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Mississauga Moves Towards Making Housing More Affordable

Source: Insauga.com – by Ashley Newport on October 17, 2017

It’s no secret that housing in Mississauga (and the overall 905 area) has become increasingly more expensive over time. With detached houses costing buyers $900,000 to $1 million and compact condos selling for over $400,000, residents are turning to the rental market and being equally as disappointed to see that prices are no more kind there (in some cases, two-bedroom suites can cost close to $2,000 a month).

The housing crisis is one that Mississauga has been, to its credit, taking seriously.

The City of Mississauga’s Planning and Development Committee recently adopted the city’s first housing strategy: Making Room for the Middle: A Housing Strategy for Mississauga.

According to the strategy, there’s a pressing and dire need to create affordable housing for middle income earners who are in danger of being priced out of the city.

Some of the draft’s findings are alarming, even though they’re not at all surprising.

Some key facts:

  • A home is considered affordable when its inhabitants spend 30 per cent or less of their earnings on housing costs
  • 1 in 3 households are spending more than 30 per cent of their income on housing and research suggests this number will rise
  • Middle income households typically net between $50,000 and $100,000 a year
  • Middle income earners include nurses, teachers and social workers
  • People who want to purchase homes can typically afford to pay between $270,000 and $400,000, meaning their only options are condos and a limited selection of townhouses
  • Housing prices are adversely affected by supply and demand imbalances (there’s much more demand than there is supply)
  • The average rental unit costs $1,200 a month
  • Rental inventory is 1.6 per cent (which is troublingly low)

The city is focusing on middle income earners because they typically make too much to qualify for government assistance, but still cannot afford to rent or purchase homes in the city. When people are priced out of their communities, the social and economic fabric of the area is compromised. If the middle class is forced to move further away, the city will only be suitable for very high and low-income earners–something leaders are hoping to prevent.

The city says the Strategy is Mississauga’s plan for fostering a supportive environment for the development of a range of housing that is affordable for all. While it targets middle-income households, it will also benefit lower-income households.

To be clear, the Region of Peel is responsible for subsidized housing (meaning housing associated with low-income earners who require special assistance to afford adequate shelter in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon). While attention must still be paid to lower-income residents (Peel has a notoriously long subsidized housing waitlist and too few shelters for those in need), middle-income households have not been widely supported in terms of housing supply.

Generally speaking, middle-income earners—think social workers, journalists and clerical workers—do not qualify for financial assistance and cannot afford housing at current market prices.

Ideally, the strategy will help provide opportunities for lower-income households by freeing up supply.

The strategy offers 40 actions supported by the Mississauga Housing Advisory Panel, a group of over 20 housing professionals from the public, private and non-profit sectors that shared their knowledge, advice and solutions. It also includes a five-year action plan centred on municipal powers and funding partnerships to achieve its goals.

“Housing is an issue that touches every Mississauga resident and business,” said Mayor Bonnie Crombie. “Council has already endorsed in-principle, actions to protect existing rental housing and create a housing-first policy for surplus lands. Making Room for the Middle: A Housing Strategy for Mississauga is the City’s plan to provide, together with our partners, a supportive development environment for a range of affordable housing.”

So, what has the city proposed?

  • Petition senior levels of government for taxation policies and credits that incent affordable housing
  • Pilot tools such as pre-zoning and a Development Permit System to develop affordable housing in appropriate locations (close to transit systems, for example)
  • Encourage the Region of Peel to develop an inclusionary zoning incentive program for private and nonprofit developers
  • Continue to engage with housing development stakeholders
  • Encourage the Region of Peel to investigate the cost of deferring development charges on the portion of affordable units provided in newly constructed multiple dwellings

The city has also been working to legalize accessory units (better known as basement apartments). At this juncture, basement suites remain a very viable option for people looking for affordable units, as the suites tend to cost $1,000 or less. Right now, most units remain unregistered and the city is responsible for levying fines against landlords operating unregulated units.

“Making Room for the Middle: A Housing Strategy for Mississauga defines how the City of Mississauga will address the affordable housing crisis in our City,” said Crombie in a statement. “We’re ready to do our part to ensure that those who want to live in Mississauga can afford to do so. The strategy provides bold, innovative solutions to increasing affordability. Safe, affordable housing is a pillar of a complete city and we will achieve our goals if we work together with our partners to create a supportive development environment for a range of affordable housing for all.”

According to the staff report, the strategy has received wide support since its release on March 29 from residents, agency partners and the building and development industry.

Speaking of the development industry, it appears that one affordable housing project is already in the works.

