourhome.com/

 

British Columbia

The province of B.C. ended its Home Owner Mortgage and Equity Partnership on March 31, 2018. It has no widely available down payment assistance programs at this time.

 

Manitoba

Program: Rural Homeownership Program
Provider: Manitoba Housing
Details: This program is limited to those renting a home owned by Manitoba Housing in selected rural communities or those who would like to purchase a vacant home owned by Manitoba Housing. Applicants must have a maximum household income of $53,441 if they don’t have children, and $71,255 if there are children or dependents. The program has two components, a loan worth 10 percent of the purchase price, which is forgivable on a pro-rata basis over five years. Another 15 percent loan is forgivable after 15 years of continuous ownership and occupancy of the property.
How to apply: http://www.gov.mb.ca/housing/progs/homeownership.html

 

Saskatchewan

Program: 3% Down Payment Assistance Program
Provider: National Affordable Housing Corporation
Details: Provides Saskatchewan homebuyers with a 3 percent non-repayable down payment assistance grant towards the purchase of a home from one of the NAHC’s partner housing providers. Saskatchewan households with incomes less than $90,000 per year are eligible for financial support under this program.
How to apply: http://nahcorp.ca/assistance/nahc-3-down-payment-assistance-program/

Program: Mortgage Flexibilities Support Program
Provider: City of Saskatoon, CMHC and the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation
Details: This program is for designated projects in the city of Saskatoon and provides qualifying homebuyers with a 5 percent down payment grant for the purchase of a home. The household income limit must be less than $69,975 for one person and $74,640 for two people. Their maximum net worth must also be less than $25,000.
How to apply: https://www.saskatoon.ca/services-residents/housing-property/incentives-homebuyers

 

New Brunswick

Program: Home Ownership Program
Provider: Government of New Brunswick
Details: This program offers assistance in the form of a repayable loan worth up to 40 percent of the purchase price of an existing home, or a maximum of $75,000 for new builds. It’s available to those with household incomes below $40,000. Applicants must be first-time homebuyers or be living in a sub-standard housing unit; have been living in New Brunswick for at least one year prior to application; and have a good credit rating and meet all financial institution lending requirements for obtaining a first mortgage.
How to apply:http://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/services/services_renderer.8315.Home_Ownership_Program.html

 

Newfoundland & Labrador

Program: Home Purchase Program (HPP)
Provider: Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
Details: This program will remain open over 2018/19 until funding has been fully committed to up to 330 homebuyers. Grants of $3,000 are available to qualifying individuals and families to assist with the down payment of a new home valued up to $400,000 (including HST).
How to apply: http://www.nlhc.nf.ca/programs/programsHpp.html

 

Nova Scotia

Program: Down Payment Assistance Program
Provider:
 Housing Nova Scotia (Government of Nova Scotia)
Details: This is a pilot program to assist Nova Scotians with a household income of $75k or less. The program offers an interest-free loan of up to 5 percent, to a maximum purchase price of $280,000 in the Halifax Regional Municipality and $150,000 elsewhere in the province. The loans will range from $7,500-$14,000 and must be repaid in 10 years. More than 150 first-time buyers benefitted from the program in its first year, and it will remain open until March 31, 2019.
How to apply: https://housing.novascotia.ca/downpayment

 

Ontario

Housing programs in Ontario are administered by municipalities based on the premise that they know their community’s needs best. Below is a selection of just several first-time homeowner assistance programs from some key municipalities.

Barrie (Simcoe County)

Program: Homeownership Program
Details: This program offers 10 percent down payment assistance in the form of a forgivable loan.
There is presently a waiting list, but applicants are still encouraged to apply. A percentage of available funding is designated for applicants currently living in Social Housing or those who self-identify as Aboriginal households.
More details: http://www.simcoe.ca/dpt/sh/apply-for-the-homeownership-program

Hamilton

Program: Homeownership Down Payment Assistance Program
Details: This program provides support to low- and moderate-income residents who qualify for a mortgage with a maximum home price of $375,000. To qualify, applicants must have a maximum household income of $80,000,
More details: https://www.hamilton.ca/social-services/housing/homeownership-down-payment-assistance-program

Kitchener (Region of Waterloo)

