Post-Covid Home Demand to Continue – Data

What is everyone doing with the money they saved during Covid?

  • Eating out, travel, debt reduction and BUYING HOMES!
  • Mortgage rates are low and home prices are close to 2005 levels!

Mortgage Mark Herman, Top Calgary Alberta Mortgage Broker

Latest Bank of Canada Survey:

As COVID-19 continues to be pushed down in Canada, consumer spending is expected to go up.  The latest survey by the Bank of Canada suggests that will lead to an even greater demand for homes.

The Bank of Canada’s Survey of Consumer Expectations… indicates:

  • 40% of respondents managed to save more money than usual during the pandemic.
  • They expect to spend about 35% of those savings over the next 2 years on activities that have been restricted during the pandemic, such as dining out.
  • Respondents plan to put 10% of their savings toward debt repayment and
  • 10% toward a down payment on a home.

14% plan to buy a home soon, much of that was driven by renters, with 20% saying they want to get into the market.

80% of the respondents who have “worked from home” expect to continue with that and there is a consistent with the shift in demand for larger properties, away from city centres.

Prime Rate Cut; Dec 4, 2019

With the latest developments the Bank of Canada (BoC) has clear path to reduce the Prime rate from 3.95 to probably 3.70%

The Bank of Canada is feeling the pressure to get back into the game with a rate reduction and one obstacle has now been removed.

The bank held its rate the same for an 8th straight meeting on October 30th.

At the same time it has clearly signaled it may not be able to hold that line much longer.

The bank pointed directly at trade conflicts (such as the U.S. – China tariff war) as the key cause of a global economic slowdown and around the world more than 35 other central banks have already cut rates in an effort to keep growth up.

The U.S. Federal Reserve has made three cuts in the past several months.  That has boosted the strength of the Canadian dollar which makes the country’s exports more expensive on the world market which is unwelcome.

Great news that the Bank is not concerned that a drop in interest rates will trigger a renewed frenzy of debt-funded consumer spending.  It is satisfied that the biggest component of household debt – mortgages – have been stabilized by the B-20 regulations.  And another big obstruction has been removed.  The federal election is over so the bank can operate without risking the appearance of political favoritism.

Fixed rates are still the way to go right now.

They are close to the all time 119-year lows right now.

Mortgage Mark Herman


Why you don’t want your mortgage at your main bank

The Big-5 banks do not love you, they love your money, and now they can “trap” you in their mortgages if you fail the Stress Test.

Highlights of the last post are below. The post from January is here:

The new mortgage rules – called the B20 – allow the banks to renew you at almost any rate they want – or at least not a competitive one – if your credit, income, or debts should mean you can’t change banks.

 If your mortgage is at your main bank they can see:

  • your pay and income going into your accounts
  • debt balances on your credit report
  • what your credit score is
  • your debt payments
  • your home/ rental addresses so they can accurately guess at your home value.

ALL THIS MEANS they can calculate if you can pass the new “Stress Test.”

If you can’t pass it then they know you can’t change banks, are you are now totally locked into them for your renewal. They can renew you at POSTED RATES … 5.34%, not actual discounted rates they offer everyone, today (June 2019) about 2.99%.

The GOOD NEWS is broker banks do not do any of this … so having your mortgage at your main bank only helps them “grind you” later on. …. so how convenient is having your mortgage at your bank now?

Highlights of the article link below are:

Canada’s biggest banks are tightening their grip … as new rules designed to cut out risky lending make it harder for borrowers to switch lenders …  the country’s biggest five banks … are reporting higher rates of renewals by existing customers concerned they will not qualify for a mortgage with another bank.

“B-20 has created higher renewal rates for the big banks, driving volumes and goosing their growth rates,” said an analyst. “It’s had the unintended consequence of reducing competition.”

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), said last month that mortgage renewal rates [are up …] due in part to the B-20 regulations.

