25 Jan

Canada is becoming the ‘Switzerland of North America’ for global commercial real estate

Latest News

Posted by: Shahin Golestani

Investment on track for record driven by demand for a haven from global instability and a quest for yield

Investment in Canadian commercial real estate is on track for record, driven by demand for a haven from global instability and a quest for yield.Lyle Aspinall/Postmedia Network

Canadian commercial-property investment is on track to break last year’s record, according to CBRE Group Inc., driven by demand for a haven from global instability and a quest for yield.

CBRE forecasts transactions topping $40 billion for 2017, up at least 15 per cent from last year’s record of $34.7 billion, the real estate services firm said in a statement. Transactions for the fourth quarter haven’t been accounted for yet, but investments for this year through September totalled $33.1 billion, almost matching all of 2016.

Real estate no longer looks like an alternative asset class, Peter Senst, president of Canadian capital markets for CBRE, said in a phone interview. “When you look at relative returns, it stacks up very well against equities, infrastructure, bonds, so it’s becoming more of an acceptable strategy to pursue,” he said. “The deal sizes are getting bigger, the frequency and velocity for the deals getting out are becoming greater.”

Demand for commercial assets in Canada’s most populous cities, including Toronto and Vancouver, is sending prices soaring. The vacancy rates in these cities are among the lowest downtown office vacancy rates across North America. And foreign investors are taking notice. LaSalle Investment Management is targeting global investors for its biggest Canadian real estate fund with assets including offices and storage facilities, and has seen interest from countries including Germany, the U.K. and the Netherlands.

“The average availability rates for industrial assets in Canada is at a record low, and retail, despite the impact of e-commerce, continues to perform well,” Senst said in a statement. “These solid market fundamentals are giving a greater number of investors confidence not only to bid on Canadian commercial real estate assets, but bid aggressively, which has led to sharp increases in asset prices.”

In the U.S., commercial real estate transactions totalled US$339.5 billion for the first three quarters of 2017, down 4.3% from $355.1 billion in the same period of 2016, according to CBRE, which said the difference between the two markets is more about Canada’s boom than any weakness south of the border.

Among the most active investors in Canadian commercial property are pension funds, so far accounting for 26 per cent of all transactions above $10 million, an 82 per cent increase from the same period in 2016, according to CBRE. Foreign demand continues to soar for Canadian commercial investments, accounting for 15 per cent of all transactions above $10 million. One of the attractions for foreign investors is a soft Canadian dollar.

“There are a lot of reasons why groups want to come in — partly the dollar, partly the rule of law,” Senst said. “We look like a relative safe haven. We’re kind of like the Switzerland of North America.”

Source: http://business.financialpost.com/real-estate/property-post/switzerland-of-north-america-is-commercial-property-magnet-2

20 Jan

How mortgage brokers help you get approved by ‘A’ lenders

General

Posted by: Shahin Golestani

 

Every year Canadian families are caught in unexpected bad circumstances only to find out that in most cases the banks and the credit unions are there to lend you money in the good times, not so much during the bad times.

This is where thousands of families have benefited over the years from the services of a skilled mortgage broker that has access, as I do, to dozens of different lending solutions including trust companies and private lending corporations. These short-term solutions can help a family bridge the gap through business challenges, employment challenges, health challenges, etc.

The key to taking on these sorts of mortgages is always in having a clear exit strategy, which in some cases may be as simple as a sale deferred to the spring market. Most times, the exit strategy involves cleaning up credit challenges, getting consistent income back in place and moving the mortgage debt back to a mainstream lender. Or as we would say in the business an ‘A-lender’.

The challenge for our clients over the last few years has been the constant tinkering with lending.

Guidelines by the federal government and the changes of Jan. 1, 2018 represent far more than just ‘tinkering’.

This next set of changes are significant, and will effectively move the goal posts well out of reach for many clients currently in ‘B’ or private mortgages. Clients who have made strides in improving their credit or increasing their income will find that the new standards taking effect will put that A-lender mortgage just a little bit out of reach as of the New Year.

