29 May

Bank of Canada Maintains Overnight Rate at 1 3/4%

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Dr. Sherry Cooper

Bank of Canada Maintains Overnight Rate at 1-3/4%

Here are our best rates in Grande Prairie this week! Check out facebook or instagram for a full size view or click to go to our rates page.

In a terse statement, the Bank of Canada maintained its benchmark overnight rate for the fifth consecutive meeting and stated that economy was performing in line with the projections in the Bank’s April Monetary Policy Report (MPR). Following a slowdown in economic activity late last year and in the first quarter of this year, the Bank’s press release said that evidence was mounting that economic growth was rebounding in Q2. “The oil sector is beginning to recover as production increases, and prices remain above recent lows. Meanwhile, housing market indicators point to a more stable national market, albeit with continued weakness in some regions.” The central bank was referring primarily to the weakness in home sales and prices in the Greater Vancouver Area.

The strength in the jobs market is an indicator that businesses see the deceleration in growth as temporary. Recent data show an uptick in consumer spending and exports in the second quarter, and business investment has improved. However, inventories rose sharply in Q1, which could dampen production growth in the next few months.

The recent escalation of trade conflicts between the US and China is heightening uncertainty and economic prospects. Also, “trade restrictions introduced by China are having direct effects on Canadian exports. In contrast, the removal of steel and aluminum tariffs and increasing prospects for the ratification of the new NAFTA agreement (Canada’s acronym for which is CUSMA–Canada-US-Mexican Agreement) will have positive implications for Canadian exports and investment.”

Inflation has edged up to 2% as expected, boosted by the carbon tax on gasoline.

Bottom Line:

Overall, the Governing Council’s optimism that the economy is rebounding has been reinforced, although they acknowledged increasing global risks. The Bank’s future decisions will remain data dependent, and they will be especially attentive to developments in household spending, oil markets and the global trade environment. It is widely expected that the Bank will remain on hold at least until after the October federal election.

The central bank does not share the view of some economists that the economy is headed for recession and rate cuts are necessary. Today’s overnight rate remains below the Bank’s estimate of the neutral rate at about 2.5%, so barring a negative exogenous shock to the Canadian economy, the next rate move could well be to increase overnight rates, but not until after the election

16 May

Top 5 Thnking Millennials should know when buying Real Estate

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Mortgage Broker Grande Prairie top tips when buying a home

Top Tips Article recommended by your Grande Prairie mortgage brokers ht mortgage group for buying a home in 2019

Top 5 Things Millennials Should Know When Buying Real Estate

There are 9 million Millennials in Canada, representing more than 25 percent of the population. Born between 1980 and 1999, the eldest are in the early stages of their careers, forming households and buying their first homes. Buying a home is a daunting process for anyone, but especially so for the first-time home buyer. This is the largest and most important financial decision you will ever make and it should be done with the appropriate investment in time and energy. Making the effort to be financially literate will save you thousands of dollars and assure you make the right decisions for your longer-term financial security.

1. Don’t rush into the housing market–do your homework: learn the basics of savings, credit and budgeting.

Lifelong savings is a crucial ingredient to financial prosperity. You must spend less than you earn, ideally saving at least 10 percent of your gross income. Put your savings on automatic pilot, having at least 10 percent of every paycheck automatically deducted. Money you don’t see you won’t spend. Contributing to an RRSP, at least enough to gain any matching funds your employer will provide, is essential. The Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) is an ideal vehicle for saving for a down payment and now you can contribute as much as $10,000 a year.

You also need to establish a good credit record. Lenders want to see a record of your ability to pay your bills. As early as possible, get a credit card and put your name on cable, phone or other utility bills. Pay your bills and your rent in full and on time. Do not run up credit card lines of credit. The interest rates are exorbitant and the only one who benefits is your bank. Keep your credit card balances well below their credit limit.