Ron Butler said, “Even if they are up-to-date with their repayments, borrowers may find they don’t qualify with other lenders so they’re stuck with their bank at whatever rate it offers,” he said.

Senior Canadian bankers such as RBC … and TD … voiced their support for the new rules prior to their introduction, saying rising prices were a threat to Canada’s economy.

While analysts say RBC and TD are expected to benefit from higher-than-normal retention rates in 2019, not everyone is sure borrowers will benefit.

“The banks are becoming more sophisticated in targeting borrowers who would fail the stress test and they can charge them higher rates at renewal knowing they can’t move elsewhere,” Butler said.

The Details: What you need to know about “discount mortgages.”

Grandma always said, “The price is the price, but the details are the details!”

There are discounted and restricted mortgage rates out there but they do not share the details of their disadvantages up front with you.

  1. Restricted or Limited Products / Bait & Switch

People will not even sign a 3 year cell- phone contact any more but they will try to save $15 a month on a restricted mortgage; which could cost them $30,000 as a payout penalty – BUYER BEWARE is what the regulators say.

Brokers often advertise these products to get you to call them and then they switch you into a “regular product” if you are lucky – or you get a “restricted product” that you probably do not want if you know all the details.

Discount mortgages called “limited” or “restricted” and often have:

  • No rate holds
  • Only monthly payments
  • Only 1 statement a year
  • No on-line administration = call centre only
  • Only 5/5 extra repayment option – most broker lenders are 15/15 + 2x or 20/20
    • The 1st number is the % of the original mortgage amount you can repay every year without penalty
    • The 2nd number is the increase in monthly payment in % you can do without penalty.
    • The 2x = double the payment!
  • And they use the bank payout penalty calculations – as below in the Dirty Trick – AND in addition to that penalty, a 3% fee of the entire mortgage balance added to the penalty!
    • This could easily end up at $30,000.

 The other main “Details” that are not often disclosed are:

2.Collateral Charge

To keep you from leaving the bank for a lower rate when you renew later, the banks register your mortgage as a collateral charge – which is the same as an “I owe you” / IOU for the home. Other banks will not take another banks IOU for a mortgage; which means:

  • A lawyer will have to re-register your mortgage at land titles; $1000.
  • An appraisal is needed as the registration is usually for more than the value  of the home; $450

3. The “Dirty Trick” of how the banks calculate your payout penalty

To avoid these products, or to disucss what your personal situation may be, call us any time at 403-681-4376.

Mark Herman, Top Calgary, Alberta, mortgage broker for renewals, first time home buyers and home purchases.

Calgary top-rated market for overall real estate prospects

­ Calgary top-rated market for overall real estate prospects

This is great news for buyers … you are buying a home and a great investment – not the case for other provinces.

As we have always been saying … Alberta’s in-bound migration and strong job market will support home prices.

Did you know that Alberta is short 25,000 jobs in the oil field right now? That is going to continue for the medium term! – Mark Herman 

Strong economic and employment growth forecast

CALGARY – For the second year in a row, Calgary is the top-rated market in Canada for overall real estate prospects, according to a survey of industry experts.

Calgary kept the top spot with the highest ratings for prospects in three categories – investment, development and homebuilding, said the Emerging Trends in Real Estate report by PwC and the Urban Land Institute.

“The Calgary economy continues to post solid gains, despite the disruption caused by summer flooding,” said the report. “The energy industry, primarily oil, remains strong and will continue to benefit from economic growth around the world.

“Locally, energy and energy service companies have dominated office demand. Economic activity is being supported by growth in both the goods and services sectors. Manufacturing and construction will lead the goods sector, and personal services and transportation and warehousing are the key drivers on the service side.”

The report is based on a survey of over 1,000 industry experts including investors, fund managers, developers, property companies, lenders, brokers, advisers and consultants.

The ratings of other Canadian cities in order following Calgary are: Edmonton, Saskatoon, Vancouver, Toronto, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Halifax and Montreal.

