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Toronto Mortgage Blog
September 22, 2010
Are We Prepared To Face Higher Interest Rates?
The declining interest rates are basically the reason why there is an increase on the number of home buyers in the past year, as well as on the increase in mortgage debt. This has actually attracted massive media coverage and a lot has assumed that some reckless borrowers might not be prepared to pay for the expected higher interest rates, since the economy has just recovered from the 2008-2009 recession.
This triggered several different opinions from the public, and many expressed that some buyers who borrowed at a maximum might not be able to afford paying for it, as soon as the interest rates increase.
Unfortunately, the mortgage data in Canada is very slim, therefore these opinions are mere speculations only, and cannot be based on actual facts. To provide a more accurate discussion on the issue, CAAMP has conducted some research:
· In January, they issued a report where they reviewed numerous mortgage transactions in 2009, and they found out that a big percentage of the borrowers allowed themselves a substantial room to absorb the increase on the mortgage rates. For most of these borrowers, the GDS as well as the TDS ratios are way far below their maximum. Therefore, most of them would be able to tolerate interest rates, even if it increases to as high as 5.25%. This particular report may be obtained through CAAMP's website.
· Another report conducted on the Spring 2010, done by CAAMP about the mortgage market, has provided a more thorough data analysis, which was based in a survey on 3,000 Canadians, and includes 1,800 mortgage holders, which is just vast enough to sample a good analysis. Such report may also be obtained through CAAMP's website.
The spring 2010 survey has actually obtained data on the current situation of the mortgages. They asked the mortgage holders as to how much their payment would have to increase before they won't be able to afford to make any payment.
This data was used to calculate how much was each of these consumers’s monthly interest cost would change if their mortgage rate is at 5.25%. These changes were then compared to how much they could pay for.
In actual fact, there are about 5.555 million mortgage holders all over Canada, and about 1 million of them had foreseen their costs to fall into the next renewal. The remainder, which is about 4.55 million of them, was expecting their cost to increase and that 3.7 million of them said that they could still afford any increase.
This means that there are only 850,000 mortgage holders to worry about, and this comprises of the 375,000 who reported that making their payments is already an issue, and another 475,000 who expressed that they might have trouble making payments in the future.
These 475,000 borrowers who expected that they might not be able to make payments, as well as the 375,000 who had already admitted they were having difficulties on payments, are what we need to be apprehensive about.
If a big percentage of them starts having default payments on their mortgages, the result would be catastrophic. But is that likely to happen? If we dig deeper on the data, the threats are actually much lower than what these estimates have suggested.
While there are 375,000 who admitted having difficulty with the payments, and about 50,000 of them have missed out one or more payments for over the past year, most of these people actually have never ever missed any single payment.
This data actually gives a two-part message, which basically applies to those who might be having difficulties in future payments. First and foremost, when challenged, we often think that we have capacities that we are not aware of. Next, majority of Canadians are actually taking their mortgages very seriously, and are willing to find several ways to pay for their obligations.
The survey also shows us that there will be a large number of Canadians that will be able to increase their payment beyond what is required of them, and might do a lump sum pre-payment. This simply means that they have lowered their amortizations period. So in case they will face unaffordable increase in the future on their mortgage costs, they will have enough room to extend their amortization periods as well as reduce their payments.
A large number of mortgage holders are actually paying more than what they are required of them. The survey data had showed that about 40% of these mortgage holders are paying about $100 per month, and even more than that. And again, this is an indication that borrowers would have enough room to adjust their payments in case they will be having some difficulties in the future.
In worst case scenarios, the borrowers can actually solve any trouble on the payment by selling some of their properties. The data further shows that among those who might get into trouble with their payments in case the interest increases to 5.25%, are actually fewer than 10% of those that have less than $20,000 equity in their homes, and about 70% of them have $50,000 or more in equity. In the same manner, those that were already facing some challenges, only about 5% of them have less than $20,000 in equity, while almost 80% have $50,000 or more in their equity.
The data gathered by CAAMP during Spring 2010 survey shows that the large numbers of Canadians are very much concerned with their mortgage costs and that some might encounter difficulties in the future, as compared to when their interest rates increases.
