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June-July 2013 Volume 03 Issue 04

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CONTENTS June-July 2013 Volume 03 Issue 04 FEATURED CONTENT pg 4-5

Canadians are Paying Off Mortgages Quickly

pg 6

Higher Bond Yields Trigger Hike In Mortgage Rates

pg 7

Housing Concern - Those Fearing Crash, In For “Pleasant Surprise�

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Why We Should Stop Worrying About Condo Market

pg 14

How Do Canadian & U.S. House Price Fundamentals Stack Up?

pg 20

Think-Tank to New BoC Governor - Start Raising Interest Rates

pg 22

Mixed Signals As Consumer Debt Edges Higher; Defaults Drop

pg 23

Why Raising Mortgage Rates Won’t Tank Housing Market

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Tan.gazine NEWS

Canadians are Paying Off Mortgages Quickly Is Ottawa’s Crack Down Neccessary? Garry Marr - Financial Post May 22, 2013

Canadians end up paying off their mortgages in about two-thirds of the time originally intended, according to a new survey which questions whether Ottawa’s crackdown on the real estate market is needed. The Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals predicts Toronto faces an especially big slowdown, with construction to drop off more than 50% A report by the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals released Wednesday paints us as a very conservative lot not in need of increased government regulation. The group notes of the mortgages paid off in 2010-2013, the original amortization length was on average 17.9 years but ended up with an actual amortization length of 11.7 years. Despite the fact Canadians pay off their mortgages quickly, the federal government has continually cracked down on amortization of insured mortgages it backs. The length of amortizations — a longer amortization lowers monthly payments and allows consumers to qualify for larger mortgages at the expense of paying more interest — has been dropped from a high of 40 years to the present 25 years. Consumers may have gotten the message. Amortization lengths have shrunk since Ottawa started dropping the maximum length. From 2005-2009, mortgages paid off during the period had an average original amortization lengths of 19.9 years compared with an average actual amortization length of 12.8 years. Now CAAMP is arguing that changes to government rules have actually gone too far and have resulted in a 15% decline in new home construction this year from highs reached in 2011 with a further 25% to 30% predicted by 2015, which would cost

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150,000 jobs. “We need a balance, we are moving out of balance and that’s what these numbers are showing,” said Jim Murphy, chief executive of CAAMP. “We’re now in situation where we have had eight or nine months of data. A lot of officials felt the market would come back better than it has.” “[Ottawa] is making an argument they want the market to slow but we are seeing significant slowing on resale and the new side although not yet on prices,” said Mr. Murphy. CAAMP is calling for the government to ease the rules for first time home buyers. Under the group’s plan, first-time buyers would get to amortize over 30 years as long as they could actually qualify for 25 years. “We are concerned about the effect of all of this on first-time home buyers,” said Mr. Murphy, adding his group would like to see an increase in the tax credit for new homeowners and an increase in how much can be taken out of an RRSP to purchase an initial home. “It’s not just one thing, all the changes have been cumulative.” Ben Rabidoux, a Canadian analyst for California-based Hanson Advisors, a market research firm whose clients are institutional investors, said the government still has to be concerned because of the record household debt. “You have record debt at a time of record low rates so there is no question it sets you up for a shock,” said Mr. Rabidoux, who doesn’t disagree with CAAMP that the new rules have cost jobs. “I still think they are right to tap on brakes. There will be bleed out on the economy. You either bleed it out now and go through a weak period of economic growth or keep going until there is a crisis.” Will Dunning, chief economist for CAAMP, acknowledged there may be other factors at play in


Tan.gazine NEWS Consumers may have gotten the message. Amortization lengths have shrunk since Ottawa started dropping the maximum length. From 2005-2009, mortgages paid off during the period had an average original amortization lengths of 19.9 years compared with an average actual amortization length of 12.8 years.

