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Bank of Canada Raises Over-Night Rate: Jan 2018

Today, the Bank of Canada elected to increase its target for the overnight rate to 1.25%, up from 1%. Why? The economy is near full capacity, we are near the target inflation rate, and  recent financial data suggests it’s time to slow down.

With estimates by the Bank that the GDP growth in 2017 reached 3.0%, the Bank feels this will drop in 2018 and thus the overnight rate may remain stable for a while and perhaps even fall if predictions come true later in the year.

The current state of the NAFTA negotiations is also causing some concerns relative to future economic predictions. A down tick in trade could vastly impact business investment in Canada. Even with this uncertainty there is positive news. The lower business capital gains rate in the US has freed up cash for more investment by US companies and Canada stands to gain from export opportunities.

With all the uncertainty, the Bank of Canada recognizes however that higher interest rates may be warranted over time if warranted. The Bank however does not want to be the cause of any stagnation over time or cause the inflation rate to falter.

The Bank states it will “remain cautious in considering future policy adjustments” carefully analyzing the data to evaluate “the economy’s sensitivity to interest rates, the evolution of economic capacity, and the dynamics of both wage growth and inflation.”

The Banks of Canada’s next interest rate statement is set for March 7th. You can read the full Bank of Canada rate hike announcement here.

I welcome any questions about how these recent interest rate changes can possibly impact your home buying or mortgage needs, so please don’t hesitate to give me a phone call or drop me an email. I’m here to help you.

At Your Service,

Michael J Preston

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You only get one chance to make a great first impression. Staging Your House Right is Key!

When you put your home on the market, your goal is to sell it quickly and for top dollar. Properly staging your house right from day one will create an amazing impression that will generate a huge buzz!

Staging isn’t so much an expense as it is an investment. Not only is your home likely to sell for a higher price but it will probably sell much faster which is important because homes that sit on the market can quickly lose their value.

Staging your house starts with an ultra clean, de-cluttered and de-personalized home. Buying a home is an emotional decision so buyers must be able to envision themselves living there which is why photographs, trophies and kids’ artwork have to go.

A stager also ensures your home is inviting to buyers by enhancing the functionality and flow of each room. They can remove and store furniture so the house looks as spacious as possible and use lighting and other tricks to warm up the feel of your home. A properly staged home will also look much more appealing to those browsing online which will generate more showings.

If you want to stage your home yourself, you’ll have to go beyond the basics. Start cleaning up the front yard, the porch, the garage and don’t forget the back garden. Buyers have a tough time visualizing themselves in unfurnished rooms so turn your craft room back into a bedroom or transform an awkward nook into a reading spot by setting out a comfy chair and lamp.

Lighting is Very Important

Great lighting will create a warm and welcoming ambience so make sure you update your light fixtures, lamps and light bulbs. Buyers will also be snooping through your cupboards and closets as storage space is often an important factor so don’t forget to stage those areas as well.

Remember, staging your house right it is much more likely to make a great first impression and capture the hearts of home buyers. Whether you pay a professional to stage your home or do the work yourself, staging is a worthwhile investment that will massively increase the odds of your home selling quickly and for top dollar.

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2018 Mortgage Rule Changes in Canada.

Tighter Rules Could Mean No Mortgage for Some Canadians.

The new mortgage “stress test” came into effect on Jan. 1, 2018 in Canada requiring virtually all prospective home buyers to meet tighter lending restrictions. According to some estimates, the tighter qualifying standard could shut out some 10% of lower down payment buyers compared to regulations in 2017.

Toronto and Vancouver will likely see the biggest impact from the new restrictions but the effects will no doubt ripple into smaller communities.

The new “stress test” will affect home buyers applying for mortgages that are less than 80 per cent of the value of the property they wish to purchase. Borrowers will have to qualify for rates that are higher than the contractual mortgage rate they would actually be eligible to assume. This effectively reduces the buying power of a consumer with an uninsured mortgage by about 20 per cent, according to some industry experts.

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Canada (OSFI) published the final version of Guideline B-20 − Residential Mortgage Underwriting Practices and Procedures.

OSFI is setting a new minimum qualifying rate, or “stress test,” for uninsured mortgages.

  • Guideline B-20 now requires the minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages to be the greater of the five-year benchmark rate published by the Bank of Canada or the contractual mortgage rate +2%.

These rules assure that all mortgage holders can cope with any unforeseen rising interest rates and are now similar to those rules already in effect for borrowers with down payments under 20 per cent.

Many concerns were submitted as comments and responses were issues by OSFI on topics such as mortgage renewal qualifications. These comments can be reviewed here on the OFSI website.