Do a free credit check with Equifax every six months to learn your credit score and to see if there are any problems. Equifax tracks all of your credit history, which includes school loans, car loans, credit cards and computer loans. Equifax grades you based on your responsible usage and payments.

Budgeting is also essential and it is easier than ever with online apps. You need to know how you spend your money to discover where there is waste and opportunity for savings. The CMHC Household Budget Calculator helps you take a realistic look at your current monthly expenses.

2. Make a realistic projectory of your future household income and lifestyle and understand its implications for choosing the right property for you.

Millennials are likely relatively new to the working world. Lenders want to see stability in employment and you generally need to show at least two years of steady income before you can be considered for a mortgage. This also applies if you have been working for a few years in one career and then decide to change careers to something completely different. Lenders want to see continuous employment in the same field. If you are self-employed, it is more challenging, and you need professional advice on taking the proper steps to qualify for a mortgage.

Assess the stability of your job and the likely trajectory of your income. Millennials will not follow in the footsteps of their parents, working for one employer for forty years. In today’s world, no one has guaranteed job security. Take a realistic view of your future. Will your household income be rising? Will there be one income or two? Are there children in your future? Will you remain in the same city? The answers to these questions help to determine how much space you need, the appropriate type of residence, its location and the best mortgage for you.

Financial planning is key and it is dependent on your goals and expectations.

3. This is not a Do-It-Yourself project: build a team of trusted professionals to guide you along.

You need expert advice. The first person you should talk to is an accredited mortgage professional. There is no out-of-pocket cost for their services. Indeed, they will save you money.

These people are trained financial planners and understand the ever-changing mortgage market. Take some time with them to understand the process before you jump in and find your head spinning with all the decisions you will ultimately have to make. They will give you a realistic idea of your borrowing potential. Before you fall in love with a house or condo, make sure you understand where you stand on the mortgage front. Mortgages are complex and one size does not fit all. You need an expert who will shop for the right mortgage for you. There are more than 200 mortgage lenders in Canada and they will compete for your business.

It is a very good idea to get a pre-approved mortgage amount before you start shopping. This is a more detailed process than just a rate hold (where a particular mortgage rate is guaranteed for a specified period of time). For a pre-approval, the lender will review all of your documentation except for the actual property.

There is far more to the correct mortgage decision than the interest rate you will pay.

While getting the lowest rate is usually the first thing on every buyer’s mind, it shouldn’t be the most important. Six out of ten buyers break a five-year term mortgage by the third year, paying enormous penalties. These penalties vary between lenders. The fine print of your mortgage is key and that’s where an expert can save you money. How the penalty for breaking a mortgage is calculated is key and many monoline lenders have significantly more consumer-friendly calculations than the major banks.[2] A mortgage broker will help you find a mortgage with good prepayment privileges.

The next step is to engage a real estate agent. The seller pays the fee and a qualified realtor with good references will understand the housing market in your location. Make sure the property has lasting value. Once you find the right home, you will need a real estate lawyer, a home inspector, an insurance agent and possibly an appraiser. Make any offer contingent on a home inspection and remediation of significant deficiencies.

4. Down payments, closing costs, moving expenses and basic upgrades need to be understood to avoid nasty surprises.

Mortgage Broker Grande Prairie top tips when buying a home

Top Tips by Grande Prairie mortgage brokers for buying a home 2019

The size of your down payment is key and, obviously, the bigger the better. You need a minimum of 5 percent of the purchase price and anything less than 20 percent will require you to pay a hefty CMHC mortgage loan insurance premium, which is frequently added to the mortgage principal and amortized over the life of the mortgage as part of the regular monthly payment.

Your lender will want to know the source of your down payment. Many Millennials will depend on the largesse of their parents to top up their down payment.

The down payment, however, is only part of the upfront cost. You can expect to pay from 1.5-to-4 percent of the purchase price of your home in closing costs. These costs include legal fees, appraisals, property transfer tax, HST (where applicable) on new properties, home and title insurance, mortgage life insurance and prepaid property tax and utility adjustments. These amount to thousands of dollars.

