Monday, February 8, 2010

January Housing Starts

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts reached 186,300 units in January 2010. This is an increase from an annual rate of 176,100 units in December 2009, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). According to final figures, actual housing starts for 2009 totalled 149,081 units, with activity improving as the year progressed.
“Housing starts improved in both the singles and multiples segments in January,” said Bob Dugan, Chief Economist at CMHC’s Market Analysis Centre. “These increases are similar to the ones that occurred in December.”
The seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased by 4.4 per cent to 165,200 units in January. Urban multiple starts increased by 5.7 per cent to 76,300 units while single urban starts increased by 3.3 per cent to 88,900 units.
January’s seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased by 19.8 per cent in British Columbia, by 7.3 per cent in Quebec, by 2.3 per cent in Atlantic Canada, and by 1.5 per cent in the Ontario. In the Prairie region, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts decreased by 4.8 per cent.
Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 21,100 units in January
CMHC OTTAWA, February 8, 2010

Resale housing forecast extended to 2011

The Canadian Real Estate Association has revised its forecast for home sales via the MLS® Systems of Canadian real estate boards in 2010, and extended the forecast to 2011.
With Canadian economic growth rebounding from the recession, the unusually severe decline in sales activity in early 2009 is not expected to recur in 2010. Annual activity in 2010 is forecast to be well above the previous year’s level as a result.
CREA forecasts national activity will reach 527,300 units in 2010, up 13.3 per cent from 2009. This would represent a new annual record, standing 1.2 per cent above the previous peak in 2007. Low interest rates are expected to boost housing demand in the first half of the year, resulting in strong annual sales growth in nearly all provinces in 2010, led by British Columbia and Ontario.
National home sales activity is expected to remain strong in the first half of 2010, fuelled by low interest rates and homebuyers motivated to avoid the HST before it comes into effect in Ontario and British Columbia. Over the second half of the year, national activity is expected to trend downward as the last of pent-up demand is exhausted, interest rates begin rising, and the HST comes into effect in Ontario and British Columbia.
Interest rate increases will contribute to weaker national sales activity in 2011. National home sales activity is forecast to decline 7.1 per cent to 490,100 units in 2011, putting it on par with annual levels reported in 2005 and 2006.
“Although interest rates are expected to rise, they will still be low enough to keep affordability within reach for many homebuyers requiring mortgage financing, and support overall housing demand,” said CREA President Dale Ripplinger.
The national average home price is forecast to climb 5.4 per cent in 2010, reaching a record $337,500, with average price gains forecast in all provinces. The national average price increase will continue to reflect upward skewing from the rebound in activity among Canada’s priciest markets, particularly in British Columbia and Ontario.
The national average price is forecast to ease by 1.5 per cent in 2011. Modest average price gains are forecast for all provinces except British Columbia and Ontario, whose share of national activity is expected to ease. The shift in the contribution made by provinces toward national activity will continue skewing the annual comparison in the national average price in 2011.
The price trend is similar but less dramatic for the weighted national average price, which compensates for changes in provincial sales activity by taking into account provincial proportions of privately owned housing stock. The weighted national average price is forecast to climb 4.8 per cent in 2010, and remain stable in 2011.
“Improved financial market stability and recovering global economic growth mean that home sales activity in 2010 is unlikely to repeat the dive it experienced in late 2008 and early 2009,” said Chief Economist Gregory Klump.
“Fiscal restraint, a strong Canadian dollar and a subdued inflation outlook point to marginal interest rate increases over the next couple of years, especially if the U.S. economic recovery proves to be weak and protracted,” said Klump.
“The Bank of Canada will need time to gauge the effect of interest rate increases on Canadian economic growth,” Klump said. “It recognizes that consumer debt burdens are running high, so it will want to gauge the impact of interest rate hikes on domestic demand and overall economic growth. Changes in interest rates impact the economy with a lag, so the timing and magnitude of interest rate hikes will be tricky, given that the Bank expects the private sector to lead economic growth once temporary government stimulus spending expires,” he added.
“The decline and subsequent rebound in sales activity for homes in the upper price spectrum in some of Canada’s priciest markets skewed average prices upward in the second half of 2009 and into 2010. This segment of housing activity in Ontario and British Columbia is expected to ease beginning in the second half of 2010, causing average prices to moderate in those provinces,” said Klump.
“A downward trend in national sales activity combined with an increase in listings will result in a more balanced market. Although builders are understandably more upbeat than they were during the depth of the recession, speculative building will likely continue to be held in check. As a result, while the real estate market will become more balanced, Canada will continue to avoid the massive realignment in housing supply and demand experienced in the U.S.”
“Copyright Canadian Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission.”