The report said economic activity in Calgary is projected to grow at a 3.3 per cent rate in 2013 and a 3.4 per cent rate in 2014. Employment growth is expected to slow but remain good through the end of this year and into 2014, growing at 2.4 per cent and 2.8 per cent, respectively.

Inspection needed even when buying new condo

Many people do not get inspections for new condos but since it is one of the most expensive things you can buy, it is worth it. Read below for more info.

Many buyers think it’s unnecessary to hire a building inspector before purchasing a new condo. Prospective owners often assume a condo building and their unit of interest is fine and everything is to code and working properly. While this is usually the case, purchasers still need to protect themselves against those rare occasions where a problem exists.

A friend of mine, for example, moved into a newly constructed condo where someone had inadvertently dropped a piece of plywood down the chimney flu, blocking it off. When the new owner lit the fireplace, smoke backed up through the unit.

Although the condo corporation took care of the fireplace, the owner was responsible for the smoke cleanup. A pre-purchase inspection would likely have avoided this problem as the offending piece of wood was within view of a casual look up the chimney.

I have sold many condos where buyers think they do not require an inspection, but every condo should be inspected by a certified building inspector.

Remember: It’s a good idea to put a building inspection clause into your offer. And it’s important to find a building inspector who is familiar with condo inspections. He or she will be cognizant of the types of problems to look for and of condominium building codes and regulations.

“What does an inspector check in a new condo? Isn’t this a waste of time and money?” I am asked this all the time.

An inspector will make sure your hood fan exhaust is properly connected. He will ensure that the electrical system is to code, in working order and adequate to meet any special electrical requirements you might have. Windows will be inspected to see they are installed properly and to regulation. A good inspector will also check the common elements to see if any owners who moved in before you have inflicted damage to the halls or elevators.

Is the garage constructed to code with adequate drainage to prevent flooding, winter road-salt spalling and excessive humidity build-up? An inspector will check the drainage in the garage and your parking spot. You want to make sure when you open your trunk to take out your groceries you are not always standing in a puddle of water.

The inspector will check the condo’s exterior envelope to see if it has adequate drainage and if it will deter ice buildup. Since the balcony is both the exterior element in which you will spend the most time and is also a source of liability (e.g.: ice buildup or water-damaged tiles blowing down onto the cars below), it will be examined carefully for potential problems.

Inspectors will check the roof and any air conditioning units located there, the security gate to the garage and many other things you would not think to consider.

The biggest factors are plumbing, electrical, heating and wiring. These must be to code, meet regulations and be suitable to accommodate any special requirements you, the buyer, might have. To further emphasize, a recent inspection revealed an ice buildup problem that, if not caught by the inspection, would have cost the buyer, along with the condo corporation, $20,000 to correct.

Definitely not a nice housewarming present.

Arkadi Abramovitch of Artech Home Inspections told me recently that technology has changed a lot in the past few years and this has helped to ensure buyers have a positive buying experience. Arkadi, along with many inspectors today, uses infrared equipment to check for moisture buildup in or behind the walls or ceilings, which would not normally be visible.

Inspectors check the exhaust systems for bathroom ventilation fans and kitchen hood fans that have sometimes been blocked inadvertently. A memorable condo inspection Arkadi had was when he found two Tim Hortons cups in a kitchen ventilation exhaust system.

It’s better to find out before closing on your unit than to try to fix the issue (and be reimbursed) later. Ask the inspector specifically for his or her impressions of the common areas as they may or may not do this if they aren’t asked specifically.

By now, I hope you are sold on the need for a building inspection for a new condo and it should be evident that this applies even more to a resale condo.

When first considering a resale condo, it’s a good idea to ask residents (if you know any) about previous problems with the building. When you request a building inspection, ask the inspector to address specifically these areas. (Of course, you are going to have both your lawyer and your insurance agent review the status certificate before signing off on the purchase.)