However, the data from the April survey as that of January reports in mortgage transactions reveal that Canadians are highly motivated when it comes to meeting their mortgage obligations, and that a lot of them could make necessary adjustments to make it through all these challenges.
There are about 1.3 million mortgages in Canada now and that most of their mortgages were obtained through a mortgage broker, making the payments already a challenge for almost 100,000 of these mortgages, and another 100,000 of them might lead to some serious problems. Mortgage brokers will soon be contacted by frustrated clients in the coming two years. By helping these clients make the best of their situation, they have to prove their professionalism. Thing is, I cannot think of any way to earn the respect and trust of these clients.
August 13, 2010
Are all in Harmony Now?
Since the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) has now finally come true in both B.C. and Ontario, a lot have been wondering on how this will affect the real estate market in the long run? Well, the answer is that it will have a double effect. First and foremost, the arrival of HST will have a lesser impact on the real estate markets as well as on the home values, simply because the new tax is only applied to those newly built homes that cost over $525,000. The sales of those existing homes, actually comprises a far greater percentage in the market, thus, it will not have any big impact and we'll soon be seeing some of the contractors and developer's creative measures in helping to offset the real cost of the extra tax on these new home sales.
Alternatively, the impact will be more unpredictable if we look at it on an emotional perspective.
First, we've got to consider Canada's relatively great economic bound this past year, wherein it was fuelled by two things - the large government spending, and the lowering of interest rates. Combine this with the fact that Canada did not have any fundamental reason for being forced into a recession, then it would really be easy to see how we are able to get out of it so quickly. However, all good things are bound to end, and that the recorded low interest rates would have nowhere to go but to increase again, and as soon as the provincial governments will realize that they do not need to keep-up spending their way out of the recession, they will have to fund some ways to pay for their newly accumulated debts. Both the governments in Ontario and BC are now facing difficulty into convincing the public that the HST is necessary in order to make up for all those spending that have helped the economy to recover from the recession. If you're going to combine this with the most certain raise of interest rates, then, you have the perfect storm.
Several consumers in Ontario as well as in BC rushed to the market right before the HST could take effect. Well, in reality, this new tax, whether it's warranted or not, was not effectively sold to the public, particularly in the BC area. In fact, it caused some confusion and some public consumers are anxious about it, and these negative emotions can never build confidence to the consumers. In reality though, the new tax should be considered as a short impact only, and won't have a longer impact on consumer spending. However, the emotional impact that this new tax has brought will become stronger, and unpredictable.
This can actually result to the consumer's lack of confidence to the market, and will typically do nothing. All these confusion and fear is basically a result of the government's poor education to the public, and thus, resulted to more consumers choosing to step off on the playing field and stand on the sidelines. Instead of spending, they will hold off on large purchases, until they would be able to better comprehend the actual result of HST.
And because of the public's reactions, the prices of the expenditures would settle over the entire course of winter, and can only rebound on the spring of 2011, as soon as the public would be able to adjust to the reality of the HST. Fear and confusions will then be replaced with the rightful knowledge and acceptance of the reality. They will soon realize that the rates have not really increases as much as what they have feared it to be and that even a hundred percent increase is still considered cheap. And therefore, consumer confidence will soon rebound and it might happen on 2011, and that they will soon recover the losses that they have incurred during fall and summer, and the market will then continue as it always has been. And that is what should really happen.
Having obtained some of the economic fundamentals in the world, Canada is becoming the envy of many. Our real estate here is becoming stronger and we acknowledge that the interest will increase, but we knew that they won't inflate too high and too fast. We know that this HST is now here to stay and will certainly cause an impact to some housing prices. However, our confidence and resiliency will mean that the effects will not be as alarming, as some people would often want us to believe.
April 26, 2010
Low Interest Rates Continue... For Now
The good news is that CREA forecasts national activity will reach 527,300 units is 2010, a rise of 13.3% from 2009. Continued low interest rates are boosting housing demand in nearly all provinces during the first half of this year, led by BC and Ontario, two provinces where many buyers are also motivated to avoid the HST before it comes into effect July 1, 2010.
During the second half of 2010, CREA expects national activity to ease, as the last of the pent-up demand for housing is exhausted, and interest rates start rising. Looking even further ahead, CREA expects interest rate increases to contribute to a seven percent decline in sales activity for 2011, but doesnt expect the higher rates to put housing out of reach for most buyers.