A few weeks ago, we learned that a brand new building development has been planned for the City Centre area.

The Daniels Corporation, the development firm who has built multiple properties in the City Centre and Erin Mills Town Centre areas in the city, is slated to construct an affordable housing project at 360 City Centre Drive.

Since this building will help the city fulfill its mandate, council will a provide a sizeable $2.7 million to the Region of Peel to offset development charges for the project.

The Region approved funding of the much-needed project to the tune of $65 million ($65,966,522, to be exact) on June 22. After approving funding, the Region asked Mississauga to “consider granting relief from City Development Charges (the aforementioned $2.7 million) by waiving or providing a grand to offset such DCs.”

As for how the development will work, 40 per cent of the units (70 in total) will be Rent Geared to Income suites. These units will take residents off affordable housing waitlist. The city also says that 60 per cent (or 104 units) will be set aside for renters and owned by the Region. They will be available to middle-class residents.

A second tower on the same podium will boast market-value units, creating a mixed-income property on City Centre grounds.

The movement of the affordable housing strategy is encouraging, especially since the city has been working to build consensus for sometime now.

The Mississauga Housing Forum held last spring enabled stakeholders to hear from renowned housing experts, “road test’ the strategy and provide their input. City staff say they have since have fine-tuned the strategy based on the feedback received.

“We heard from our residents and stakeholders and are taking action,” said Ed Sajecki, commissioner of planning and building. “Our strategy reflects the input we received. We can now create, together with our partners, a housing affordability solution that could be a model for other Canadian cities.”

The city says the next steps include actions to help preserve purpose-built rental housing, support for the Region of Peel in implementing its programs, and ongoing work with senior levels of government to make their surplus land available for affordable housing and provide standardized local housing data to measure housing affordability.

The final strategy will go to Council for approval on October 25.

 
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Ten ways the new mortgage rules will shake up the lending market

THE CANADIAN PRESS

 

Source: The Globe and Mail – SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL

T-minus 76 days and counting until Canada’s banking regulator launches its controversial mortgage stress test. It’ll be squarely aimed at people with heavier debt loads and at least 20 per cent equity – and it will be a tide turner.

Given where Canada’s home prices and debt levels are at, this is easily the most potent mortgage rule change of all time. Here are 10 ways it’s going to shake up Canada’s mortgage market for years to come:

1. It’s like a two-point rate hike: Uninsured borrowers can qualify for a mortgage today at five-year fixed rates as low as 2.97 per cent. In a few months that hurdle will soar to almost 5 per cent. If you’re affected by this, you could need upward of 20 per cent more income to get the same old bank mortgage that you could get today.

2. Quantifying the impact: An OSFI spokesperson refused to say how many borrowers might be affected, calling that data “supervisory information” that is “confidential.” But at least one in six uninsured borrowers could feel the blow based on the Bank of Canada estimates of “riskier borrowers” and predictions from industry economists like Will Dunning. Scores of borrowers will be forced to defer buying, pay higher rates, find a co-borrower and/or put more money down to qualify for a mortgage.

3. Why OSFI did it: Forcing people to prove they can afford much higher rates will substantially increase the quality of borrowers at Canada’s banks. OSFI argues that this will insulate our banking system from economic shocks, and to the extent it’s correct – that’s good news.

4. A leap in non-prime borrowing costs: Many home buyers with above-average debt, relative to income, will resort to much higher-cost lenders who allow more flexible debt ratio limits. At the very least, more will choose longer amortizations (i.e., 30 years instead of 25 years) and take longer to pay down their mortgage. Non-prime lenders will also become pickier. Why? Because they’ll see a flood of formerly “bankable” borrowers getting declined by the Big Six. That could force hundreds of thousands of borrowers into the arms of lenders with the highest rates. If you have a higher debt load, weak credit and/or less provable income, get ready to pay the piper.

5. A safer market or riskier market? The shift to expensive non-prime lenders could boost mortgage carrying costs and overburden many higher-risk borrowers, exacerbating debt and default risk in the non-prime space. “We’re very aware of the potential migration risk [from banks to less regulated lenders],” Banking superintendent Jeremy Rudin told BNN on Tuesday. “It’s not something that would be a positive development.” If rates keep rising, non-prime default rates could spike over time. Albeit, keep in mind, we’re talking a single-digit percentage of borrowers here. The question people will ask is: Does growing debt risk in the non-prime mortgage market, combined with home price risk and a potential drop in employment and consumer spending truly lower banks’ risk?