“These revisions to Guideline B-20 reinforce a strong and prudent regulatory regime for residential mortgage underwriting in Canada,” said Superintendent Jeremy Rudin.

Paul Taylor, President and CEO of the Mortgage Professionals Canada, is concerned about how much these changes will impact the real estate market and suggests that it could stress smaller communities. Taylor says, “Reducing the number of people who can afford those homes now is only going to exacerbate the problem,” He goes on to say, “When house prices come down, you can potentially create a recessionary environment in pockets across the country.”

Time will tell, probably sooner than later, what effects these mortgage qualification rules will bring about for Canadians.

If we can help you with obtaining a mortgage please contact Michael J Preston at 705-309-1747.

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Staging Your House for Maximum Value

Staging is all about highlighting a home’s best features in order to ensure it appeals to as wide of an audience as possible. This month’s article shows why a properly staged home will sell faster and for a higher price.

There’s also some great advice on how to enjoy a better night’s sleep as well as a unique gift idea that helps people in need from all around the world build successful businesses.

Thanks so much for checking out this month’s newsletter. Please get in touch if you have any questions or comments regarding the articles, or real estate in general — it’d be great to hear from you!

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BDC: Global growth brings good news for Canadian entrepreneurs in 2018 Economic Outlook

2018 Economic Outlook: Economies everywhere are having a banner year, and there’s more to come…

Canada had solid economic growth of 2.9% in 2017, having weathered the oil price shock of the past two years. Our economy is on a solid footing. The expansion has been broad-based, with all sectors of the economy contributing. Our goods exports are up 8.7% year over year. Business investment, which is absolutely critical to continued growth, has also improved. At the same time, Canada’s labour market has been thriving, adding 343,000 jobs year to date, with nearly all in full-time employment.

Canada should have a solid growth of 2% in 2018.

While growth of the Canadian economy will slow to about 2% in 2018, this is still decent growth. (read more of this 2018 economic outlook report by BDC…)

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The Canadian Housing Market: When the Fog Clears by Benjamin Tal

Benjamin Tal, the chief analyst recently wrote about the Canadian housing market saying,”The level of activity is likely to stabilize and perhaps soften in the coming quarters as markets adjust to recent and upcoming regulatory changes. But when the fog clears it will become evident that the long-term trajectory of the market will show even tighter conditions. The supply issues facing centres such as Toronto and Vancouver will worsen and demand is routinely understated. Short of a significant change in housing policies and preferences, there is nothing in the pipeline to alleviate the pressure.”

Housing market Correlated CitiesCertainly, in 2017, the Toronto and Vancouver housing market has been the driving force behind the economics in recent years with no real change in store. Tal goes on to say, “The affordability issue in those cities that are leading to the “drive until you qualify” phenomena works to amplify their influence on neighbouring real estate markets.” In other words, more and more homebuyers are looking further and further outside of Toronto and Vancouver for more affordable real estate options. This only drives up prices not only in the suburbs but in towns and cities within 1 to 2 hours drive of the major centres.

The knock-on effect relative to Toronto is that homebuyers are looking to our region in and around Orillia, Barrie and Midland. These buyers are typically well paid and can afford to pay more for a home than their counterparts who live and work in the region. This complicates and inflates the cost of living for many more local residents looking to either get in or move up in the home buying market. This is continuing good news for home sellers in our region but not at all good for many families looking to buy.

A qualified real estate representative who is on top of the local and national market trends is still the best choice to provide homebuyers with accurate data to buy or sell in this foggy market. We at Lakeview Realty Inc. would be pleased to discuss your real estate needs.

Benjamin Tal’s complete article on the Canadian housing market can be read at CIBC World Market In Focus.


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Major Changes to Canada’s Housing Mortgage Rules

percent sign - mortgagesIn an effort to keep Canadians from taking on a larger mortgage than they can afford the Liberal government has announced significant changes to the mortgage qualification rules. Finance Minister Bill Morneau also noted these changes should help stem some of the concerns about foreign buyers buying and flipping houses such that they drive up housing costs for Canadians.

Beginning on October 17, 2017, the stress test used to approve high-ratio mortgages will be applied to every new insured mortgage, including buyers who have more than 20% down payment. This change assures lenders that the borrower will still be able to afford the mortgage payments even if the interest rate increases

Another aspect of the change requires that the home buyer will be spending no more than 39% of their income on house-related costs like the mortgage payments, heat, and taxes. The TDS ratio must not be more than 44%.