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prices over the next 12 months. Potential buyers are being wooed in some markets like Vancouver by the drop in prices but the bank says its survey shows a modest increase would not dissuade many. Nationally, intentions to buy would only drop four percentage points if prices rise 5%. The survey was based on online interviews of 1008 Canadians 18 years and over, and conducted between Feb. 17-21. It is considered accurate within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

REAL

our lowered amortization lengths. “What we have been hearing is a lot of people took longer amortizations even though they could have qualified for 30 years because they wanted a better cash flow situation. But as they get a chance, they pay [the mortgage] off more quickly.” Even first-time buyers plan to dig deep to pay off their mortgages early. Mr. Dunning said from 2010-2012, first-time buyers who took an extended amortization had a contract with an average amortization of 31.7 years but plan to pay it off in 25.1 years. The study is based on data compiled by Maritz Research Canada of 2,000 Canadian consumers in April 2013. That survey came on the same day as a Bank of Montreal report that suggested 48% of Canadians intend to buy a property in the next five years, almost unchanged from 2012 and a sign of the resiliency of the market, according to the bank. “The relative strength of the Canadian housing market continues to bolster homeowners’ confidence, while improving affordability across all regions reflects that Canadians are making responsible choices when it comes to financing a home,” said Martin Nel, vice-president of lending and investments at Bank of Montreal. Fixed mortgage rates have a lot to do with affordability. Even with the banks abandoning their public advertising of a five-year rates below 3%, mortgage brokers are still offering deals as low as 2.7% for that term and banks are advertising four-year terms for rates as low as 2.99%. The CAAMP survey found 85% of purchasers in 2012-2013 opted for a fixed rate product. Homeowners also seem to be pricing in moderate expectations for where they think the market is going. The BMO survey found on average, homeowners expect a 2.2% increase in

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Tan.gazine NEWS

Higher Bond Yields

Trigger Hike In Mortgage Rates Several of Canada’s big banks inch up their mortgage rates, which experts say is likely the start of a slow upward trend. The recent increase in mortgage rates by several of Canada’s big banks is likely the start of a slow upward trend, experts say. Scotiabank, the Royal Bank of Canada, and TD Canada Trust raised rates this week on some mortgages for terms ranging from 2 to 10 years. On Friday, the Bank of Montreal said it is hiking the rate for its three-year mortgage by 0.1 of a percentage point to 3.75 per cent. Its new five-year rate is 3.39 percent, an increase of 0.2 of a point. The new rates take effect on Saturday. The increases are small--- just one-tenth of three-tenths of a percentage point --- but economists and industry experts say these may be definitive signs of rates returning to historically normal levels. “When something is on sale, whether it is pastrami or mortgages, you buy it. But the fact is you must be prepared for prices to go back to normal,” said Michael Gregory, senior economist at the Bank of Montreal’s BMO Capital Markets. “Keep in mind that when you refinance a loan, whether it’s a car loan or a mortgage, you may be paying higher interest rates than you are now. Be prepared for normal.” Federal Reserve Board chairman Ben Bernanke said Wednesday that the U.S. central bank will begin slowing the pace of its bond-buying stimulus program, now worth about $85 billion (U.S.) per month, later this year because the economy is gaining momentum. As a result of his remarks, stock markets turned sharply lower on Thursday, and yields on government bonds surged. “The Fed knew that the moment they started

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Madhavi Acharva-Tom Yew - Toronto Star

June 21, 2013

to talk more openly and clearly about stopping their purchases, the market was going to puke. That’s a technical term,” Gregory said. The yield on Government of Canada fiveyear bonds, the benchmark for five-year mortgage rates, was 1.7 per cent on Friday. On May 2, the yield stood at 1.15 per cent, according to data on the Bank of Canada website. “Yields have gone up 50 per cent. It’s been a huge jump,” said Kelvin Mangaroo, founder of RateSupermarket.ca At Scotiabank, the rate on a two-year mortgage with a closed fixed term is 2.79 per cent, effective Saturday. That’s an increase of 0.1 per cent. RBC’s five-year is going up by 0.2 of a percentage point to 3.39 per cent on Monday. Mortgage brokers in Ontario are still offering rates as low as 2.88 per cent on mortgages with five-year terms, Mangaroo said. “We have seen a lot of movement in the past month or so. Even though rates are going up, they’re still attractive compared to historical levels,” he said. Bernanke also said that even after the quantitative easing program stops in mid-2014, interest rates are likely to change until 2015. Most economists believe the Bank of Canada will not increase its benchmark overnight rate until 2014. “There’s a general sense that the era of low yields is over,” Gregory said. “I believe we’re in an upward trend in yield. Will we get an increase of 30 basis points every two days? No,” he said. “These things move in fits and starts. Our sentiment is we will get a grinding gain, two steps forward and one step back.”