6. Provincially regulated lenders win: Unless provincial regulators follow OSFI’s lead (if history is a guide, they won’t), it’ll be a bonanza for some credit unions. Many credit unions will still let you get a mortgage based on your actual (contract) rate, instead of the much higher stress-test rate. That means you’ll qualify for a bigger loan – if you want one. We could also see a few non-prime lenders charge lower rates to help people qualify for bigger mortgages, while tacking on a fee to mortgage for that privilege.

7. Trapped renewers: Lenders are thrilled about one thing: customer retention. As many as one in six people renewing their mortgage could be trapped at their existing bank because they can’t pass the stress test at another lender. And if a bank knows you can’t leave, you can bet your boots they’ll use that as leverage to serve up subpar renewal rates.

8. A short-term spurt: Expect a rush of buying in the near term from people who fear they won’t qualify after Jan. 1. The question is, how much of that short-term demand will be offset by people selling, as a result of the rule change’s perceived negative impact. In the medium term – other things equal – this is bearish for Canadian home prices. Period. That said, borrowers will likely adapt within two to five years. And prices will ultimately resume higher.

9. The stress test could change…someday: While few credible sources expect OSFI’s announcement to trigger a housing crash, the higher rates go, the more this will slow housing. Financial markets expect another rate hike by January, with potentially two to four – or more – to come. Mr. Rudin says OSFI may “revisit” the restrictiveness of the stress test if rates surge, but will the regulator act in time to prevent diving home values? That’s the trillion-dollar question. The good news is that rates generally rise with a strengthening economy, which is bullish for housing – for at least a little while.

10. Questions abound: Tuesday’s news will undoubtedly spark contentious debate over whether this was all necessary, given already slowing home prices, provincial rule tightening, rising rates and the fact that uninsured default rates are considerably lower than for people with less than 20 per cent equity.

OSFI says its responsibility is to keep banks safe and sound. Overly concerning itself with the side effects of its mortgage stress test is not its mandate, it claims. Well, in a few years we might be either congratulating OSFI, or asking if that mandate needs to change.

THE CANADIAN PRESS

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In it for the right reasons: Rent-To-Own

Source: MortgageBrokerNews.ca – by Neil Sharma 16 Oct 2017
A Calgary-based social enterprise that helps families attain homeownership using the rent-to-own model has arrived in the GTA, where affordability has reached crisis level.

Homeowners Now purchases homes its clients choose, rents it to them, and then gives them exclusive rights to purchase it if they choose at the conclusion of the agreement’s terms. According to Dale Monette, Homeowners
Now’s managing director, the organization works on its clients’ behalf to help them save for eventual ownership and augment their credit scores.

“Our mission is to help as many Canadians get into homeownership as possible by using the rent-to-own transaction structure, which allows them to rent a property for a certain amount of time with the option to buy at the end, kind of like leasing a car,” he said, adding that the company did its due diligence before entering the Toronto market, where its services are badly needed.

Homeowners Now is partnered with the North American Private Assets Corporation (NAPAC), which provides financing. NAPAC is regularly approached by real estate investors who use similar rent-to-own structures, but regularly turns them down. However, it approached Homeowners Now because it believes that the nascent company – which was registered in 2015 but investing with this structure since 2011 – is in it for the right reasons.
Moreover, Homeowners Now has a 100% success rate in helping renters achieve homeownership.

“NAPAC got in touch with us,” said Monette. “They’ve been approached by two dozen rent-to-own companies over the years, but they noticed these companies weren’t in it for the right reasons. We mostly deal with people who don’t have major credit issues – although we deal with them too – and that have good incomes but need that extra boost. Most of the time they’re young families.”

Entrepreneurs are particularly maligned by the current mortgage rules, and Monette says they also comprise part of Homeowners Now’s clientele.

But families for whom money is precarious receive particular care and attention by Homeowners Now. Monette recounted a story in which a client’s gas bill was mixed up and unpaid for to no fault of their own. Homeowners Now stepped in and lent them around $2,500 interest-free to be repaid in 25 installments. Another client had a broken dishwasher, washer and dryer, and Homeowners Now granted them half of the money to replace the appliances.

“Because we’re a social enterprise, whenever a client gets into strife, we help,” continued Monette. “If this client misses a rent payment, they default, but we genuinely want to help.”

GTA residents, specifically, could benefit from this rent-to-own structure. Homeowners Now only entered the market a month ago, but it already has three clients and about 75 applicants. Its goal is to oversee 15 projects a month by the end of 2018.