Don’t forget moving costs and essential upgrades to the property such as draperies or blinds in the bedroom.

5. Test drive your monthly housing payments to learn how much you can truly afford.

Affordability is not about how much credit you can qualify for, but how much you can reasonably tolerate given your current and future income, stability, lifestyle and budget.

Most Millennials underestimate what it costs to run a home, be it a condo or single-family residence.

The formal qualification guidelines used by lenders are two-fold:

  1. your housing costs must be no more than 32 percent of your gross (pre-tax) household income; and,
  2.  your housing costs plus all other debt servicing must be no more than 40 percent of your gross income.

Lenders define housing costs as mortgage payments, property taxes, condo fees (if any) and heating costs.[3] But homes cost more than that. In your planning, you should also other utilities (such as cable, water and air conditioning), ongoing maintenance, home insurance and unexpected repairs. Taking all of these costs into consideration, the 32 percent and 40 percent guidelines might well put an unacceptable crimp in your lifestyle, keeping in mind that future children also add meaningfully to household expenses and two incomes can unexpectedly turn into one.

The best way to know what you can afford is to try it out. Say, for example, you qualify for a mortgage payment of $1400 a month and adding property taxes and condo fees might take your monthly housing expense to $1650. A far cry from the $500 you pay now to split a place with 3 roommates. Start making the full payment before you buy to your savings account and see how it feels. Do you have enough money left over to maintain a tolerable lifestyle without going further into debt?

Keep in mind that this is not a normal interest rate environment. Don’t over-extend because there is a good chance interest rates will be higher when your term is up. Do the math (or better yet have your broker do it for you) on what a doubling of interest rates five years from now would do to your monthly payment. A doubling of rates may be unlikely, but it makes sense to know the implication.

Do Your Calculations Look Discouraging?

If so, here are some things you can do to improve your situation:

  • Pay off some loans before you buy real estate.
  • Save for a larger down payment.
  • Take another look at your current household budget to see where you can spend less. The money you save can go towards a larger down payment.
  • Lower your home price — remember that your first home is not necessarily your dream home.

Footnotes:

[1] I would like to acknowledge and thank the many mortgage professionals of Dominion Lending Centres who made contributions to this report.

[2] People break mortgages because of job change, decision to upsize, change neighbourhoods, change in family status or refinancing. The last thing you want to discover is that discharging a $400,000 mortgage 3.5 years into a 5-year term is going to cost you $15,000.

[3] Lenders now also assess your qualification compliance if interest rates were to rise meaningfully, a likely scenario in this low interest rate environment.

Dr. Sherry Cooper

DR. SHERRY COOPER
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres
Sherry is an award-winning authority on finance and economics with over 30 years of bringing economic insights and clarity to Canadians.

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6 May

How to improve your credit score

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HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR CREDIT SCORE GRANDE PRAIRIE

We have access to knowledge and products to help you improve your credit score in Alberta, or Peace River, Grande Prairie all over the place! Canada wide really.

Hey Grande Prairie want to know how to improve your credit score?

When applying for any sort of loan,

one of the most important metrics a lender is going to look at is your credit score.

But what really is a credit score, who keeps track of it, and most importantly, how can you improve yours?

“Credit Score Grande Prairie, it’s a catchy line. Truthfully, these tips will apply no matter where you live in Canada. Credit scores and everything that can apply to change them happen at a National level here in Canada.”

There are a few simple ways to keep your credit score in good shape.

First off, prioritize paying your bills on time. Missing payments on your credit cards, lines of credit and so on, can have a very negative impact on your score.

You can spend an entire lifetime building up for good credit. All it takes is one mistake to negatively impact you.”
Second, try to keep your credit cards at no more than 65% of their limit. This is the sweet spot that credit scorers are looking for.