Program: Affordable Home Ownership program
Details: This program provides individuals and families with a loan of up to five percent of the purchase price of a home (up to a value of $386,000). Applicants must currently renting in the Region of Waterloo, be able to qualify for a mortgage, and have a maximum household income of $90,500.
More details: https://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/living-here/funding-to-help-buy-a-home.aspx

 

Prince Edward Island

Program: Down Payment Assistance Program
Provider: Government of Prince Edward Island
Details: This program assists Prince Edward Islander’s with modest incomes by providing a repayable loan of up to five percent of the purchase price of a new or existing home to a maximum price of $11,250. The loan amount must go towards the down payment and not towards financing or other closing costs. The loan bears a fixed interest rate of 5% per annum. The purchase price of the home must be no more than $225,000.
How to apply: https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/finance-pei/down-payment-assistance-program

 

Quebec

Program: Accès Condos
Provider:
 Société d’habitation et de développement de Montréal (SHDM)
Details: Launched in 2005 by the SHDM, Accès Condos has provided more than 3,600 affordable units that promote home ownership throughout Montreal. Qualifying buyers must make a minimum $1,000 deposit and receive a 10% purchase credit, which is used for the down payment on the house in an approved development.
How to apply: https://accescondos.org/en/

 

financial support

National Non-Loan Programs

First-Time Home Buyers’ (FTHB) Tax Credit

Provider: Government of Canada
Details: The FTHB Tax Credit offers a $5,000 non-refundable income tax credit amount on a qualifying home acquired after January 27, 2009. For an eligible individual, the credit will provide up to $750 in federal tax relief.
Link: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/gncy/bdgt/2009/fqhbtc-eng.html

 

Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP)

Provider: Government of Canada
Details: The Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) is a program that allows you to withdraw up to $25,000 in a calendar year from your registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) to buy or build a qualifying home for yourself or for a related person with a disability.
Link: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/hbp/

 

GST/HST New Housing Rebate

Provider: Government of Canada
Details: You may qualify for a rebate of part of the GST or HST that you paid on the purchase price or cost of building your new house, on the cost of substantially renovating or building a major addition onto your existing house, or on converting a non-residential property into a house.
Link: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pub/gp/rc4028/rc4028-e.html

Source: RateSpy.com – By  on November 26, 2018

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Mortgage stress test vs. high interest rates: which has impacted the Canadian housing market more?

Photo: James Bombales

When the Bank of Canada decides to hike interest rates, the impact of the move tends to peak six quarters after the fact. But, according to one economist, the effect of the current rising-rates environment is already making itself felt, at least when it comes to the Canadian housing market.

“Even though the first rate hike of this cycle, let alone the subsequent moves, was administered less than six quarters ago, there’s already pain being felt,” writes CIBC economist Royce Mendes, in his latest note.

The BoC hiked the overnight rate to 1.75 percent in October, and is widely expected to do so again in the new year. And while there’s been some debate among industry experts about whether higher interest rates or the stricter mortgage rules introduced in January are to blame for a slowdown in Canadian housing activity, Mendes says it’s the former that is dealing the biggest blow.

“It’s difficult to identify how much of the recent slowdown in housing activity has been due to tighter mortgage rules versus higher interest rates,” he writes. “But, based on prior estimates of the effects of the rule changes alone, the slowdown in lending has been more precipitous.”

That’s because, while the market has largely adjusted to the effects of stricter mortgage rules over the course of the year, it’s only now starting to contend with the impact that higher interest rates will have on would-be homebuyers.
“It’s hardly a stretch then to say that the housing market is already feeling some pressure from rate hikes, particularly since many mortgages are now rolling over at higher rates for the first time in a quarter-century,” writes Mendes.

That could mean that, heading into 2019, housing activity will cool even further, as the effects of the rising interest rate environment make themselves known.

“Given the lags in monetary policy, even as the effects of the mortgage rule changes wane on a year-over-year basis in the months to come, the impacts of rate hikes will actually become more apparent.”

Source: Livabl.com- 

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Homeowners’ typical mortgage payments are rising much faster than home prices

Homeowners’ typical mortgage payment is rising much faster than home prices, according to new data from CoreLogic.