Although interest rates are expected to rise, the will still be low enough to keep affordability within reach for many homebuyers requiring mortgage financing, and support overall demand.
Condominiums have long held a unique position in the housing market, providing affordable options for first-time home buyers, worry-free maintenance for busy lifestyles, and size appropriate options for empty nesters. Todays interest rates continue to allow buyers to consider a wide range of condo options within their budgets, allowing for a healthy market for both the buyer and seller.
If you're considering a move, you'll want the latest information on local housing prices, financing information and new regulations that may have been implemented since you last bought or sold real estate. Please contact your local mortgage broker for that information.
Jan 16, 2010
2010: The year to put your money where your house is
The predicted upswing for the Ontario real estate market gives you one more reason to be grateful you are a Canadian this year, as interest rates remain stable and housing prices rebound.
January 16, 2010 – The global recession brought job loss, bank closures, and the most volatile real estate market on record. As the world endured an economic crisis of unheard of proportions, the housing market experienced some severe lows. Although the Ontario market was not affected to the degree that British Columbia and Alberta were, buyers fueled by fear put the brakes on and caused a dip across the board. The good news? The light has appeared at the end of the tunnel. If 2008 was the year of the housing plummet, 2010 is the year of the real estate rebound.
There are many reasons for this optimistic viewpoint. MLS sales for Toronto have doubled from 888 listings sold in 2009 to 1749 home sales this month alone. This solid start to 2010 is also demonstrated in price of average homes. The median contract price in 2009 was $332,495. This number has bounced back to $395,307 in the first two weeks of January 2010.
In 2010, demand will far outweigh supply. The CMHC reports that housing starts had dropped in 2009 by 39%, thereby increasing the buyers desire to purchase a resale home. Those Canadians who wish to avoid the Harmonized Sales Tax, scheduled for implementation on July 1st, of 2010, will also fuel the resale market.
Residential real estate prices are expected to trend upward, but interest rates should remain stable until spring or later. Amanda Cluett of Bestmortgagerates4u.ca in Toronto, Ontario has seen a huge increase in consumer interest due to low mortgage rates. “The drop in housing starts in 2009 has resulted in an increase in demand on the part of the buyers. You can now receive an interest rate of 3.93% on a 5 year fixed term.” Cluett continues, “Because of our great interest rates, even as prices go up the demand will still increase. 2010 will truly be the year to get out into the market.”
Cluett also has a word of advice for new buyers purchasing real estate in 2010, “It amazes me how many people will approach their banks head on and try to negotiate their mortgages. The beauty of working with your bestmortgagerates4u.ca is that we have access to over 100 lenders, including private lenders.” The bonus to the buyer is that when going to your Ontario mortgage broker they have many more ways to get you qualified and getting you the best rates available.
Working under the umbrella of Trillium Mortgage, Amanda Cluett has many years of experience working with families to ensure that they receive the best rates possible on their mortgage. As the housing market in Ontario begins to turnaround in 2010, watch for your Ontario mortgage brokers up to the minute information on the market fluctuations and best rates.
Oct 11, 2009
Doing home renovation work?
Is your contractor licensed by the city?
Be sure to enter into a contract with a building contractor who has a valid license. Ask the contractor for their license number and call the licensing services in your city to verify this information beore agreeing to any work. For the city of Toronto the number is 416-392-6700.
Subcontractors working for a general contractor must also have a license. The following building contractors must be licensed to operate.
- Building renovators such as roofers, carpenters, concrete workers, waterproofers and bricklayers
- Plumbing contractors
- Insulation installers
- Drain contractors
- Heating contractors
Follow these tips before starting a building a renovation:
- Check with the Building to see if a construction permit is needed for the renovation
- Get at least 3 quotes from contractors that are licensed
- Get their references
- Enter into a written contract
- Contract must include name of the company, business address, business phone number, license number and completion date
- Ensure that all work to be done is clearly stated in the contract
- Ensure that the full price is stated in the contract
- Find a payment schedule that you and your contractor agree on and include it in the contract
There are people who prey on the unsuspecting public and tell you that you need to have renovation work that is maybe not needed. Do not sign anything, or allow work to be done without cosulting someone who is knowledgeable and you can trust.