On the flip side, I encourage sellers to get a pre-inspection before their property is listed for sale.

Marilyn Wilson has been selling real estate for more than 23 years and owns Marilyn Wilson Dream Properties Inc.

Brokerage in Ottawa, an Exclusive Affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate. She can be reached through or follow her on Twitter @marilyn_wilson.

Housing in Calgary still going strong!

Multi-time buyers will be the biggest force in the market

The predicted slump in Canada’s housing market has failed to materialize. Apart from two areas of acute weakness – Toronto’s condo market and Vancouver in general – there has been an orderly retreat.

While the December 2012 figures in Toronto, for example, showed a 20% drop in sales compared to the year before, the January 2013 numbers show a modest 1.3% decline year-over-year. At the same time prices for a single family home rose 4.3% year-over-year. Elsewhere in the country, away from the Toronto and Vancouver volatility, Calgary saw sales climb 15% while Edmonton was up 3%.

Interestingly homes in the $1 million-dollar-plus range saw a 3.5% increase sales increase in January. This would back-up recent survey results from Re/Max Realty that indicate a shift in the buyers who are driving the market. The survey suggests that second-time and multi-time buyers will be the biggest force in the market with some 70% being serious about making a move in the next two years. First time buyers made-up about 30% of those who’d buy in the same time period.

Alberta: 23,300 jobs were created, unemployment rate 2nd lowest in Canada

Canadians continue to move to Alberta for jobs and our hot economy. This is what caused the housing boom in 2007 and is expected to continue to support home prices here. With only 2000 listings for homes for sale prices are actually rising here – the opposite of Vancouver and Toronto.

CALGARY — Alberta’s unemployment rate remained unchanged in January at 4.5 per cent, second lowest in the country behind Saskatchewan’s 4.0 per cent, according to Statistics Canada.

The federal agency reported Friday that Alberta saw an employment gain of 9,700 positions from December, up 0.4 per cent. On a year-over-year basis, employment in the province has grown by 1.9 per cent or 41,100 positions.

In the Calgary census metropolitan area, the unemployment rate rose from 4.6 per cent in December to 4.9 per cent in January. There were 1,700 jobs created, up 0.2 per cent. Year-over-year, 23,300 jobs were created in the region for an increase in employment of 3.2 per cent.

“Alberta added jobs, but the unemployment rate held steady, as more people joined the labour force,” said Jacqueline Palladini, economist with the Conference Board of Canada.

Todd Hirsch, senior economist with ATB Financial, said 8,600 of the new jobs in Alberta were full-time positions.

Job gains in Alberta were concentrated in finance, insurance and real estate (6,800), business support services (5,500), and construction (4,800). Those gains were partially offset by losses in transportation and warehousing (11,800), and retail and wholesale trades (6,800), explained Hirsch.

“January’s jobs report continues to portray Alberta’s labour market as healthy and balanced,” he said. “New jobs are being created to accommodate interprovincial and international migrants, but not so many that wages or labour shortages are in danger of overheating. In the months ahead, it is certainly possible, even likely, that the pace of new job creation will slow, particularly given the challenges in the energy sector. That should not be the cause of too much alarm, however. With 4.5 per cent unemployment, the economy is more than capable of managing a more moderate job market.”

Nationally, following two months of gains, employment decreased slightly in January by 22,000. A decline in the number of people looking for work pushed the unemployment rate down 0.1 percentage points to 7.0 per cent.

Compared with 12 months earlier, employment increased by 1.6 per cent or 286,000, all in full-time work.

Douglas Porter, chief economist with BMO Capital Markets, said Canadian employment fell in January after a five-month stretch of surprisingly powerful gains.

“Combined with the steep drop in housing starts as well as the still-wide trade deficit, the jobs report rounds out a day of infamy for Canadian economic stats,” said Porter. “To some extent, the drop in jobs appears to be a payback for the surprising strength in the second half of last year, and would normally be little cause for concern. However, with housing softening notably, and consumers and governments not in much mood, or ability, to spend, the economy will need a major helping hand from a stronger U.S. performance in the year ahead to help generate renewed job gains.”