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Six Tips to Pay Down Your Mortgage Faster

With interest rates at an all-time low, many Canadians are taking advantage of the savings by refinancing their mortgages to invest in real estate or buy a recreational property, or simply moving up the property ladder.
Following are ways to take even further advantage of this excellent rate environment by paying down your mortgage
Tip #1
Prepay early in the mortgage
Make extra payments as early as you can after getting a mortgage because the loans are interest-heavy upfront and the faster you pay down your principal, the more interest savings you will accumulate over the long run. Within the first five to seven years of your mortgage is where the largest portions of interest payments are contained. This not only will save you thousands of dollars in interest payments, but it will also increase the speed at which you are accumulating equity in your property. Many mortgage products allow you to make up to 20% more in payments per year.
Tip #2
Make an annual lump sum payment
Whether you use your tax refund, receive an inheritance or get a Christmas bonus, you should apply as much as possible directly to your principal. Most lenders allow you to pay 20% in lump sum payments per year without penalty. Your mortgage professional or lender can help you determine exactly how much you can prepay and what maximum percentage of your principal you are allowed to pay without penalty each year.
Tip #3
If your payments go down, don’t lower the payment amount
If you are on a variable-rate mortgage and the rates go down your payment will also often go down. Instead of making the lower mortgage payments, however, it’s best to call your lender
and let them know that you would like to continue making payments for the original amount. Your mortgage professional or lender will let you know if there is a charge for making the extra payment. Even with the charge, in most cases, it is still worth it and will help you pay down your principal faster.
Tip #4
Round up your payments even if it’s just a little
If your monthly mortgage payment is $776.22 and you were to round up your payment an extra $23.78 a month to $800 – that’s less than a dollar a day – you would effectively reduce your mortgage amortization from 35 years to just over 32 years right away or from 25 years to just over 23 years.
TIP #5
Increase your payments with your pay increases
If your income increases, try not to keep your mortgage payments the same. Although the disposable income is a joy to spend on unnecessary luxuries in the short-term, the long-term benefits of being mortgage free faster and saving those interest payments will far outweigh the short-term joys. Pretend that your income did not increase and maintain the lifestyle that you are currently living.
Tip #6
Increase the frequency of your payments
You can also change the way you make your payments by opting for accelerated bi-weekly mortgage payments. Not to be confused with semi-monthly mortgage payments (24 payments per year), accelerated bi-weekly mortgage payments (26 payments per year) will not only pay your mortgage off quicker, but it’s guaranteed to save you a significant amount of money over the term of your mortgage. Basically, with accelerated bi-weekly mortgage payments, you’re making one additional monthly payment per year.


Residential units sales through the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®)in BC are forecast to increase 6 per cent to 90,100 units in 2010, before edging back 3 per cent to 87,500 units in 2011. MLS® residential unit sales sprinted from an annualized
rate of 50,000 units during the first quarter of 2009 to 112,000 units during the fourth quarter. However,waning pent-up demand and eroding affordability is expected to moderate the pace of home sales going forward, particularly on the South

While market performance in Victoria, Vancouver and the Fraser Valley markets were largely responsible for pulling the provincial aggregate significantly higher last year, MLS® residential sales are expected grow more rapidly outside these major markets in 2010, as the full impact of low mortgage rates, attractive home prices and improved consumer confidence are just now taking hold.

In 2011, BC residential sales will be constrained by higher home prices, especially on the South Coast, and rising mortgage interest rates. In addition, relatively sluggish economic and employment growth is not expected to propel household incomes high enough to offset the rising carrying cost of housing.