The home borrower would not only have to qualify at the lenders’ interest rate but also at the Bank of Canada’s five-year fixed posted mortgage rate, which is an average of the posted rates of the big six banks in Canada.

These changes affect a broad range of mortgage consumers assuring safety for both the borrowers and lenders in the midst of the current low-interest rate market.

Further changes are outlined in the Globe and Mail article here

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Excerpt on Economy Posting by DR. SHERRY COOPER,
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres

“The Canadian economy has grown at a stronger-than-expected annual rate of 3.7% in the past year, taking the jobless rate down to its lowest level in nearly a decade. With Canada’s economy the strongest in the Group of Seven countries, Ottawa now projects much smaller deficits than it did in March. The Liberal government cut its deficit projection for the fiscal year that ends March 31 to just under $20.0 billion, down from $28.5 billion in the March budget. It now expects a cumulative deficit over the coming five fiscal years of $86.5 billion, compared with $120 billion previously.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced new spending today totalling $7.7 billion over six years, bringing the total new spending since the March budget to $19.1 billion over six years. This additional stimulus comes as the economy is running far faster than its long-run potential noninflationary pace, rapidly approaching full capacity.” Read More

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Mortgage Rules Change

OSFI extends ‘stress test’ to all new mortgages
  • The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) released revised “B-20” guidelines for residential mortgage underwriting at federally regulated financial institutions. As was widely expected, the updated ‘stress test’  will be applied to all new mortgages beginning on January 1, 2018. Currently, the test applies only to mortgages requiring insurance (i.e. those with low down payments) and those whose term is less than five years.
  • This change requires that borrowers qualify for mortgages at the greater of the Bank of Canada’s five-year benchmark rate or the contracted rate plus 200 basis points. For reference, as of this morning, the Bank of Canada posted rate was 4.89%. It should be noted that OSFI will not apply the more stringent requirements in the case of mortgage renewal.
  • While the extension of qualification guidelines will likely draw the most attention, OSFI introduced two other changes:
    • Loan-to-value limits must be established and lenders will be required to ensure that they “are reflective of risk and are updated as housing markets and the economic environment evolve”
    • Lending arrangements designed to get around loan-to-value limits are restricted with the updated guideline explicitly forbidding ‘co-lending’ or ‘bundling’ arrangements.
Key Implications
  • As expected, OSFI has expanded the scope of the ‘stress test’ to include anyone taking out a mortgage at a federally regulated institution regardless of the term and whether they are insured. Perhaps underscoring the logic behind the change, OSFI bank data for August of this year showed insured mortgages (which were already subject to the stress test) were down 4.5% year-on-year, while uninsured mortgage credit grew 17.3%. While this is partly related to the rising prices of Canadian real estate, with more and more of it priced above the insurance caps, it also likely reflects the skew stemming from the past stress test requirements. As such, today’s change, alongside the explicit guidance around co-lending arrangements, will together help address the shift as far as those borrowing from federally regulated institutions.  
  • As discussed in our regional housing outlook, broadening the stress test will likely further slow housing activity, depressing demand by 5% to 10% once implemented, with some pull-forward of activity likely to take place ahead of the January 1st implementation date. Price growth will also be impacted, with these changes expected to exert a drag of between 2% and 4% over 2018. On balance, these changes should help enhance the resilience of the Canadian banking system in a rising interest rate environment.
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Keep Emotion in Check in Real Estate Transactions

Never wear your emotions on your sleeve during the real estate ride.

Selling your home is a huge financial transaction that can trigger a roller coaster of emotions.  When you’re being tossed around at every turn, you need to hang on and stay on track.

Although you’ll likely have a strong connection to your home, try not to get offended if a potential buyer wants to rip up your kitchen or paint over the wood trim.

Also, never take comments personally.  It’s natural for people to complain when they’re interested in something so while criticisms may seem negative, they’re actually a sign that the buyer’s interested in your home.

If you receive a “low ball” offer, remember that it’s often just a starting point but be aware of tactics such as “low balling” where an attractive price is initially offered only to be adjusted at a later point on the basis that circumstances have changed.  Recognizing these strategies will help you keep a balanced perspective.

If you’re able to generate multiple offers, make sure you consider more than just the price.  There’s nothing worse than accepting a conditional offer just because it’s over the asking price only to have it fall apart a month later when you could have accepted a firm cash offer that was almost as good.

It’s completely natural for both buyers and sellers to experience a wide range of intense emotions as they navigate through the complex real estate process.  However, if you hop on the real estate roller coaster with a competent agent by your side, you’ll not only enjoy the ride but you’ll look forward to doing it again!