Sonya Gulati, senior economist with TD Economics, said the Canadian job market started 2013 on a sour note.

“The contraction seen this month is not the beginning of a new year – the recent pace of job creation was running too fast given economic growth,” she said.

“The Canadian job market fizzled to start the New Year. This should not have been a surprise to anyone. Labour market data in Canada are notoriously volatile and it is hard to infer trends even with a few months under your belt. If we use economic momentum and indicators as our gauge, job creation should come in around 10,000-20,000 in the next few months.”

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© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Momentum continues in Calgary luxury home market

MLS sales in January just shy of all-time record for the month

CALGARY — Calgary’s housing market experienced a record year for luxury home sales in 2012 and the pace of transactions in January 2013 suggests the market is not slowing down.

According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, there were 34 MLS sales in Calgary of properties over $1 million in January — just shy of the January record of 36 luxury sales in 2007.

Calgary finished 2012 with an all-time record of 544 luxury home sales, eclipsing the previous mark of 458 in 2007.

The luxury home market in the city has rebounded following the recession dip of a couple of years ago.

Don Campbell, senior analyst and founding partner of the Real Estate Investment Network, said that during market corrections luxury homes are the first to drop off, after recreational properties, and the first to come back unlike recreational which is always last to recover.

“In Calgary, within the business world, confidence in business has come roaring back,” he said. “This has led those with capital and strong businesses to take the leap into the market.

“In a higher than average percentage, due to their more business orientation, those buying luxury homes have their finger on the pulse of economic direction and therefore with the resurgence of the Calgary economy over the last 14 months, they are identifying the fact that the luxury homes they want are not going to get any cheaper than they are now. They are seeing the underlying economic strength of the city and want to get into the market before it is reflected in the housing market. That is why you saw so much activity in 2012.”

Campbell said the large number of luxury home sales will push average sale prices up more than it is really being felt at the mid-market level.

“This will create un-supported expectations of mid-market sellers. Also, there are only so many luxury market homes in any given market and they are often the first to move,” said Campbell. “What we often see is a slowdown in these sales after 18 to 24 months and when this occurs it slows down the average sale price increase to lower than is being felt on the street.

“The other anomaly we are seeing in Calgary in the luxury market is the profile of the buyer. Compared to Toronto and Vancouver, whose luxury homebuyer demographic is made up of a large percentage of foreign/offshore buyers, Calgary’s luxury homebuyer profile is very local. People here in business have high paying jobs in Alberta. This is a much more stable cohort than the often fickle offshore buyer.”

Last year in January there were 16 luxury home sales in Calgary. After hitting a high in 2007, the market dipped to only six sales in January 2009.

“We have seen a 20 per cent increase in luxury sales in Calgary in 2012 over 2011 and are seeing tremendous momentum building already in 2013 this past month,” said Rachelle Starnes, realtor with Royal LePage Foothills in Calgary. “We have seen 10 sales over $1 million in Rocky View County in the past month, up 67 per cent over the same period last year. The Springbank area continues to be the busiest being one of the wealthiest areas in the country.

“Prices have dropped in the higher-end to reasonable levels, there is a dwindling supply and buyers have been out shopping the market for months. They have done their research and are ready to buy the minute the ‘perfect’ home hits the market. Calgary continues to be the ‘City of Choice’ for corporations moving West and the high salaries from the oil and gas market sectors allow for lots of ‘move-up’ buyers.”

The following are the annual sales in Calgary for homes priced at more than $1 million, according to the Calgary Real Estate Board:

2012 — 544

2011 — 446

2010 — 365

2009 — 337

2008 — 369

2007 — 458

2006 — 334

2005 — 138

2004 — 44

2003 — 36

2002 — 21

2001 — 14

2000 — 14

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