The US median sale price has risen by just under 6% over the past year, according to CoreLogic. However, the principal-and-interest mortgage payment on a median-priced home has spiked by nearly 15 percent. And the trend looks set to continue – CoreLogic’s Home Price Index Forecast predicts that home prices will rise 4.7% year over year in August 2019. Mortgage payments, meanwhile, are forecast to have risen more than 11% in the same time period.

One way to measure the impact of inflation, mortgage rates and home prices on affordability is to use the so-called “typical mortgage rate,” CoreLogic said. That’s a mortgage-rate-adjusted monthly payment based on each month’s median US home sale price, calculated using Freddie Mac’s average rate on a 30-year mortgage with a 20% down payment.

“The typical mortgage payment is a good proxy for affordability because it shows the monthly amount that a borrower would have to qualify for to get a mortgage to buy the median-priced US home,” said CoreLogic analyst Andrew LePage.

While the US median sale price in August was up about 5.7% year over year, the typical mortgage payment was up 14.5% because of a neatly 0.7-percentage-point hike in mortgage rates over the time period, LePage said.

Source: Mortgage Professionals America – by Ryan Smith18 Nov 2018

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The fast track to your first home

Thinking about buying your first home? Saving for a down payment sooner rather than later is easier than you think. Here are nine strategies to boost your financial fitness and fast-track your way to homeownership.

  1. GAUGE YOUR FINANCIAL FITNESS

You need an honest assessment to know which areas of your financial house are on track and which areas need improvement. Get your Financial Fitness Score by taking the Genworth Canada/Canadian Association of Credit Counselling Services Financial Fitness survey at caccs.ca.

  1. CHECK YOUR CREDIT

Order a copy of your credit report from TransUnion or Equifax so you can check your credit score and history, as well as ensure there are no errors. Contact the credit report-ing agency if you identify any mistakes.

  1. BUMP UP YOUR CREDIT SCORE

The higher your credit score, the better the lending terms you’ll receive, whether for a mortgage, car or consumer credit loan. The most effective ways of improving your credit score are paying your bills on time, dramatically paying down – or, better yet, clearing – your credit card balance each month and repaying any loans.

  1. CREATE A MONTHLY BUDGET – AND TRIM THE FAT

Find a template online or download a household budgeting app to your smartphone. How much do you spend each month on rent, utilities, transportation, groceries, child-care, insurance, gym memberships and clothing? You need accurate info about your income and expenditure to evaluate how much house you can afford. At the end of the month, you’ll be able to spot patterns and identify the most effective places to save money, whether your spending vice is a two-lattes-per-day habit or too many taxi rides each month.

 

  1. DETERMINE HOW MUCH HOUSE YOU CAN AFFORD

Use your budget to evaluate how much of a mortgage you can afford. A bank may approve you for monthly mortgage payments of up to 32 per cent of your gross monthly household income, but can you afford it? Work out what your future expenses will look like each month (mortgage + insurance + utilities + taxes + other expenses). Do you make enough to cover this – with enough left over to save? If not, maintain breathing room by opting for a more affordable first home.

  1. START “PAYING” YOUR MORTGAGE

If your future mortgage payments will cost approximately $1,800 per month and you currently pay $1,300 in rent, now’s the time to start setting aside an extra $500 per month, so you can get into the habit of budgeting $1,800 per month for shelter. That will grow your savings faster.

  1. BULK UP YOUR INCOME

Another way to hold on to your money is to make more of it! Consider a second job, extra hours or selling those collectibles on eBay. (Bonus: Fewer boxes on moving day!)

  1. PAY YOURSELF FIRST

Get serious about paying yourself first by setting up bi-weekly automatic transfers from your chequing account to your savings account. Beyond the down payment and closing costs associated with a new home, homeownership might come with surprise expenses like a leaky roof and a broken washing machine. A healthy savings account will make you less stressed about those possibilities.

  1. CONSIDER PROFESSIONAL ADVICE

Once you’re on track, see a financial advisor to work out short- and long-term strategies for your ongoing financial goals, from homeownership to retirement savings. You’ll get more from the meeting if you have already determined your goals and actions.

Source: HomeOwnership.ca

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