There is concern that the new rules will create far more problems than they solve, especially when it seems quite clear to all involved that there are no current problems with mortgage repayment to be solved.

Yet these changes are coming our way fast.

Are you expecting to make a move to the A-Side in 2018?

It just might be worth your time to pick up the phone and give your Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Specialist a call today.

Article by Tracy Valko,  Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional https://dominionlending.ca/news/mortgage-brokers-help-get-approved-lenders/

20 Jan

9 Reasons Why People Break Their Mortgages

General

Posted by: Shahin Golestani

 

Did you know that 60 per cent of people break their mortgage before their mortgage term matures?

Most homeowners are blissfully unaware that when you break your mortgage with your lender, you will incur penalties and those penalties can be painfully expensive.

Many homeowners are so focused on the rate that they are ignorant about the terms of their mortgage.

Is it sensible to save $15/month on a lower interest rate only to find out that, two years down the road you need to break your mortgage and that “safe” 5-year fixed rate could cost you over $20,000 in penalties?

There are a variety of different mortgage choices available. Knowing my 9 reasons for a possible break in your mortgage might help you avoid them (and those troublesome penalties)!

9 reasons why people break their mortgages:

1. Sale and purchase of a home
• If you are considering moving within the next 5 years you need to consider a portable mortgage.
• Not all of mortgages are portable. Some lenders avoid portable mortgages by giving a slightly lower interest rate.
• Please note: when you port a mortgage, you will need to requalify to ensure you can afford the “ported” mortgage based on your current income and any the current mortgage rules.

2. To take equity out
• In the last 3 years many home owners (especially in Vancouver & Toronto) have seen a huge increase in their home values. Some home owners will want to take out the available equity from their homes for investment purposes, such as buying a rental property.

3. To pay off debt
• Life happens, and you may have accumulated some debt. By rolling your debts into your mortgage, you can pay off the debts over a long period of time at a much lower interest rate than credit cards. Now that you are no longer paying the high interest rates on credit cards, it gives you the opportunity to get your finances in order.

4. Cohabitation & marriage & children
• You and your partner decide it’s time to live together… you both have a home and can’t afford to keep both homes, or you both have a no rental clause. The reality is that you have one home too many and may need to sell one of the homes.
• You’re bursting at the seams in your 1-bedroom condo with baby #2 on the way.

5. Relationship/marriage break up
• 43% of Canadian marriages are now expected to end in divorce. When a couple separates, typically the equity in the home will be split between both parties.
• If one partner wants to buy out the other partner, they will need to refinance the home

6. Health challenges & life circumstances
• Major life events such as illness, unemployment, death of a partner (or someone on title), etc. may require the home to be refinanced or even sold.

7. Remove a person from Title
• 20% of parents help their children purchase a home. Once the kids are financially secure and can qualify on their own, many parents want to be removed from Title.
o Some lenders allow parents to be removed from Title with an administration fee & legal fees.
o Other lenders say that changing the people on Title equates to breaking your mortgage – yup… there will be penalties.

8. To save money, with a lower interest rate
• Mortgage interest rates may be lower now than when you originally got your mortgage.
• Work with your mortgage broker to crunch the numbers to see if it’s worthwhile to break your mortgage for the lower interest rate.

9. Pay the mortgage off before the maturity date
• YIPEE – you’ve won the lottery, got an inheritance, scored the world’s best job or some other windfall of cash!! Some people will have the funds to pay off their mortgage early.
• With a good mortgage, you should be able to pay off your mortgage in 5 years, there by avoiding penalties.

Some of these 9 reasons are avoidable, others are not…

Mortgages are complicated… Therefore, you need a mortgage expert!

Give a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist a call and let’s discuss the best mortgage for you, not your bank!