If you need to file a complaint, call 416-392-3082 for the city of Toronto investigation services.
For information on the home renovation tax credit
For information on home equity mortgages
For information on purchase plus improvements mortgages
Oct 5, 2009
With so many options available to you, narrowing down your search for a new neighborhood to the one thats just right for you seems a daunting taks. To help make it easier, here are a few pointers:
• Make a list of the amenities most important to you. Whether they lean more towards playgrounds and community centers or theatres and restaurants, be sure to include everyday necessities like transit, grocery stores and banks. You may find it helpful to start by listing the amenities in your current neighborhood you've most appreciated and those you feel it was lacking.
• Visit any neighborhood to which you've seriously comtemplating a move more than once, at different times of the day and week. You might discover that an area you had first visited during the day has a different tone at night. As well, you may find it useful to know what rush hour looks like on the highways and streets in and around the area.
• Find out about the crime rates and they types of crimes. Are the property values falling,rising or are they stable. What about the quality of schools in the area. Even if you dont have childeren this could be important for the resale value of your home.
• Work with a real-estate sales representative. In addition to providing you with the information mentioned above, a good sales rep will find out your needs and wants and match them to a community ideal for you. For financing, you should always seek a good mortgage broker, therefore saving you time and money in finding that perfect mortgage for your needs and at the best available rate that you can get.
Aug 27, 2009
There are many things to consider when buying a home. Finding the home that meets the needs of the homeowner requires knowing exactly what they want to begin with or getting a feeling that “this is the one” when they enter a home.
The search for that perfect home causes all homeowners to ask some of the same basic questions. Do I want to live here or there? Is this going to be affordable? Is this the style that I like? Is this want I want now or do I want to plan for the future? Do I want a new home or one that has been passed down from one owner to the next? All this culminates in a home that can be enjoyed for just a few years for some or can be the perfect home for a lifetime for others.
How much is that home on the corner?
Affording a new home is more than just the monthly payment. Taxes, utilities, and upkeep are all important factors to take into consideration before making a purchase. Just because you are pre-approved for a more expensive home doesn’t mean your budget needs to be stretched each month to the limit. A good realtor will find you that home in your price range that you can afford without hitting that upper limit.
Getting pre-approved before you go looking for that perfect home is essential. This will not only allow you to establish the boundaries of your price range, but will allow you to find what you can afford each month, even if there is a change in your finances.
Knowing your price range also allows you to spend the most time looking at the homes you can buy, rather than the homes that are out of your price range. This also allows you to look in the right location for that perfect home.
Do I want to live here or there?
For many, living near certain places is the motivating factor when buying a home. Being close to work, where they shop, or in the same vicinity of schools or parks that their children will attend and play are all things that a homeowner looks at when buying a home.
Choosing a good location is one of the most fundamental things that a homeowner will make when buying a home and will have one of the most drastic affects on resale value. Buying that perfect home on a busy street might mean that you have to sell it later for less than what it is actually worth because no one else wants to live on that street.
If you are looking for a home that you will only need for a short time, location will also allow you to sell it easily if you are in the right place. So make sure you take a tour of the neighbourhood and take an inventory of what is close to the home.
This will also give you a snapshot of what life will be like if you do choose that particular location. If it doesn’t have exactly what you want from the location, have your realtor show you similar neighbourhoods.
Still not finding that “perfect fit”? Have your realtor show you some homes that cost just a little more than what you are expecting to pay. Asking your realtor to talk to others that have listings nearby. They might have information on a home that has the potential to be put on the market soon and has the qualities your looking for now.
What is essential?
Many homeowners struggle when deciding on what they want or need in a home. Some are unable to separate the difference. However, making a list of priorities that you would like in a home and in the neighbourhood, helps with the decision making in the long run. This also allows your realtor to look for those things and show you the right homes in the beginning.
You might want the large kitchen but your significant other wants the large deck. When two people try to decide what is essential to their home, the list gets a little more detailed, and makes the selection process that much more difficult.
Not everyone wants the same things. Taking a step back and asking yourself is this something I want or is this something I need and will use regularly, will help you find the home that has both what you want and need. It will also help you compromise with the other people in the home so that everyone gets a little bit of what they want and need as well.