Tan.gazine NEWS

Housing a Concern

Michael Babad - The Globe and Mail

May 01, 2013

Those Fearing Crash, In For ‘Pleasant Surprise” “We expect a GDP negative contraction in housing but not a collapse as interest rates are expected to remain low and immigration trends supportive,” currency strategists Camilla Sutton and Eric Theoret said. “This should prove a pleasant surprise compared to what some have feared.” Canada’s housing market has been cooling since last summer, after a fourth round of mortgage restrictions from Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. Sales have plunged, but prices have generally held up. The provinces most affected are British Columbia and Ontario, home to Vancouver and Toronto, the two cities of concern, as well as Quebec. Last year, Scotiabank economists said in a separate forecast, the construction and real estate brokerage sectors helped pump up those provincial economists. Not so for 2013. “This year, the housing sector is expected to dampen output and employment growth,” they said. “Increased manufacturing production should pick up some of the slack, centred in aerospace in Quebec, wood products in British Columbia and, to a lesser extent, motor vehicles in Ontario.” Scotiabank projects housing starts of 175,000 this year and 170,000 in 2014, down from the 200,000 or more of the past two years, which many observers have said were unsustainable levels given household formation. By most accounts, Mr. Flaherty and Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney, who had gone so far as to warn of a possible interest rate hike if borrowers did not get their act in gear, appear to have succeeded in engineering a soft landing in the housing market. The crucial measure of household debt to disposable income remains high, but is expected to stabilize around its record level of 165 per cent, according to the Bank of Canada. And borrowing has slowed noticeable. According to the latest reading by Royal Bank of Canada, household credit climbed in March by 4.4 per

cent from a year earlier. That’s the same pace as a month earlier and well below the 5.6-per-cent rate of a year earlier. Looking at the first quarter as a whole, said RBC economist David Onyett-Jeffries, growth in mortgage debt was the slowest, on a year-over-year basis, since late 2001. Non-mortgage debt rose at the slowest pace since late 1993.

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Tan.gazine NEWS

How Long Do Canadian’s House Hunt? Poll Finds, Five Months On Average Bertrand Marotte - The Globe and Mail

May 03, 2013

Canadian home buyers spend an average of five months house-hunting and visit 10 locations before deciding to buy but – post-purchase – they’re more worried about discovering something wrong than about a price-drop, says a new survey. The poll, done for the Bank of Montreal and released Thursday, found that the biggest worry on homebuyers’ minds once they have completed the purchase is finding problems with the house – 71 per cent – while 55 per cent said they were concerned about a drop in prices. One-third – 33 per cent – of those interviewed said they felt rushed into making a purchase; for first-time buyers, that rises to 39 per cent. Four-fifths of prospective buyers said they know if a home is right for them as soon as they step inside, according to the poll results. On the other hand, 68 per cent of interested buyers are prepared to settle for a home that’s less than ‘perfect,’ says the survey. In terms of motivating factors, 44 per cent of current homeowners in the poll said they view a home purchase as a good investment, while 37 per cent said they felt the timing to get into the market was right. Another 23 per cent said they bought a house because they wanted to move to a new neighbourhood, and 18 per cent said a growing family prompted them to buy.

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“It’s important to take a practical approach when house hunting and have a clear idea of where you stand financially to ensure you make a responsible home buying decision,” BMO Bank of Montreal mortgage expert Laura Parsons said in a news release. “Doing research ahead of time and setting realistic expectations can help you avoid making an uninformed or rushed purchase.” One-quarter of those polled – 25 per cent – said buying a home is stressful, while 21 per cent said it makes them feel anxious. First-time buyers are likelier to be stressed than the average home buyer: 30 per cent versus 25 per cent. But the strongest emotions expressed were excitement (48 per cent), cautiousness (41 per cent) and optimism (31 per cent). The survey was conducted by Pollara, based on interviews with a random sample of 2,000 adult Canadians; it took place between Feb. 25 and March 5, 2013. A probability sample of this size would yield results accurate to plus or minus 2.2 per cent, 19 times out of 20.