“What we’re seeing in the Greater Golden Horseshoe is a lot of people are moving further out while a lot of newcomers are arriving,” said Monette. “A lot of people might only have $15-20,000 in savings and that usually falls short of a down payment. There’s a huge need for individuals to get into the market as quickly as possible before being priced out of the market.”

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New to Canada? Three tips to start your finances off right

New to Canada? Three tips to start your finances off right

Moving to a new country can be overwhelming but starting your finances off right can make all the difference as you build your new life.

 

As you begin your new life in Canada, here are three tips can get you headed in the right direction.

  1. Connect with resources that can help your family get settled.

There can be so much to do when you arrive in Canada—find a home, a job, schools, a bank—it can be hard to know where to start.

Scotiabank’s Newcomer Handbook gives you quick and easy access to things you need to know as you build a new life here. It’s available for free online and includes advice on:

  • 10 Things You Need to Know About Banking in Canada
  • Top 10 Tips for Settling in More Easily
  • Government Information and Assistance
  • Jobs and Careers
  • Health, Safety and Your Rights
  • Education and Training
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Embassies in Canada

After friends and family, a good place to begin when looking for a job is the Service Canada website as well as online job boards. If you need Canadian work experience, consider volunteering in your community.

The federal government also offers other newcomer support, to help get a language assessment and finding a language class, finding a place to live, signing up kids for school and learning about community services.

Your province is responsible for providing services like health care. All Canadian citizens and permanent residents are eligible for public health insurance, which provides most services free of charge (health care in Canada is paid for through taxes). Information about your province’s health care program is available through the government of Canada website.

  1. Learn how to manage your money.

Building a relationship with a financial advisor at a bank in Canada is an important step in creating your new life. Start by visiting your local branch to open chequing and savings accounts and consider applying for a credit card. Your advisor can help you understand your needs and suggest the products that are right for you and your family. Check out the popular credit cards that the Scotiabank StartRightprogram has to offer. With more rewards than any other bank, you’ll be sure to find a card that meets your needs and rewards you in the process.

A credit card not only lets you charge purchases rather than pay cash, it also helps you establish a credit history in Canada. This will be crucial when you need to get a loan to start a business or buy a home. Banks learn a lot about your financial health by accessing your credit history and use it to decide whether they should lend you money.

More important information about credit history:

  • It’s your responsibility to review your credit report and ensure it doesn’t contain any errors
  • Try to pay your bills on time and in full to avoid a negative rating
  • Make sure you understand the terms and conditions
  • Never go over your credit limit
  • Make sure to contact local credit agencies if you need help managing debt
  1. Plan for your future.

Before long, you’ll find that you and your family have settled into your new life in Canada and will start thinking about buying a home or car, putting money aside for your children’s education and investing for your retirement. Having a financial plan is an important element to help you take control of your finances.

One of the first things you can do is evaluate your day-to-day cash flow and think about spending only on things you really need or value. Cutting a few dollars here and there from your daily expenses, even if it’s just $5 a day, can add up to big savings year over year. Where can you start? Cut out your daily luxury coffee, bottles of water, or lunch out once a week. If you saved and invested that daily $5, in 20 years you would have more than $50,000!1

A “Mapping Tomorrow” session with a Scotiabank advisor will go a long way in helping you achieve your unique goals in Canada. Want to learn more? Our expert advisors can offer practical advice and smart solutions to help you have the life you want in Canada.

Source: by Scotiabank  Learn more about Scotiabank’s StartRight Program.

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GTA’s hottest market outside of downtown Toronto

Source: Canadian Real Estate Wealth –  Neil Sharma

Mississauga has become the GTA’s largest condo hub after Toronto, and its torrid pace of residential, infrastructure and amenity development are conspiring to make it ripe for investment.

In tandem with the Places to Grow Act, Mayor Bonnie Crombie has recalibrated the city’s growth plan to quickly turn it into an urban hub. Mississauga’s city centre already has a dazzling skyline, and it’s expecting 23 new mixed-use condominium towers.

Major builders like Daniels, Amacon, Camrost and Solmar all have major projects going up there that promise to bring life to what’s been a sleepy downtown. However, without a crucial piece of infrastructure, some of these developments might never have been conceived.

“The timing is largely a result of the LRT breaking ground next year,” Crombie told CREW. “It is 20-kilometres long with 22 stops, beginning in Port Credit, and then looping around downtown where there will be four stops. It will pull into the transit terminal – the second-biggest in the GTA – then go into Brampton.”