If this home doesn’t have exactly what you want now, that’s okay. Remember, most people don’t live forever in the first home that they buy. If it is something you can live without for now, you can always get it with the next home you buy.
Don’t expect your list to stay the same as you look at different homes. Even though you think you need a larger space, seeing how different spaces are arranged may show you that a smaller space used differently will work just as well.
Remember, homes on the market are decorated to sell. Don’t get caught up in the paint and trimmings and forget to look at the property as a whole. Small changes that can be made inside are a lot easier than changing the property itself.
What style is right for me?
First time homeowners tend to gravitate to the same styles: condos, town homes, or small bungalows. Which style you decide on is going to be based on the amount for which you’ve been pre-approved.
Town homes make great first homes as they are usually located where other first homebuyers are located. The lifestyles of your neighbours will probably closely mirror your own. Town homes also tend to have a great resale value and are a good investment over a short period of time.
Small bungalows are great for a single twenty-something or young couple without kids. Again, resale value will be based on the location and the essentials that are in the home.
Condos are great for people that might be on the go constantly and don’t want the hassle of having to keep up with the outside maintenance. Many builders will upgrade different features to help with the potential resale value.
Condos might contain free or reduced fees for maintenance and upkeep. These might be paid upfront for a three year period. This will help in keeping your carryover costs down over a length of time.
The condo developer might also absorb some of the closing costs. These might include any mandatory land transfer fees.
Free parking or a reduction in parking is also an amenity used to attract buyers to certain neighbourhoods. Due to the expense of parking and the lack of space for parking, finding or asking about a reduced rate is very important.
Some properties will lose value over time due to the types of neighbourhoods that they belong. If you are seeking a condo in a development, negotiate with the developer to cover part of the decrease so you don’t lose as much when you sell it later.
Knowing what style you want for your first home might not be easy to determine. Let your realtor show you many different styles, and expect to see many different styles as you are touring different homes. This will not only help eliminate styles you don’t like, but reshape your list of essentials that you created earlier.
The best fit for me now and in the future.
Some thinking on immediate needs and future needs is necessary when buying a new home. Will this be a place that you will live in while temporarily transferred from another location by your employer? Will you be getting married or starting your family soon?
Tailoring a home to meet those needs might just mean changing the paint or wallpaper in one room or upgrading the countertops in another. Most people will only stay in their first home for five to seven years according to industry statistics. Finding that home that can be resold at that time needs to be considered.
However, if you are looking to make this a lengthier purchase, make sure you have room to expand in your home. Those extra bedrooms will come in handy as your family or situation changes.
Cosmetic changes to the flooring, countertops, and walls will also help you sell your home on short notice without losing all you have invested in it.
Knowing where to look.
Finding the perfect home is not small step. It takes time and patience to find exactly what you are looking for in a home. Be prepared to spend a lot of time in the car driving around from home to home. Talk to those whose opinions you trust. Ask questions of friends and family, or coworkers about their search for their home.
Searching the Internet for MLS listings can help you determine what types of homes are available in your price range and where they are located. Knowing the location of where you would like to live will help you in your search as well.
Let realtors do some of the work for you. They are a wealth of information and can send you information on different properties and design tours of different types of homes for you. They can even email you different properties that have certain qualities and essentials that you are looking for in a home.
You can even gather data about the neighbourhood’s crime rates, upcoming developments, and housing prices. This can be obtained through phone calls to your local councilor or by calling the local police station. Housing data can be obtained through your realtor.
Drive through neighbourhood at different times of days. This will give you a good idea about what the neighbourhood is like on a weekend versus a weekday and how it might affect your trip to work. This will also give you an idea of the types of people that live in the neighbourhood. You don’t want to be in a neighbourhood with no kids if you have kids of your own, or vice versa.
Most of all, don’t buy a home based on a first impression. Do your research, visit it at different times of day, and make sure you are pre-approved for the cost of the home. This will go a long way in making sure you are happy with the final purchase.
This Old Home
Many homeowners debate between buying new homes or older homes, which are known as resales. Just like with any purchase, price range, location and the essentials you want in a home will determine if you buy a new or older home.