Tan.gazine NEWS

Dear Customer, :KHWKHU\RXDUHDͤUVWWLPHEX\HURUDVHDVRQHGKRPHRZQHUDUUDQJLQJDPRUWJDJHFDQ EHDYHU\FRQIXVLQJDQGGDXQWLQJWDVN:LWKRYHU\HDUVH[SHULHQFHLQWKHͤQDQFLDO LQGXVWU\,WDNHJUHDWSULGHLQSURYLGLQJSURIHVVLRQDOͤQDQFLDODGYLFHDQGH[FHSWLRQDO customer service. My role as a Mobile Mortgage Specialist with TD Canada Trust is to work exclusively with mortgage customers...whether you are purchasing, looking to transfer a mortgage RUUHͤQDQFHDQH[LVWLQJPRUWJDJHWRFRQVROLGDWHGHEW$VDORQJWHUPUHVLGHQWRIWKH Mississauga area, I have a true understanding of its resident’s needs. Each individual ZLOOKDYHDXQLTXHVHWRIQHHGVDQGZDQWVDQGWKHHDVLHVWZD\WRͤQGWKHULJKW PRUWJDJHIRU\RXLVWRHQJDJHWKHDVVLVWDQFHRIDTXDOLͤHG0RUWJDJH6SHFLDOLVW 1RPDWWHUZKDWW\SHRIPRUWJDJHͤQDQFLQJ\RXDUHORRNLQJIRULWPDNHVVHQVHWRVSHDN WRPHͤUVW,DPDYDLODEOHRXWVLGHRIQRUPDOEDQNLQJKRXUVZHHNHQGVDQGHYHQLQJVWR suit your schedule. I welcome calls from the English and Tagalog speaking community. Sincerely, Raymond Daez

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Tan.gazine NEWS

Why We Should Stop Worrying About The Condo Market Tara Perkins - The Globe and Mail May 15, 2013

The central bank might want to reconsider the frequency of its drastic warnings. If the Bank of Canada were a character from “Winnie the Pooh,” there’s no doubt it would be Eeyore, the gloomy, thistle-munching donkey. It means terribly well and feels terribly responsible for our collective well-being, but it just can’t seem to stop throwing shade on the domestic housing market. There’s a tradition of central bankers “jawboning” markets and trying to precipitate change through rhetoric. But the latest analysis from the Bank of Canada — a fretful forecast about the economic consequences of the overbuilt condo market (especially in Toronto) — is more like “Chicken be littling.” If the Bank is really so worried about fragile consumer confidence, maybe it needs to stop with the kvetching all the time. Truth is, people just start to tune that stuff out after a while. For those of us who have lived through a couple of condo crashes already, it’s not surprising in the least that a) they’ve been overbuilt yet again and b) there’s anxious discussion about the impact that another condo crash will have on the overall economy. "Any correction in condominium prices could spread to other segments of the housing market as buyers and sellers adjust their expectations," a recent Bank report stated. "Such a correction would reduce household net worth, confidence and consumption spending, with negative spill overs to income and employment." Well, yes, that’s true. But it’s also true of any number of other potential shocks to the economy as well. Maybe you can’t leave everything to free market forces, but when you’ve implemented some strong policy measures — something that’s already been done in Canada’s real estate sector — you have to let 10 | penghocktan.com

go. Taking our economic temperature every few hours and pronouncing morbidly about our ill health isn’t exactly going to boost the consumer confidence that the Bank is perpetually fretting about. If the large number of unsold units now under construction or in the pre-construction phase aren’t sold in the next 12 to 30 months, warns the Bank, it could cause house prices to fall, crushing residential construction and affecting jobs, incomes and — ultimately — the quality of bank loan portfolios. To be fair, one heck of a lot can happen over 30 months — which is two-and-a-half years for goodness’ sake. And the condo market does tend to march to its own drummer. As for the threat of widespread economic contagion, the household debt picture has improved in Canada as the pace of debt accumulation has become better aligned with disposable income and no near-term likelihood of a rise in interest rates. Another point to consider: about 25 per cent of the current condo inventory is held by domestic investors, for rental or tax purposes. A big chunk of the rest of the market is dominated by foreign investors who typically purchase such properties as a long-term hold, a strategy that contributes to condo market stability. There’s evidence of stability elsewhere as well. Economic growth picked up a bit in the first quarter of this year, employment numbers were unexpectedly strong in May, and housing prices also rose by two per cent in that month. For housing prices, this is the smallest year-over-year increase since November 2009, which suggests that tighter lending rules and other cooling measures are working. According to a recent Reuter’s poll of 21 forecasters, house prices will gradually ease off by about five per cent over the next few years instead of