The city centre in Canada’s six-largest city has long been built around Square One Shopping Centre, which just received a major facelift and extension, but there are newer arrivals. Sheridan College has two campuses in or near the city centre, with a third in planning stages, and University of Toronto Mississauga isn’t very far away, either. Apartment buildings in the area are being outnumbered by condos, and students will naturally rent them.
Over the next two decades, Peel Region is expecting 300,000 new residents and 150,000 jobs, of which 60% are projected to be in Mississauga.

Zia Abbas, owner and president of Realty Point, a brokerage that’s grown to 26 franchises in only two years, says the cost per square foot in Mississauga’s condos make investing there a no-brainer.

“The average of any new launch in downtown Toronto is around $1,000 (per square foot),” he said, “with the cheapest I’ve seen in Liberty Village starting around $850 to $900 per square foot before parking. In Mississauga it’s between $640 and $670, parking included.”

Abbas says the LRT will add substantial value to the city centre’s condo cluster, and added that Mississauga has other hot spots too, like Erin Mills and the Hurontario and Eglinton neighbourhood.

“Compared to downtown Toronto where eight out of 10 people rely on transit infrastructure, in Mississauga it’s five out of 10, I’d say.”

But as Crombie’s vision for an urban Mississauga materializes, that number could start rivalling Toronto’s.

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A deeper look at millennial homebuyers

Get to know one of the largest cohorts of future home buyers – and what these clients want in a home.

“When looking for a home, 53% of peak millennial purchasers across Canada are willing to spend up to $350,000, which would typically buy them a 2.5 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom property nationwide, with 1,272 square feet of living space,” Royal LePage said in its latest report. “Yet, with 58% of respondents having a annual household income of less than $69,000, and only 34% currently tracking to have a sufficient down payment of over 20% to qualify for a mortgage in this price range, the actual logistics of homeownership can be quite difficult.”

The report, entitled Largest Cohort of Millennials Changing Canadian Real Estate, Despite Constraints of Affordability and Mortgage Regulation, was based on a cross-Canada survey about Millennials’ sentiments around real estate.

It found only 35% of millennials currently own a home, 50% rent, and 14% live with parents.

The desire to own a home is strong among these Canadians, with Royal LePage’s  survey finding 87% of Canadians aged 25-30 believe home ownerships is a good investment.

However, slightly fewer –69% — hope to own a home in the next five years and only 57% of those surveyed believe they will be able to afford one.

Of those interested in buying a home, 75% would use savings for a down payment; 37% would seek alternative funding as well and 25% plan to rely on family support.

When it comes to housing preference, 61% of respondents prefer to buy a detached home, while a mere 36% believe that is realistic, financially.

The majority (52%) would look to the suburbs when purchasing due to affordability constraints.

“When asked, 64% of peak millennials currently believe that homes in their area are unaffordable, with a significant proportion of respondents in both British Columbia (83%) and Ontario (72%) asserting that prices are simply too high,” Royal LePage said. “Of those that do not believe they will be able to own a home in the next five years, 69% stated that they cannot afford a home in their region or the type of home they want, while roughly a quarter (24%) are unable to qualify for a mortgage.”

Source: Canadian Real Estate Wealth – by Justin da Rosa

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Larger mortgages a by-product of income growth, low interest rates

Larger mortgages a by-product of income growth, low interest rates

A prolonged regime of low-interest rates along with a steady trend of rising incomes have more than doubled the amount that Canadians are able to borrow for their home purchases, according to the latest report by a public policy think-tank.

In its newest study titled “Interest Rates and Mortgage Borrowing Power in Canada”, the Fraser Institute stated that from 2000 and 2016, interest rates decreased from 7.0 to 2.7 per cent, while household income rose by 53 per cent nationwide. These developments have increased the maximum size of mortgage homebuyers can qualify for by 53 per cent.

In turn, these trends might have contributed to the prevailing environment of elevated housing prices in metropolitan markets nationwide.

“Increased borrowing power, brought about by falling interest rates and rising incomes, is potentially the most overlooked and least understood factor influencing home prices across Canada,” Fraser Institute president Niels Veldhuis said.

Mortgage-borrowing power in Calgary increased by a staggering 161 per cent, the greatest nationwide. Meanwhile, Vancouver saw a 118-per-cent growth in this metric. Montreal posted 115 per cent, and Toronto saw a 100-per-cent rise.

“This increase in borrowing power — in simple terms — means that an average Canadian family, dedicating the same share of their income to monthly mortgage payments, can afford a mortgage that’s more than twice as big now as it would have been in 2000,” Veldhuis explained.

Interested parties can access the full study here.

 

Source: MortgageBrokerNews.ca by Ephraim Vecina

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