Article by Kelly Hudson Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professionalhttps://dominionlending.ca/news/9-reasons-people-break-mortgages/

20 Jan

Bank of Canada Raises Rates Cautiously

Latest News

Posted by: Shahin Golestani

As was widely expected, the Bank of Canada announced another quarter-point interest rate increase this morning, saying that more hikes are ahead. According to Governor Stephen Poloz, the “big cloud” over the Canadian economy is the uncertainty associated with NAFTA and he cautioned that it would be some time before interest rates return to normal levels as some monetary stimulus remains warranted.

The Bank of Canada increased the target overnight interest rate to 1.25%, its highest level since the global financial crisis marking the third rate hike since July. The move comes in the wake of unexpected labour market tightening and strong business confidence and investment. The Canadian economy is bumping up against capacity constraints as the jobless rate has fallen to its lowest level in more than 40 years.

Inflation is just shy of the 2.0% target level and wage rates are rising, albeit at a relatively moderate pace.

Exports have been weaker than expected. NAFTA uncertainty is “weighing increasingly” on Canada’s economic outlook as cross-border shifts in auto production are already beginning.

Consumption and housing will slow due to higher interest rates and new mortgage guidelines. According to today’s Monetary Policy Report (MPR), “growth of household credit has slowed somewhat since the first half of 2017, even though some households may have pulled forward borrowing in anticipation of the new B-20 guidelines related to mortgage underwriting from the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI). This slowing is consistent with higher borrowing costs due to the two policy rate increases in 2017.” Home sales increased considerably in the fourth quarter in advance of the tightening OSFI mortgage rules implemented beginning this year.

The MPR goes on to comment that “residential investment is now expected to be roughly flat over the two-year projection horizon. The rate of new household formation is anticipated to support a solid level of housing activity, particularly in the Greater Toronto Area, where the supply of new housing units has not kept pace with demand. However, interest rate increases, as well as macroprudential and other housing policy measures, are expected to weigh on growth in residential investment, since some prospective homebuyers may take on smaller mortgages or delay purchases.”

With higher interest rates, debt-service costs will rise, thus dampening consumption growth, particularly of durable goods, which have been a significant driver of spending in recent quarters. “Elevated levels of household debt are likely to amplify the impact of higher interest rates on consumption, since increased debt-service costs are more likely to constrain some borrowers, forcing them to moderate their expenditures.”

While global oil price benchmarks have risen in the past quarter or so, Canadian oil prices have been flat. Transportation constraints facing Canadian oil producers have held down the price of Western Canada Select oil, leaving it just below October levels. Canadian oil producers have trouble getting oil to the U.S. market, and with no East-West pipelines, they cannot export oil to markets outside of the U.S. This has been a long-standing negative for the Canadian economy.
Markets have been expecting three rate hikes this year, taking the overnight rate to 1.75% by yearend. This level is considerably below the Bank of Canada’s estimate of the so-called neutral overnight rate, which is defined as “the rate consistent with output at its potential level (approximately 1.6%) and inflation equal to the 2.0% target.” For Canada, the neutral benchmark policy rate is estimated to be between 2 .5% and 3 .5%. The need for continued monetary accommodation at full capacity suggests policymakers aren’t anticipating a return to neutral anytime soon.

The Bank’s revised forecasts for inflation and real GDP growth are in the following table. The numbers in parentheses are from the projection in the October Monetary Policy Report. Today’s MPR forecasts that inflation will edge upward while economic growth slows from the rapid 2017 pace (3.0%) to levels more consistent with long-term potential (1.7% to 1.8%).

The Bank of Canada’s future actions will continue to be data dependent. The next policy announcement is on March 7.

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.

15 Jan

December Homes Sales Surged In Advance of New Mortgage Rules

Latest News

Posted by: Shahin Golestani

The January 1 implementation of the new OSFI B-20 regulations requires that uninsured mortgage borrowers be stress-tested at a mortgage rate 200 basis points above the contract rate at federally regulated financial institutions. It is no surprise that home sales rose in advance of the new ruling in November and December. Even so, activity remains below peak levels earlier in 2017 and prices continued to fall in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and in Oakville-Milton, Ontario for the eighth consecutive month. Prices also fell last month in Calgary, Regina, and Saskatoon–cities that have suffered the effects of the plunge in oil and other commodity prices beginning in mid-2014.

