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Looking back 5 years.. which mortgage product did your Banker recommend in 2008?

greedy bankerRemember 2008?  It was almost 5 years ago that the U.S. sub-prime mortgage scandal erupted.   October 2008, to be exact.  That’s almost 5 years ago…  And with October and November 2013 renewals being less than 120 days away, we can now lock in some rates for those upcoming renewals.  So I thought this would be a great time to see what sort of advice and recommendations the Banks were giving to their mortgage customers.

THE BANK’S ADVICE

The funny thing is, Banks have never changed their advice or strategy.  ‘Take a 5 year fixed rate’.  That’s all the Banks seem to want to promote.  And with good reason… it’s the most profitable product FOR THE BANKS.   But historically, it’s NOT the best product to take.   There is no historical data that I am aware of that shows taking a 5 year fixed is the best strategy.  But I’ll get into that in more detail later. Continue reading “Looking back 5 years.. which mortgage product did your Banker recommend in 2008?”

Interest rates to stay low for longer than expected…

Mark Carney The, soon to be, ex-Bank of Canada Governor, Mark Carney, is leaving us with a present…  During yesterday’s Rate Announcement, the first of eight regularly scheduled rate meetings this year, Carney said the economy is growing at a slower pace than expected….  we having a cooling housing market….. inflation remains low and is not an immediate concern….  Last but not least, he expects the economy will not reach it’s full capacity in late 2014 and that withdrawing any monetary policy stimulus is less imminent than previously anticipated.

End result, no rate hikes are expected til 2014…  These comments come as a bit of a surprise given the Bank of Canada has wanted to raise rates for the past 2 years.  Well, maybe it’s Carney’s way of giving us a departing present….Let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth. Continue reading “Interest rates to stay low for longer than expected…”

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

BMO Economist forecast no rate hikes til 2013

More good news…. interest rates are not expected to increase til 2013, according to Bank of Montreal.

Really no surprise here.  The global economy is not doing well.  But here in Canada, the economy is performing relatively well.   The only reason our stock market and Canadian $ are down is because of the uncertainty of the European debt crisis.

5 year fixed rates are hovering at 3.39%… and they are even lower for qualified borrowers…. Variable rates are at around 2.60%…  We are in record low territory.

Did you know a $300,000 mortgage will carry for as little as $1199/month?   Hey, if you’re paying $1400/mth for rent, then why not consider buying place of your own…  And for those that want off the stock market roller coaster, a rental property may just be what you need…  Best thing is to talk to a Mortgage Broker, crunch the numbers and see how it looks.   It’s probably easier than you think.

Govt regulator says interest rates extremely attractive…

We can interpret a sentence to mean several different things…   Take for example the following comments made by the head of the Office of Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI), Julie Dickson:

“current levels of interest rates have already made borrowing extremely attractive to all borrowers.”  (Wall Street Journal)

– “Extremely low rates will be with us for even longer than envisaged before the summer.” (Globe and Mail)

What does that mean to you?   To me, it simply means we are in a historic low interest rate environment.. with an economy that is better off than the rest of the world…  add it all up and it looks like a pretty good time to borrow, if you ask me… Borrowing for a house is NOT the same as borrowing for a car or a trip… A house is a tangible asset.. it appreciates tax-free.  It’s a good investment…

Borrowing to invest

Speaking of borrowing to invest…. rental properties have never looked more attractive…  Borrowing to invest is NOT a bad thing and it is NOT what the regulators and economists are concerned about… They are concerned about borrowers that have borrowed to their absolute maximum capacity and cannot afford to miss a day’s work without being in danger of defaulting on a payment…

Take a bow Canadians… we are doing great!

Last time I checked, Canadians were acting as conservative as ever…. paying down their mortgages faster and borrowing at a slower pace…  Look at these stats from The Montreal Gazette:

“In Canada, an average of 63 per cent of a household’s home value is equity, while in the U.S. this figure is just 39 per cent.” (Matthieu Arseneau, National Bank).

“In Canada, 40 per cent of homeowners have no mortgage debt; in the U.S. it’s 31 per cent.” (Matthieu Arseneau, National Bank).

“Debt amounts to just 24 per cent of a household’s average net worth in Canada, while it’s 29 per cent in the U.S.”  (Matthieu Arseneau, National Bank).

“Mortgage debt, which was climbing by 10 per cent or more through last year, has throttled back to a six-per-cent pace. Other consumer borrowing hasn’t grown at all over the past year.” (Benjamin Tal, CIBC World Markets).

–  “More than 70 per cent of all mortgage-holders are on an accelerated payment schedule, Tal says, adding: “That’s a smart use of low interest rates.” (Benjamin Tal, CIBC World Markets).

Hmmm… the economists tell us we are doing pretty good, judging from those comments….

Final thoughts.

If interest rates were 6%, 7% or 8%, what we would the media be saying?   ‘INTEREST RATES AT HIGHEST LEVEL IN 10 YEARS!’ … or something like that…  and I bet we would also see this headline…  ‘BANKS WARN THAT FURTHER RATE HIKES ARE ON THEIR WAY….BEST TO LOCK INTO A LONG TERM FIXED RATE NOW’…..

Use your own judgement… seek out professional, non-biased (non-bank) advice…. Hey, I don’t know about you, but I’d rather borrow at 2.60% for aVariable rate or 3.39% for a Fixed rate, than 6%, 7%, or 8%…..  We are experiencing historical low interest rates… they will be here a little longer but they won’t last forever.. enjoy them now… take advantage…

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