Tan.gazine NEWS

either crashing or burning. Given that housing prices rose 88 per cent in the past decade (according to the Teranet-National Bank Housing Index); some orderly easing of house prices is a healthy — and deliberate — thing. It’s exactly what recent policy moves have intended. As it stands, of Canada’s 14 key residential real estate markets, Vancouver is the only one where weak sales activity is pulling down average prices and therefore shifting into a buyers’ market. The Bank of Canada has certainly been instrumental in encouraging the federal government to tighten mortgage lending rules four times in the last five years. As well, there’s been a gradual shortening of the maximum length for an insured mortgage from 40 years to 25 and limits have been

implemented on how much people can borrow against their homes. For those reasons alone — all well known to the Bank — the dire clamouring seems a trifle excessive. It’s also worth noting that if interest rates creep back up next year, the combination of growing incomes and slowing home price growth should preserve affordability in most markets. The Bank of Canada has a responsibility to flag emerging economic issues but it might also want to remember to be strategically judicious about the number of times it rings the warning bell. When you live in a thistle patch, you’re forgiven for believing that a steady diet of thistles is the norm. But it isn’t.

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How Do Canadian & U.S.

House Price Fundamentals Stack Up? Canadians are obsessed with whether or not our housing market is going to suffer a “U.S.-style” correction. It’s by now widely accepted that corrections are happening in key Canadian cities. Sure, there are still pockets of strength – Calgary and the detached market in Toronto, for example – but most markets are seeing rising inventory and falling sales, which typically foretell price weakness. I don’t believe that what happened in the U.S. is going to happen in Canada. The U.S. housing crash was the greatest destruction of wealth in human history. House prices dropped 35 per cent nationally from peak to trough, inflicting a crippling and long-lasting blow on their economy and labour market. But that doesn’t mean we have nothing to worry about. As I’ve argued before, there are a lot of very negative outcomes between “painless soft landing” and “U.S.-style collapse.” And given that the Canadian economy and labour market are significantly more reliant on housing-related industries than the U.S. ever was, even at market peak, I am extremely skeptical that policy makers can easily orchestrate a soft landing without significant collateral damage. Here are three ways Canada compares to the U.S. in terms of some important house price fundamentals, and why there may be cause for concern: 1) Average resale price Admittedly, the average is not a perfect measure of house prices due to it being easily moved by outliers. For example, people will point out that Vancouver’s crazy-high house prices artificially distort the Canadian average. But this same dynamic is also at work in the U.S., where states like California push the average price higher. For reference, California accounts for 12

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Ben Rabidoux - Special to The Globe and Mail

April 24, 2013

per cent of the U.S. population, while British Columbia accounts for 13 per cent of Canadian population. Call this a wash Note that average resale prices in Canada and the U.S. have always tended to track each other closely, which one would expect given similar income and per-capita GDP figures and comparable borrowing costs. Today, however, we find that Canadian house prices command a 55 per cent premium to U.S. prices. 2) Real house prices I’ve previously written about real (inflation-adjusted) house prices in Canada. The idea here is that over time, house prices tend to pace inflation, with perhaps a slight upward bias. Record-high real house prices were one of the warning signs economist Robert Shiller pointed to when he presciently warned of a U.S. housing crash. Real house prices in Canada are at record highs, while the U.S. is back to what might be considered a fundamental level. 3) House prices relative to per-capita GDP There was an interesting article published in the May/June 2011 edition of the Financial Analyst Journal titled “The margin of safety and turning points in house prices.” In it, the authors studied house prices in developed countries and found:

“These data, when detrended, reveal long-term meanreverting relationships between house prices and other macroeconomic variables – in particular, GDP per capita. ... Hence, when prices deviate from the mean, the question is not if they will revert but when.”