Mortgage Rates Are Rising

Ever since the release of exceptionally strong year end employment data for Canada on January 5th, there has been a widespread expectation that the Bank of Canada would hike the target overnight interest rate by 25 basis points this Wednesday, taking it to 1.25 percent. Indeed, market rates have already risen in response to this expectation. The Royal Bank was the first to hike its posted 5-year fixed mortgage rate to 5.14 percent last Thursday, up from 4.99 percent. Other banks quickly followed suit.

It used to be that a hike in the posted rate was of little consequence because borrowers’ contract rates were typically much lower. However, government regulations put in place in October 2016 now force borrowers with less than a 20 percent down payment to qualify at the posted rate. And the new OSFI regulations effective this year now require even those with more than a 20 percent down payment to qualify at a rate 200 basis points above the contract mortgage rate at federally regulated financial institutions.

It has been four years since the posted five-year fixed mortgage rate exceeded 5 percent. And it has been nearly a decade since homebuyers had to qualify at contract mortgage rates that high–when government stress-testing rules didn’t exist. A decade ago, house prices in Canada’s major cities were substantially lower. Indeed, as the table below shows, house prices in the Greater Vancouver Region, Fraser Valley and the Lower Mainland of British Columbia have increased by nearly 80 percent in just the past five years. In the GTA, home prices are up over 60 percent over the same period. These price gains dwarf income increases by an enormous margin. So clearly, housing affordability has plummeted and the combination of tightening regulations and rising interest rates will no doubt dampen housing activity.

This is one factor that could weaken the case for a Bank of Canada rate hike this week. Another is the potential failure of NAFTA negotiations–a threat to three-quarters of Canada’s exports. Additionally, inflation remains low and wage gains–though rising–are still quite moderate.

Hence the case for a Bank of Canada rate hike this week is not incontestable.

U.S. market interest rates have risen significantly this year, and many bond traders are now forecasting the end of the secular bull market in bonds as the U.S. economy approaches full-employment and fiscal stimulus (the recent tax cuts) will boost the federal budget deficit.

December Home Sales Rise

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) reported today that national home sales jumped 4.5% from November to December–their fifth consecutive monthly increase. Activity in December was up in close to 60% of all local markets, led by the GTA, Edmonton, Calgary, the Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island, Hamilton-Burlington and Winnipeg.

While activity remained below year-ago levels in the GTA, the decline there was more than offset by some sizeable y-o-y gains in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Vancouver Island, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa and Montreal.

New Listings Shot Up

Many sellers decided to list their properties ahead of the mortgage rule changes. The number of newly listed homes rose 3.3% in December. As in November, the national increase was overwhelmingly due to rising new supply in the GTA. New listings and sales have both trended higher since August. As a result, the national sales-to-new listings ratio has remained in the mid-to-high 50% range since then.

A national sales-to-new listings ratio of between 40% and 60% is consistent with a balanced national housing market, with readings below and above this range indicating buyers’ and sellers’ markets respectively. That said, the balanced range can vary among local markets.

Considering the degree and duration that the current market balance is above or below its long-term average is a more sophisticated way of gauging whether local housing market conditions favour buyers or sellers. Market balance measures that are within one standard deviation of the long-term average are generally consistent with balanced market conditions. Based on a comparison of the sales-to-new listings ratio with its long-term average, more than two-thirds of all local markets were in balanced-market territory in December 2017.

The number of months of inventory is another important measure of the balance between housing supply and demand. It represents how long it would take to liquidate current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.

There were 4.5 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of December 2017. The measure has been moving steadily lower in tandem with the monthly rise in sales that began last summer.

