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Tageconomy

Rising personal debt levels.. but how about rising asset levels?

net worthEver notice how all economic news is bad?  Seriously, when was the last time you heard Canadians were doing well, financially?   Even when we came out of the October 2008 U.S. sub-prime mortgage crisis (notice I’m very specific about the cause of that recession) with flying colours, we kept seeing the same negative messages about how lucky we were to come out of this as strong as we did.

But here we are, 5 years later (hard to believe it’s been 5 years) and all we keep hearing and reading is how the economy is fragile… the housing bubble is coming… personal debt levels are at record highs…  housing affordability index has increased (this measures how much of your income is used for housing)…   This all sounds terrible and depressing.. maybe we should sell everything, move to another country and herd sheep? Continue reading “Rising personal debt levels.. but how about rising asset levels?”

Listings down, prices up…. housing bubble?

Latest housing stats show listings are down, sales are down… but prices are up, only slightly…. and houses aren’t on the market as long.  They are selling faster.   Doesn’t sound like a bubble to me.  More like a soft landing.

This is exactly what the govt had in mind when it changed mortgage rules a few months ago and made it tougher to qualify for a mortgage.  It’s still too early to say if these changes are just right or went too far….. We’ll need another 6 months or so to see the full effect.   Best guesses are that the housing market could slow by 5%.   But I haven’t seen that happen… In the Greater Toronto area, we are still seeing multiple offers and sales go above asking price….  The interesting stat for me is the fewer number of sales… We’ll be watching that stat… fewer sales over an extended period of time will stop any price increases…

This also means we should expect interest rates to remain low.  The Bank of Canada will be under less pressure to raise rates with a flat housing market.   Throw in the U.S. Fed’s announcement last week that they were going to keep rates the same until 2014-15, and we have the perfect setting for low rates.

RECORD LOW INTEREST ARE STILL HERE…. WHY AREN’T WE TALKING ABOUT THIS?

Speaking of low interest rates…  Here’s some advice… before you put your plans to buy on hold, you should remember that we are still enjoying historically low interest rates.  5 year fixed rates at 3.09%… Variable rates at 2.65%..!!   This is a fact that so many of us tend to ignore…. maybe it’s just too boring to talk about.    I’ll make it more exciting…

A $400k mortgage will carry for $1912/mth based on today’s 3.09% 5 yr fixed rate…….Wanna wait for house prices to fall and save some money?  Ok, but you should also expect interest rates to rise… lower house prices are caused by higher interest rates and higher unemployment…  We don’t expect higher unemployment so we must attribute any house price drop to a rise in interest rates……a look back at the last housing crash in 1989 showed interest rates went up to 11% and 12% just before the crash….. make sense so far?

This is where so many of us stop thinking or analyzing…Cashflow and affordability are probably just as important or more important than rate, mortgage balance, purchase price, etc… if you aren’t comfortable with the payment, you will run into problems…. By the way, affordability is still VERY good according the RBC affordability index.

REAL MORTGAGE MATH SHOWS TRUE COST OF WAITING TO BUY

Let’s continue….Let’s say rates go to more normal levels…  we’ll use 5% interest rates..  That same $400k mortgage will cost you $2326/mth.….  and if you wanna adjust the mortgage size by $40k because house prices should fall 10%, okay…  a $360k mortgage at 5% will cost you $2094/mth... That’s still $182/mth more… and let’s also not forget, that you may have lost 1, 2, 3 or more years of not paying a mortgage down….  Did you know you will pay your mortgage down by around $10k per year in the first 3 yrs alone?

Real Estate isn’t always a great investment, but it usually makes more sense to buy, hold and enjoy, than it does not to buy and rent….  And with interest rates at record lows, it’s even easier to make that recommendation.   Stop listening to the pessimist that say the sky is falling or the world is ending…  If we listened to them, we would be renting for the last 10+ years… for that’s how long they have been saying house prices are inflated and need to drop…..

As always, if you aren’t sure where you fit in or what’s best for you, feel free to contact me to discuss…  Your questions and comments are welcome.