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Tan.gazine NEWS Greater Toronto REALTORS® Report June 2013 Mid-Month Resale Market Figures June 18, 2013 -- Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 4,620 sales through the TorontoMLS system during the first two weeks of June 2013. This result was up by 4.7 per cent compared to the first two weeks of June 2012. Year-over-year sales growth was driven by the regions/counties surrounding the City of Toronto. Home sales in the City were basically flat in comparison to last year. “The expectation was for an improvement in home sales in the second half of 2013. Early June results are in line with this outlook. Many households have adapted to stricter lending guidelines and have renewed their search for ownership housing,” said Toronto Real Estate Board President Ann Hannah. “It is also important to note that new listings were down over the same period. With sales up and new listings down, market conditions became tighter. This supports the moderate to strong rates of price growth reported for most major home types, including condominium apartments,” added Ms. Hannah. The average selling price for the first fourteen days of June was $536,141 – up by 3.8 per cent compared to June 2012. “While price growth has been driven by low-rise home types this year, condominium apartment price growth has improved since March. Despite higher inventory levels, there have been enough buyers relative to available listings to support condo price appreciation,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Senior Manager of Market Analysis.

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Tan.gazine NEWS Low-Rise Market Conditions Remain Tight in June In June, the median price was $531,374 from the $507,342 recorded during June of 2012 Toronto, July 04, 2013

Greater Toronto Area REALTORSÂŽ reported 9,061 sales through the TorontoMLS system in June 2013 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; down by less than one per cent compared to June 2012. Over the same period, new listings were down by a greater rate than sales, suggesting market conditions became tighter. "The sales picture in the GTA improved markedly in the second quarter of 2013. While the number of transactions was still down compared to 2012, rates of decline were substantially improved compared to the first quarter," said Toronto Real Estate Board President Dianne Usher. "As a growing number of homebuyers, many of whom put their purchase on hold due to stricter lending guidelines, now reactivate their search, the expectation is for renewed growth in home sales in the second half of 2013," added Ms. Usher.

The average selling price in June was up by 4.7 per cent year-over-year to $531,374. In line with the 2013 norm, June price growth was driven by the single-detached and semi-detached market segments, particularly in the City of Toronto. Over the same time period, average condominium apartment selling prices remained in line with 2012 levels. "The short supply of low-rise home types in many parts of the GTA relative to the number of households looking to buy continued to prompt strong upward pressure on selling prices of singles and semis," said Jason Mercer, TREB's Senior Manager of Market Analysis. "We have also seen enough buyers in the better-supplied condo apartment market to provide support for selling prices at current levels."

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Tan.gazine NEWS Greater Toronto REALTORS® Report April 2013 Mid-Month Resale Market Figures May 16, 2013 -- Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 4,476 transactions through the TorontoMLS system during the first 14 days of May. This result represented a decline of 9.7 per cent compared to the same period in 2012. Sales declines were larger for the City of Toronto, at 11.4 per cent, versus the surrounding regions where sales were down by 8.6 per cent year-over-year. “Despite fewer sales this year compared to last, competition between buyers in most segments of the market remained strong enough to promote annual rates of price growth above the rate of inflation. A household earning the average income in the GTA can comfortably afford the mortgage payments associated with the purchase of an average priced home,” said Toronto Real Estate Board President Ann Hannah. The average selling price during the first two weeks of May was $543,838 – up by 5.4 per cent in comparison to the same time frame last year. Price growth was strongest for low-rise home types, but positive price growth for condo apartments in the City of Toronto was also reported. “Continuing the prevailing trend over the last year, the low-rise segment of the market drove overall price growth during the first half of May, as months of inventory remained Resale Market Figures belowJuly historic 2013 norms forMonthly key home types,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Senior Manager of Market Analysis.

Greater Toronto REALTORS® Report

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Tan.gazine NEWS Price Growth Continues in February In February, the median price was $510,580 from the $500,249 recorded during February of 2012 Toronto, March 05, 2012

Greater Toronto Area (GTA) REALTORS® Toronto’s additional upfront land transfer tax reported 5,759 sales through the TorontoMLS arguably played a role in the slower pace of luxury system in February 2013 – a decline of 15 per cent detached home sales,” added Ms. Hannah. in comparison to February 2012. It should be noted The MLS® HPI Composite Benchmark that 2012 was a leap year with one extra day in price covering all major home types eliminates February. A 28 day year-over-year sales comparison fluctuations in price growth due to changes in sales resulted in a lesser decline of 10.5 per cent. mix. The Composite Benchmark price was up by The average selling price for February 2013 more than three per cent on a year-over-year basis in was $510,580 – up two per cent in comparison February. to February 2012. “We will undoubtedly experience some “The share of sales and dollar volume volatility in price growth for some market segments accounted for by luxury detached homes in the City in 2013. However, months of inventory in the of Toronto was lower this February compared to low-rise market segment will remain low, resulting in last. This contributed to a more modest pace of average price growth above three per cent for the overall average price growth for the GTA as a TREB market area this year. whole,” said Toronto Real Estate (TREB) current average price forecast is JulyBoard 2013 Mid-MonthOur Resale Market Figures President Ann Hannah. $515,000 for all home types combined in 2013,” said “Stricter mortgage lending guidelines that Jason Mercer, TREB’s Senior Manager of Market precluded government backed mortgages on homes Analysis. sold for over one million dollars and the City of