Thirdly, you should avoid the “free credit score” services out there because they’re just looking to sell you credit, or sell your information to someone who does.

When you’re looking for credit, what they’re going to ask you is, ‘What are you looking for credit for?’ And you’re going to say, ‘Well, I’m looking to get a mortgage, or I’m looking to get a car loan.’ And then what they’re going to do is they’re going to sell your information to banks and mortgage brokers and people out there who are able to supply you with credit.

Instead, what you should do

is go directly to the credit scoring companies. They’re required by law to give you your credit information directly, without affecting your score. TransUnion offers an online form, found here. Equifax has multiple types of credit reports you can order here.

You also want to try to limit the number of credit inquiries by different lenders. When you’re shopping around at different banks, the number of inquiries can add up as each bank makes an inquiry to see what they can offer you.

But as a mortgage broker, we have access to multiple lenders all at once.

You could effectively come see a mortgage broker, get one inquiry done, and that inquiry is good for 20 financial institutions, As opposed to having to go directly to every bank. If you have any questions, contact your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional near you at your Grande Prairie branch, 780-513-6611

Terry Kilakos

TERRY KILAKOS

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
Terry is President of North East Mortgages based in Ville Ste-Laurent, QC.

 

30 Apr

7 Steps To Buying A Home

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7 STEPS TO BUYING A HOME

To celebrate national new homeowners day, here’s a useful article on 7 steps to buying your home!

Grande Prairie Mortgage Broker at HT Mortgage Group want you to be a new homeowner too!

Let’s celebrate National New Home owners day with a post about the seven steps you need to become a homebuyer too!

It’s important to understand the home buying process, so here’s a 7-step checklist.

Step 1: Down Payment
The hardest part to buying a home is saving the down payment (a gift from the Bank of Mom & Dad also works).
• For purchases under $500,000 minimum down payment is 5%.
• Buying between $501-999,000 you need 5% on first $500,000-PLUS 10% down payment for anything over $500,000.
• Buying a home over $1 million you need 20% down payment.

For any home purchases with less than 20% down payment, you are also required to purchase Mortgage Default Insurance.

Step 2: Strategize, Define Your Budget and get Pre-Qualified
Unless you can afford to buy a home, cash in hand, you are going to need a mortgage.
You need to get pre-qualified, which should not be confused with the term pre-approved.
The big difference is that no approval is ever given by a lender until they have an opportunity to examine the property that you wish to purchase. The bank may love you… but they also must love the property you want to buy.
Pre-qualifying will focus on gathering documentation to prove the information on your mortgage application including credit, debt load, income/employment, down payment etc.

Mortgage brokers will make sure you get a great mortgage rate. Just as important as rates are the terms of your mortgage which should include:
• prepayment options (10-20%)
• penalties
• portability
We also discuss what type of mortgage fits your current situation
• fixed vs variable?
• life of the mortgage (amortization) 25 or 30 years etc.
• payments – monthly, semi monthly, accelerated bi-weekly

Step 3: Set Your Budget
Keep in mind that just because you’re pre-qualified for a certain amount of mortgage, doesn’t mean you can actually afford that amount. Prepare your own monthly budget to be sure.
Typically, your total home payments (including mortgage, property taxes, strata fees & heat) should not exceed 32-39% of your gross (pre-tax) income.

Step 4: Find the Right Property – Time to Engage a Realtor
Once you have been prequalified for a mortgage, based on your budget… you need to find a realtor.
Selecting the right real estate agent is a very important step in the home buying process. When you work with an agent, you can expect them to help you with many things, including:
· Finding a home
· Scheduling tours of homes
· Researching the market, neighbourhood and home itself
· Making and negotiating your offer to purchase, and counter-offers
· Providing expert advice on home buying
· Handling the offer, gathering documentation and closing paperwork
I recommend interviewing at least three realtors. You will quickly decide who has your best interests in mind. Do you want to deal directly with a realtor who’s going to work with directly when you go home hunting, or do you want to deal with a BIG name realtor, who has buyers & sellers realtors working under them? There are advantages to each – you need to decide what is the best fit for your situation.
Get referrals for realtors from friends and family… OR ask me, I have a group of realtors that I know and trust.