The number of months of inventory in the Greater Golden Horseshoe region (2.1 months) was up sharply from the all-time low reached in March 2017 (0.9 months). Even so, the December reading stood a full month below the regions’ long-term average (3.1 months) and reached a seven-month low.

Price Pressures Eased

The Aggregate Composite MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) rose by 9.1% year-over-year (y-o-y) in December 2017 marking a further deceleration in y-o-y gains that began in the spring of last year and the smallest increase since February 2016. The slowdown in price gains mainly reflects softening price trends in the Greater Golden Horseshoe housing markets tracked by the index, particularly for single-family homes. On an aggregate basis, only single-family price increases slowed on a y-o-y basis. By comparison, y-o-y price gains picked up for townhouse/row and apartment units.
Apartment units again posted the most substantial y-o-y price gains in December (+20.5%), followed by townhouse/row units (+13%), one-storey single family homes (+5.5%), and two-storey single family homes (+4.5%).

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.

15 Jan

Is it time to lock in a variable rate mortgage?

General

Posted by: Shahin Golestani

Is it time to lock in a variable rate mortgage?

Approximately 32 per cent of Canadians are in a variable rate mortgage, which with rates effectively declining steadily for the better part of the last ten years has worked well.

Recent increases triggers questions and concerns, and these questions and concerns are best expressed verbally with a direct call to your independent mortgage expert – not directly with the lender. There are nuances you may not think to consider before you lock in, and that almost certainly will not be primary topics for your lender.

Over the last several years there have been headlines warning us of impending doom with both house price implosion, and interest rate explosion, very little of which has come to fruition other than in a very few localised spots and for short periods of time thus far.

Before accepting what a lender may offer as a lock in rate, especially if you are considering freeing up cash for such things as renovations, travel or putting towards your children’s education, it is best to have your mortgage agent review all your options.

And even if you simply wanted to lock in the existing balance, again the conversation is crucial to have with the right person, as one of the key topics should be prepayment penalties.

In many fixed rate mortgage, the penalty can be quite substantial even when you aren’t very far into your mortgage term. People often assume the penalty for breaking a mortgage amounts to three months’ interest payments, which in the case of 90% of variable rate mortgages is correct. However, in a fixed rate mortgage, the penalty is the greater of three months’ interest or the interest rate differential (IRD).

The ‘IRD’ calculation is a byzantine formula. One designed by people working specifically in the best interests of shareholders, not the best interests of the client (you). The difference in penalties from a variable to a fixed rate product can be as much as a 900 per cent increase.

The massive penalties are designed for banks to recuperate any losses incurred by clients (you) breaking and renegotiating the mortgage at a lower rate. And so locking into a fixed rate product without careful planning can mean significant downside.

Keep in mind that penalties vary from lender to lender and there are different penalties for different types of mortgages. In addition, things like opting for a “cash back” mortgage can influence penalties even more to the negative, with a claw-back of that cash received way back when.

Another consideration is that certain lenders, and thus certain clients, have ‘fixed payment’ variable rate mortgages. Which means that the payment may at this point be artificially low, and locking into a fixed rate may trigger a more significant increase in the payment than expected.

There is no generally ‘correct’ answer to the question of locking in, the type of variable rate mortgage you hold and the potential changes coming up in your life are all important considerations. There is only a ‘specific-to-you’ answer, and even then – it is a decision made with the best information at hand at the time that it is made. Having a detailed conversation with the right people is crucial.

It should also be said that a poll of 33 economists just before the recent Bank of Canada rate increase had 27 advising against another increase. This would suggest that things may have moved too fast too soon as it is, and we may see another period of zero movement. The last time the Bank of Canada pushed the rate to the current level it sat at this level for nearly five full years.

Life is variable, perhaps your mortgage should be too.

As always, if you have questions about locking in your variable mortgage, or breaking your mortgage to secure a lower rate, or any general mortgage questions. contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist.

 

Article by Dustan Woodhouse

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