Greater Toronto REALTORS® Report

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Tan.gazine NEWS

Think-Tank to New BoC Governor

Start Raising Interest Rates Slashing interest rates and printing wads of money may have saved the global economy from catastrophe, but taking back all the monetary candy opens the world to new risks, the Bank of Canada warns in a research paper. The paper, written by economists Eric Santor and Lena Suchanek as part of the institution's quarterly Bank of Canada Review, says efforts to stimulate the economy through the 2008-09 recession appear to have worked but risk remains. "Exiting too soon could undermine the recovery, while too slow an exit could lead to excess liquidity and contribute to inflationary pressures," they write. The economists also make clear the successes so far have not come without costs -- mostly punishing savers by pushing down interest rates and yields on safe investments, such as government bonds. The paper appears more directed at central bank policies in hard-hit economies such as Europe, Japan and the U.S., which radically increased the money supply through a policy known as quantitative easing. The Bank of Canada never took that step, but did slash interest rates to close to zero in 2009 and still retains a super-low overnight rate of one per cent. In a report issued Wednesday by the C.D. Howe Institute, former Bank of Canada special adviser Paul

Julian Beltrame, The Canadian Press May 15, 2013

Masson argued that it was time for Canada's central bank to start hiking interest rates. He cited some of the same risks to keeping rates low for long periods as the new Bank of Canada paper -- creation of asset bubbles, as households take advantage of easy money conditions to purchase homes. As well, market distortions and risks as low yields hammer pension funds and insurance companies, which might be driven to riskier ventures to meet their longer-term liabilities. The Bank of Canada economists, however, do not offer an opinion on when to begin pulling back the stimulus, but agree that almost five years of super-low interest rates have come at a cost. Removing stimulus poses new risks, the economists add, including that central banks themselves could suffer losses from the risky assets they acquired. A bigger problem may arise if all the money central banks have poured into the system comes back to haunt them by spiking inflationary pressures. Still the authors say the central bank experiment with monetary easing was worth the potential price. "On balance, research to date suggests these measures were, and remain, effective. Without them, economic outcomes would have been much worse," they say.

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Mixed Signals As Consumer

Bertrand Marotte - The Globe and Mail

Debt Edges Higher; Defaults Drop: Equifax

April 24, 2013

Canadians bumped up their debt levels slightly in the first quarter of the year, but there are positive signs of fewer delinquencies, a new study shows.

low interest rate environment and improved employment rates,” said Nadim Abdo, vice-president of client solutions at Equifax Canada.

The rate of delinquencies for three months or more has fallen by 13.4 per cent from the same time period last year to a moderate 1.2 per cent, a record low, according to the report by credit-monitoring firm Equifax Canada.

But Equifax warns that rising bankruptcy filings reflect “the growing financial strains on Canadian families, particularly in Montreal and Halifax.”

“Late-stage delinquency rates continue to show improvement, especially in the energy-rich economies of Edmonton and Calgary as well as in Vancouver and Ottawa,” Cristian deRitis, senior director of consumer credit economics at Moody’s Analytics, said in a news release Wednesday. The 1.2 per cent rate of unpaid debt in 90-day-plus delinquency, which excludes mortgage debt, is significantly lower than the 1.39 per cent posted in the first quarter of 2012, the agency said.

First-quarter consumer credit conditions were “mixed with outstanding balances rising and late-stage delinquency rates falling relative to a year ago,” said Mr. deRitis. Outstanding household debt and available credit rose in the first quarter by 3.9 per cent and 4.4 per cent, respectively, on a year-ago basis, a break in the trend in decelerating growth that began in 2011, says the report. Total non-mortgage debt in the first quarter was $500.8-billion, up from $497-billion in the year-earlier period.