Step 5: Mortgage Approval
Once you have found the property you would like to call home, your mortgage broker will send your mortgage application and property information to the lender who is the best fit for your situation, based on your input.
If the lender likes your financial situation and the property, they will issue a “commitment” letter outlining the terms of the mortgage. The lender will send you a list of documents, so they can verify and validate all the information you told them on the mortgage application.

Step 6: Time for the Solicitor (Lawyer or Notary)
Once the lender has reviewed and approved all your mortgage documentation and the property documentation, your file will be sent to your solicitor (in B.C. you can use a lawyer or notary). They will process all the necessary title changes and set up a time for you to meet, review mortgage documents and sign.

Step 7: Get the Keys
On the closing day the documentation for your home purchase will be filed at the land titles office by your solicitor. Typically, the possession date is 1 or 2 days later, giving time for the money (down payment & mortgage) to get to the home seller. On possession day you set up a time to meet with your realtor to get the keys.
Congratulations you’re done – you now own your home!!

Mortgages are complicated, but they don’t have to be… speak to a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker!

Kelly Hudson

KELLY HUDSON

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
Kelly is part of DLC Canadian Mortgage Experts based in Richmond, BC.

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24 Apr

Weekly Rate Update

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Our mortgage rate update for April 24th, 2019.

When you want the best rate trust your Grande Prairie Mortgage Broker to shop for you!

mortgage rate update for April 24th, 2019

17 Apr

April 17th Mortgage Rate Update

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Time to get our April 17th Mortgage Rate Update!

Another beautiful week in Grande Prairie! This week the 4 year and 5 year rates dropped just a little bit. If you want to doublecheck if these are our most current rates, click the picture to be moved to the rates page of our website!

Thumbs up, April 17th mortgage rates dropped again

April 17th Mortgage Rates, this week. Featuring The Gert Martens Mortgage Team, of our very own DLC HT Mortgage Group!

11 Apr

Download our New App to get Pre-Qualified in under 60 Seconds

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Click to download your favorite mortgage brokers App today!

HT Mortgage Group – All of our agents now have an App that will let you get pre-qualifed in under 60 Seconds!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choose whose App you would like to download today!

Megan Lemay, Kaitlyn Moore, Daina Stringer, Gert Martens, Pamela Lobban, Doria Zacharias, Chanele Langevin or Jodi Scotton.

And if you would like to know more about any of our agents go to the Menu Bar up top and choose the “Mortgage Brokers” drop down menu to get feel for who all of our agents are!

 

5 Apr

March Jobs Report in Canada Finally Mirrors Weak Economy

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Job growth stalls in March

Jobs growth stalls in March for the first time in 7 months as jobless rates steady at 5.8%. Housing markets continued weak in March, particularly in the Vancouver region.

 

The employment report had long been a lone bright spot in an economy that had sunk across the board, so the March slump is not surprising. According to today’s jobs report from Statistics Canada, employment fell by 7,200 last month, mostly in full-time positions in the service sector. Canada’s jobless rate held steady at 5.8%, close to a multi-decade low and wage growth ticked modestly higher, although, at a 2.4% year-over-year gain, it remains lower than the reading earlier this cycle.

Employment was up 290,000 over the prior six months, so it was only a matter of time that the jobs numbers would reflect the weakness in the overall economy.

Provincial Unemployment Rates
(% 2019, In Ascending Order)
Province Mar Feb
British Columbia 4.7 4.5
Saskatchewan 4.9 5.8
Manitoba 5.0 5.3
Quebec 5.2 5.3
Ontario 5.9 5.7
Nova Scotia 6.2 6.4
Alberta 6.9 7.3
New Brunswick 7.9 8.5
Prince Edward Island 8.9 10.3
Newfoundland and Labrador 11.5 11.8

Post April 5th, 2019

27 Mar

Federal Budget 2019- What’s changed?