Steve Garganis

steve@mortgagenow.ca

416 224 0114

Bank of Cda doesn’t change rate…U.S. Fed not to raise rates until 2015?

Bank of Canada announced they were keeping the Target Rate unchanged today, during their 6th of 8 regularly scheduled meetings for 2012.  (This is not a recording..Lol!)

A more interesting topic is the U.S. Fed.  There was an article last week that caught my eye.   The article quotes the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank president as saying he doesn’t believe the U.S. Fed will raise rates until 2015.  And even if you don’t agree with that forecast, we must acknowledge that US Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has stated he doesn’t forecast any increases until 2014.

Why is this important for Canadians to follow?  They say when the U.S sneezes, Canada catches a cold.   There’s a lot of truth to that statement.  The U.S. is our biggest trading partner.   History tells us we follow U.S. economic policies and trends.

CANADA MAKES IT’S OWN PATH

But something changed in 2008.   The U.S. had a financial meltdown.  The entire world was impacted and pushed into a global recession.   Somehow, Canada came out of this with minimal damage.   No housing crash.  No Bank failures.  No meltdown.   In fact, many sectors our industry have flourished including our housing industry.   We don’t have any mortgage default problem.   Our unemployment rate is 7.3% compared with the 30 yr average of 8.4%.   And our Banks are reporting $billion quarterly profits.    We are the envy of the world….financially speaking.

CDA GOVT CONTINUES TO FOLLOW US GOVT

Still, the Cda govt continues to follow the U.S. Fed with regards to any rate increases or decreases.  After all, we are still a very small economy compared with the U.S. and the rest of the world.  The Bank of Canada has not increased the Target Rate for 24 months.  Bank Prime currently sits at 3.00%.   And many economists believe we won’t see any increase until late 2013 or even 2014.   This leads me to believe mortgage rates will remain low for some time to come.

BUT WHICH MORTGAGE TERM SHOULD YOU CHOOSE?

The big question is which mortgage term to choose today… short or long?  fixed or variable?   The answer depends on you…. your goals, plans, financial strategy, risk tolerance, etc.   Each of us has different needs… Product selection is very different today.   There is an interested Variable rate product at Prime less 0.35% that has my attention.  5 yr fixed at 3.19% and 3.09% are still available… not a bad option for most of us…. My best advice is to get some advice.   Speak with a qualified, unbiased professional.  Speak with a Mortgage Broker.   A Mortgage Broker doesn’t work for any one Bank.. they can offer a wide variety of products from a large number of Lenders….

As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me.

Steve Garganis

steve@mortgagenow.ca

416 224 0114

Bond rates up 0.30%…and 5 yr mortgages at 2.99% disappear.. for now.

Last week we saw 5 yr fixed mortgage rates hit 2.99% for the first time ever (these are full featured mortgages, not No Frills products).   But these rates didn’t last long… just 3 days later, bond yields spiked up and mortgage rates followed…  5 yr fixed rates now sit at 3.09%.

The 5 year Govt of Canada bond yields are up 0.30% since July 24th, and are currently sitting at 1.42%.  That’s a 26% increase in 2 weeks.  These bond yields have a direct effect on 5 yr fixed mortgage rates.     If bond yields continue to go up, we could see mortgage rates go up further.    Looking further ahead, the 2yr Govt of Canada bond yields provide us with a 6 month outlook…  they have also gone up from 0.93% to 1.16%, a 20% increase… if the yields stay at this level, we should look for rates to go up slightly…

Still, these are historical low rates… anything under 4.00% is ridiculously low…  We haven’t seen 5 yr fixed rates under 4.00% for over 40 yrs..  This isn’t time to panic…it’s still a great time to borrow money…

This seems to be an ongoing pattern.  Rates go up temporarily, then they drop… they go up, then they drop…    We’ve been stuck in this cycle for over 2 years.  But hey, who’s complaining?  Not anyone with a mortgage….not any real estate investors… this means money is cheap….. and it makes investing in real estate a very attractive option.