“This represents very positive financial control by consumers and lending institutions given the sustained

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Tan.gazine NEWS Why Raising Mortgage Rates Wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t Tank The Housing Market Larry MacDonald - Canadian Business News

June 13, 2013

(DUOLHUODVWZHHNVRPH&DQDGLDQEDQNVKLNHGWKHͤ[HGUDWHRQWKHLUͤYH\HDU mortgage term by 20 basis points to 3.29%. Not surprisingly, housing bears are proclaiming that mortgage rates are now in an uptrend that will collapse the housing market. While we may be headed into an era of heightened volatility, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m still not convinced the bell is tolling. Here are some reasons why.

1. Fixed-mortgage rates ticked up this week because they are priced off bond yields and the latter have been moving up as signs mount that the North American economy is gaining traction (leading to the Federal Reserve hinting that it may need to wind down its monetary stimulus). But when the economy lifts off into a self-sustaining phase, employment and income growth will also be gaining momentum --- which, in turn, will offset the adverse impact of rising interest rates on house prices. There is nothing unusual about this dynamic: it appears regularly in the history of business cycles. 2. Empirical data does not support the thesis that higher mortgage rates inevitably translate into lower house prices. In fact, a study of monthly housing data from 1980 to mid-2010 by mortgage specialist David Larock found that the majority of rate increases in Canada did not lower house prices. 3. It is still an open question whether or not an uptrend has begun in mortgage rates. Usually more than one increase is required to make that call. But if an uptrend is beginning, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s worth noting that variablerate mortgages remain tied to the Bank of Canadaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lending rate --- and it will not be adjusted upward until the housing market is able to take it in stride. 4. History shows that the initial rounds of increases in mortgage rates are actually bullish for the housing market because people mulling a house purchase are given a nudge off the fence. There is anecdotal evidence for this already: for example, as Rob McLister, editor of CanadianMortgageTrends.com, tweeted June 3: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Multiple lenders are reporting high application volumes [due to] people trying to beat rate increases.â&#x20AC;? 5. There is a fair amount of pent-up demand on the sidelines that could be encouraged by higher mortgage rates to enter the market. As industry insider, Ann Hannah, told the Globe and Mail recently, â&#x20AC;&#x153;a growing number of households who put their decision to purchase on hold as a result of stricter lending guidelines are starting to become active again in the

ownership market.â&#x20AC;? In addition, some of the people who have been renting or living with parents in hopes of buying a home at a lower price may be getting married, having kids, receiving salary increases, or otherwise simply deciding they canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t wait any longer. 6. If a rise in mortgage rates is beginning, the Canadian market has a much greater capacity to absorb it than the U.S. back in the 2000s. About 70% of mortgages in Canada are currently fixed-rate mortgages and most of those are for five-year terms. This means rate increases will feed into the market slowly since only a portion of these mortgages come due every year. Just before the U.S. housing crash, about 75% of mortgages in that country were on variable rates and the Federal Reserve was aggressively driving them up. Lastly, a recent National Bank Financial study found only 7% of borrowers under CMHCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mortgage insurance program had low credit ratings, compared to 28% in the U.S. at the end of 2006. 7. The rate increase announced this week was for published rates. It is still quite supportive, and discounted rates are even lower, near 3% on the 5-year term. Furthermore, it would not be surprising if published rates lagged increases in bond yields (and/or discounted rates lagged published rates) for the reason mentioned in Tim Shufeltâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;The incredible shrinking mortgage rate.â&#x20AC;? As he writes: â&#x20AC;&#x153;a slowing housing market puts even more pressure on the banks to cut their [profit margins] as they battle for share in a dwindling market.â&#x20AC;? 8. True, there may come a time when the economy becomes overheated and the Bank of Canada needs to tighten. But that is far off in the future. And presumably, policymakers will be sufficiently chastened by what happened in the housing-meltdown countries to be more circumspect about precipitating housing busts. Finally, ongoing growth in incomes, along with the governmentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s tinkering with mortgage rules to keep a lid on prices, should have by then brought valuation down to safer levels. penghocktan.com | 23


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Heart Of Mississauga


Tan•gazine June-July 2013 Vol 3 Issue 04