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Our take on the March Federal Budget Announcement for Grande Prairie Homebuyers

  March 27, 2019. Our office has received a ton of questions about the March Federal Budget Announcement for Grande Prairie. This included incentitives planned for first-time hombuyers.

  The only immediate change, is that first time buyers can use up to $35,000 in RRSP money for down payment, up from the previous $25,000 allowed.  You will still need to re-invest this into an RRSP within a 15 year time frame.  If you take out $35,00 that means you should put at least $2,333 back into your RRSP each year. Should you forget to return money to your RRSP, the goverment will have you pay tax for each forgotten portion.

First Time Home Buyer Incentitive 

  The second announcement by our federal government introduced the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive.  The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation will provide first-time buyers up to 10% of the purchase price of a new construction home. They will also give 5% of the purchase price for a resale.  There’s no clear plan for how you the borrower will be required to pay for the loan. This leaves many questions unanswered, and makes it impossible to predict the benefits of this incentive.  It remains very unclear if the government will take an equity position in your home or if you would have an interest-free loan.

You need to understand how this loan will be repaid

  For borrowers, understanding how this loan is required to be repaid is important.  If the government is taking an equity stake in your home, the amount that you the homeowner would have to repay will grow as the value of your home increases.  In this case, I question if this is a good thing for borrowers at all? Potentially you are giving up a lot of your equity at sale time. 

DLC’s Economist, Dr. Sherry Cooper, had this to say about the budget announcement,

“It’s all about increasing demand for housing without doing much to increase supply, and you don’t need to be an economist to know that if you increase demand without increasing supply, you’ll end up with higher house prices, which is the oppose of the intention.”

Encouraging new construction would have been better

  Rather than encouraging more buyers to compete for inadequate housing inventory, Cooper believes construction inducements would have been more beneficial.

“The government could have done things to increase supply, like changing the rules around zoning and the Greenbelt to open up more land,” she said. “They could even subsidize housing construction or eliminate some of the red tape and other delays in construction. There are other things that could have been done to incentivize the construction of new housing.”

March 2019 Mortgages Rates started Falling!

This week our 1 year mortgage rate, 2 year mortgage rate and 5 year mortgage rate all dropped here in Grande Prairie. Watch out for those falling rates!This week we are excited to share that rates are falling! Our 1 year, 2 year and 5 year rates have all dropped!

  The March Federal Budget Announcement for Grande Prairie has also placed limits on the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive:

  • Maximum household income of $120,000
  • At this time only purchase price’s below $400,000 will qualify.

These will further limit how useful this program is for you!

 As we are made aware of updates to this announcement, we’ll let you know!

 

 

Grande Prairie mortgage broker answers questions on the federal budget and it's impacts on buying a home in 2019

Megan Lemay, managing Broker at HT Mortgage Group has had many clients contaact her with questions since the federal govement announced the 2019 Federal Budget!

20 Mar

FEDERAL BUDGET 2019–ACTIONS FOR HOMEBUYERS

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19 MAR 2019

FEDERAL BUDGET 2019–ACTIONS FOR HOMEBUYERS

In its fourth fiscal plan, the Trudeau government spent its entire revenue windfall leaving the deficit projection little changed. In this election budget, Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced $22.8 billion over six years in new spending initiative mostly for homebuyers, students and seniors. Trudeau promised in his first budget to have eliminated all red ink by this year. He will instead head for an October election with an annual deficit of nearly $20 billion. Ottawa is projecting a string of double-digit deficits through the end of 2022.

The key debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to be 30.8% this fiscal year and edges downward only very slowly to 30% over the four-year forecast horizon.