For those of us with a pension or if you are heavily invested in stocks, bonds or mutual funds, then you won’t like these low rates as they are keeping your Return On Investment very low……  Personally, I have some money in mutual funds and some stocks…..I started with my RRSP in 1990…. they were supposed to be a safe, long-term investments…. The only problem is, I’ve never made any positive return… Sound familiar?   The only ones making money are the Fund Managers (with their 2% Management fees) and Investment Advisors (with their 5% or 6% Deferred Sales Charges).

I lost my appetite for stocks and mutual funds, in 2000… the year of the dot com, dot bomb, internet stock market crash… the markets have been a roller coaster ride ever since… I got off that ride in 2004 and have never looked back.

If you’re looking for investment strategies in mortgages and real estate, drop me a line or give me a call… I’d be happy to share some of my knowledge and experiences of others that are enjoying positive returns elsewhere.

Steve Garganis

416 224 0114  steve@mortgagenow.ca

 

 

Shhh…Interest rates are still at record lows… and Canadians are making huge prepayments.

 IT’S OKAY TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT LOW INTEREST RATES

I’m sure this isn’t what our Federal govt wants you to hear.   But it’s true… Fixed rates are in the low 3.00%s….  So why aren’t we feeling good about this?   Why isn’t everyone happy?   Record low interest rates means less interest cost to you… it means low housing costs…It means you are saving money.

A mortgage is the biggest debt most of us will ever have…  We all talk about mortgage rates with our friends, co-workers and family…. It’s a popular subject… But for some reason, we aren’t feeling good about these low rates…  It’s almost like we should be feeling a little guilty, like the cat that swallowed the canary… do you feel like that?

Could it be that we have been beaten to death with negative messages by the Federal Minister of Finance?   Housing Bubble coming!!!…. personal debt levels rising!!… higher interest rates coming…!!   Maple Leafs win Stanley cup (oops, had to throw that one in)… we’ve been talking about these same things for years… yet they haven’t happened!  I’m not saying these aren’t concerns but I think some of these have been overstated without providing enough proof or evidence.

The govt doesn’t want you to borrow at these rates…   They are afraid you would be too irresponsible and would borrow more than you could afford… (never mind the fact that you must qualify at BANK POSTED rates which are 2.00% higher than these wholesale mortgage rates…)

NEW STATISTICS SHOW WE ARE RESPONSIBLE AND NOT SHOWING ANY SIGNS OF TROUBLE

By the way… the strange part about all this “boy that cried wolf” noise from the govt, is that there really isn’t any proof that we are in trouble….  That’s right..  Mortgage Arrears are low and have been low for over a decade… Affordability is better than it was 20 years ago!   (low rates have helped but increases in income have also factored in)…

And how about this stat that just came out….Around 23% of Canadian mortgage borrowers have increased their regular mortgage payments by $400 to $500 per month.  19% are making lump sum payments of around $12,500 per year.   That works out to over $20billion in extra payments towards their mortgages.  Or put another way, over 1 million mortgage holders out of the estimated 5.85million mortgage holders in Canada are paying far more than the minimum payment.   Does this sound like a country of irresponsible borrowers? … (source Financial Post).

Either the govt’s message has sunk in, or there really wasn’t as big a problem as we were led to believe…. I’ll let you be the judge…

But we could be facing a ‘Made in Canada’ problem as this article states… .  With the govt planning to make the biggest changes in history with  mortgage and HELOC lending, they will be affecting a large segment of new borrowers but even more EXISTING borrowers… they will force a large percentage of Canadians to sell their homes, close their businesses or seek higher interest debt….  And why?  What purpose does it serve?  The stats tell us we are fine…

House prices are hot in Toronto but they are cold in the rest of Canada…  The govt is providing a solution to problem that doesn’t exist.

If you aren’t sure if you could benefit from today’s low rates,  or how these proposed new lending changes will affect you, give me a call or send me an email…  I’d be happy to discuss your options.

Steve Garganis