New homes generally have the following characteristics:
Current trends in architecture and design: Homes that are new will have the latest in design features such as materials, floor coverings, windows, and features.
Upgrade in choices: Since many homes will not be finished if they are new when you buy them, you can decide on what amenities are upgraded such as cabinets, lighting/electrical fixtures, plumbing and flooring.
Up-to-date building codes: Homes built today must follow all current building codes and meet certain energy and efficiency standards.
Lower maintenance costs: Since everything is new, maintaining them will cost you less per year. Many will even still be under warranty. Make sure you do have maintenance money set aside for any unexpected emergencies that may occur.
Homebuilder’s warranty: The builder of the home may provide a warranty on major systems such as plumbing or heating if it breaks down in the first few years. Make sure you check the conditions that are listed in the warranty and ask any questions about them.
New home warranty programs: Different provincial and territorial governments will provide a new home warranty program to homeowners. There are also private programs as well. Check with your realtor for more information on programs in your territory or province.
Plans for your neighbourhood: Many newer communities have plans for additional schools, shopping centers, or other services that might not be built yet. Check with your local councilor for any major plans that are in the works.
Taxes: New homes require a Goods and Services Tax (GST) and in certain provinces the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). If your home costs less than $450,000, you might qualify for a rebate.
Extra hidden costs: There are additional costs to some newer homes when you might want to add trees or sod to the property to give it a more mature look. Upgrading to a paved driveway will also cost you more. Make sure you know what you want and have it listed in the sale of the home.
Established neighbourhoods: Homes that have been pre-owned will be in neighbourhoods that have already been established. Shopping, schools, and other forms of entertainment will be well established in these areas.
Mature yards: Fencing and mature plants will often grace these yards since they have been tended to over the years.
No taxes: GST/HST taxes don’t apply to older homes unless the home has been remodeled extensively, then it is calculated at the price of a new home.
Decorating changes: The last owners might not have the same taste as you do, so changing the inside décor is going to be a major task. Some might find a home that requires renovation and serious repair work to be done.
Searching for the perfect home is a major undertaking that should not be rushed. If you do have to move quickly, enlist the help of a realtor to help you find the home that will be comfortable for you. Getting pre-approved, listing your essentials, and finding that perfect location will go a long way not only in giving you a home to enjoy, but a home that can be sold when the time to move comes.
July 11, 2009
How important is your credit?
When you’re looking for a loan, mortgage, or credit card, your personal credit report is what lenders look at to make their decision. There are many factors that can affect your credit, some of which are:
· Number of credit accounts
· History of Credit accounts
· Amount of credit available and the balance owing in each account
· How regular you make your payments
· How often and how recently you have applied for credit
Determining your debt ratio can help you determine if they are willing to take the risk in giving you a mortgage. Traditional GDS & TDS ratios are 32% and 40% and if you exceed these debt ratios, mortgage lenders generally wont approve your loan. However, some lenders have different standards and some lenders are willing to let you exceed these ratios if you have a good credit rating. Mortgage lenders look at all your credit card bills, any loans, and how that mortgage would impact your ability to pay if they were to give it to you.
How to figure out your Debt Ratios
To figure out your GDS you work out your mortgage payment (including principal & interest) plus realty taxes + heat + ½ your condo fees (if applicable) for the year. Then you take your annual income and divide it by this. Giving you your Gross Debt Service Ratio (GDS).
To figure out your TDS you work out your mortgage payment (including principal & interest) plus realty taxes + heat + ½ your condo fees (if applicable) for the year. Plus you add all your other commitments. These other commitments may include personal loans, credit card debt, car leases, support payments/alimony, student loans and mortgages on other properties. Many lenders have different methods of calculating credit card debt. Sometimes they will include 5% of the APPROVED credit limit (even though they have nil balances) or they use 5% of the outstanding balance at the time of the application. Again you take your annual income and divide it by the total debt and this give you your Total Debt Service Ratio (TDS).
A Good Tip
It is very important that you maintain a good credit profile. By paying your bills on time, you stay in good credit standing. A good tip to remember is to review your credit report every year to detect any inaccuracies or possible identity fraud. If by any chance you do detect any fraud make sure you contact Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) and your local police department.