Today’s budget offered help to young homebuyers, many of whom find it very difficult to afford to purchase in some of our more expensive cities. There were two measures targeted at first-time homebuyers:

Maximum Withdrawal from RRSPs Is Increased

The simplest to understand is the $10,000 increase in the federal Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) maximum tax-free withdrawal from RRSPs to $35,000, effective immediately. This allowable withdrawal for first-time buyers will now also apply to people experiencing the breakdown of a marriage or common-law partnership who don’t meet the usual requirement of being a first-time homebuyer.

The new limit would apply to HBP withdrawals made after March 19, 2019.

Those taking advantage of the higher HBP limit will have to keep in mind that the repayment timeline is unchanged. Home buyers must put the money back into their RRSP over 15 years to avoid full ordinary income taxation on HBP withdrawal. Now Canadians using these funds will have to repay a maximum of $35,000 – instead of $25,000 – over the same period.

The Boldest Move: The CMHC First-Time Homebuyer Incentive

A $1.25 billion fund administered by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) over three years will provide 5% of the cost of an existing home and 10% of the price of a new home through what amounts to an interest-free loan to be repaid when the property is sold. The money would go to first-time home buyers applying for insured mortgages. The key stipulations are:
• Users must have a downpayment of at least 5%, but less than 20%;
• Household income must be less than $120,000;
• The purchase price cannot be more than four times the buyers’ household income.
For example, say you’re hoping to buy a $400,000 home with the minimum required 5% down payment, which works out to be $20,000. With the new incentive, you could receive up to $40,000 (for a new home) through the CMHC. Now, instead of taking out a $380,000 mortgage, you’d need to borrow only $340,000. This would lower your monthly mortgage bill from over $1,970 to less than $1,750. The incentive is 10% for buyers purchasing a newly built home and 5% for existing homes.

Homeowners would eventually have to repay this so-called ‘shared mortgage,’ likely at resale, though it is unclear how this would work. CMHC might share in any capital gain (or loss)– receiving 5% or 10% of the sale price (not the purchase price). At the time of this writing, these details had not been hammered out.

These stipulations effectively limit purchases under this plan to properties priced at less than $500,000 ($480,000 maximum in insured mortgage and incentive, plus the downpayment), which is close to the national average sales price of $468,350 (which is down 5.2% from the average price one year ago). However, the national average price is heavily skewed by sales in Greater Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area, two of Canada’s most active and expensive markets. Excluding these two markets from the calculations cuts close to $100,000 off the national average price, trimming it to just under $371,000. What this tells us is that the relief for first-time homebuyers is pretty meagre for young people living in our two most expensive regions.

Arguably, the max price point of $500,000 for this plan is where the affordability challenge only really begins in our higher-priced housing markets. The most acute affordability problems surround medium-sized and larger condo units or single-detached homes in the GTA and GVA; yet, most of these are beyond the price range covered by the CMHC plan. The impact, of course, would be broader in other regions, but affordability in many of those is historically quite normal. The most significant impact will be in low-priced new builds.

Also, mortgage applicants under this plan still have to qualify under the federal stress test, which ensures that borrowers will be able to keep up with the payments even if interest rates rise by roughly two full percentage. The incentive, however, would substantially lower the bar for test takers, as applicants would have to qualify for a lower mortgage.

Before the budget, many stakeholders had been arguing that with the rapid slowdown in the economy and the Bank of Canada unlikely to raise interest rates this year, the B-20 stress test is too onerous and should be eased.

The government is hoping to have the plan up and running by September.

Bottom Line: These housing measures are focused on the demand side of the market, rather than encouraging the construction of new affordable housing. And while the budget does earmark $10 billion over nine years for new rental homes, it does not propose tax breaks or reduced red tape for homebuilders.

Dr. Sherry Cooper

DR. SHERRY COOPER

Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres
Sherry is an award-winning authority on finance and economics with over 30 years of bringing economic insights and clarity to Canadians.

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