The average annual BC MLS® residential price is forecast to climb 5 per cent to $490,900 this year, and remain relatively unchanged in 2011, albeit up 1 per cent to
$494,800. Most of the increase will likely occur by the end of the first quarter this year. Home prices are expected to experience relatively less upward pressure as the year unfolds.

In Victoria, Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, moderating consumer demand (compared to Q4 2009) combined with a larger number of homes for sale is expected to level
market conditions from a sellers’ year. Housing markets in the rest of the province are expected to exhibit a relative balance between buyers and sellers through the next two years.

Housing forcats for Kooteany's

Unit Sales
2009 = 2,119
2010 forecast = 2,550 up 20%
2011 forecast = 2,600 up 2%

Average MLS Price

2009 = $274,118
2010 Forecast = $284,000 up 4%
2011 Forecast = $290,000 up 2%

“Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission.”

Budgeting to Become a Homeowner

From an interest rate standpoint, there has never been a better time to become a homeowner. But transitioning from renter to homeowner is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make throughout your lifetime. It can also be a stressful experience if you don’t plan ahead by building a budget and saving prior to embarking upon homeownership.
Budgeting is a core ingredient that helps alleviate the stress associated with money issues that can sometimes arise if you purchase a home without knowing all of the associated costs – including down payment, closing expenses, ongoing maintenance, taxes and utilities.
The trouble is, many first-time homeowners fail to carefully think about their finances, plan a budget or set savings aside. And in this society of instant gratification, money problems can quickly escalate.
The key is to create a realistic budget based on your goals. Track your spending and make your dollars go further by sticking to your budget once it’s in place. Budgeting offers a step-by-step formula for figuring out how to best save your hard-earned money to invest in homeownership.
Start by listing your household income, then your household expenses, and review your spending habits. All of this can be done on a pad of paper or on a computer spreadsheet.
Keeping receipts for everything that you purchase will enable you to accurately keep track of where your money is going each month so that you can review and make necessary changes to your plan on an ongoing basis.
Examine all areas of your life from entertainment to the type of food you buy, where you buy your food and clothes, and how and where you travel. Also look at your spending personality and make necessary adjustments. Are you a saver, a splurger, a spontaneous shopper or a hoarder? Become smarter with your money and avoid impulse buying.
If you find you’re spending a lot of money in one area, such as entertainment for instance, set aside a reasonable amount each month and prepare to stop spending money in this area once your budget has been exhausted.
Budgeting provides you with the opportunity to re-evaluate your needs and wants. Do you really need the magazine subscriptions, the gym membership and all the other things you may spend money on each month? Although everyone needs some “me time” to wind down, could you not get that by taking a walk or reading a good book you borrowed from the library?
If you can set your budget solidly in place before you head out home or mortgage shopping, you will be far more prepared to purchase your first home.
Following are three top tips to help you prepare for the purchase of your first home:
1. Set up a savings account. You can deposit a predetermined amount into this account each pay period that you will not touch unless it’s absolutely necessary. This will enable you to put money aside for a down payment and cover closing costs, as well as address ongoing homeownership expenses such as maintenance, taxes and utilities.
2. Save up for big-ticket items. As you accumulate money in your savings account, you will be able to also save for specific purchases to help furnish your home – avoiding the buy now, pay later mentality, which can have a negative impact on your credit when you’re seeking mortgage financing.
3. Surround yourself with a team of professionals. When you’re getting ready to make your first home purchase, enlist my services as a trusted real estate professional and find a licensed mortgage agent. Experts are invaluable to you as you set out on the road to homeownership because we help first-time buyers through the home purchase and financing processes every day. Experts can answer all of your questions and set your mind at ease. Mortgage agents, for instance, have access to multiple lenders, and can help you get pre-approved for a mortgage so you know exactly what you can afford to spend on a home before you head out house hunting, while I will be able to match your needs with a house you can afford. Both parties will negotiate on your behalf to ensure you get the best bang for your buck. And, best of all, these services are typically free. Experts will also be able to refer you to other reputable professionals you may need for your home purchase, including a real estate lawyer and home appraiser.
As always, if you have any questions about homeownership, your answers are just a phone call or e-mail away