Mortgage and Housing Industry News – Insight from An Expert

Mortgage and Housing Industry News – Insight from an Expert

 

As part of Ownest’s commitment to staying on top of the latest industry trends and innovations, we recently attended a webinar by economist and housing expert, Will Dunning. We are pleased to bring you some highlights from the presentation along with some interesting statistics.

 

Highlight Summary

  • Lower rates are driving up home prices across Canada, yet home ownership is still affordable in Alberta, where the combination of low interest rates and lower than average home prices makes Alberta a good place to buy.

  • There was a big shift away from variable mortgages in 2020, simply due to extremely low fixed rates.

  • Usually, past trends give reliable clues about what might happen in the near future. That is not the case in these abnormal times: data on sales has been inconsistent and this may continue. Despite CMHC’s changes to debt ratio policy, which cut homebuyers’ purchase power by up to 11%, and the stress test introduced earlier in the year, there has been a temporary spike in home sales in many places in Canada.

  • What are the implications for mortgage policies of COVID-19? The greatest risk for the mortgage market during the pandemic is loss of ability to pay, not changes in payments.

  • The changes to the stress test were supposed to decrease delinquency rates on mortgages, but the policy has not unfolded as expected. Canadian Bankers Association data shows that of the 795,000 clients who were given mortgage flexibility, 498,000 resumed payments as of September 30, and no doubt more resumed by the end of November. However, a large but unknown number have not yet resumed payments.

  • The direction of ownership rates has reversed due to regulatory changes made in 2016. These changes included lower amortization requirements and higher down payments, which have led to a decline in the overall rate of home ownership.

 

Buyer Insights

  • What is the primary source for down payment for first time buyers? Unlike prevailing thinking, it is not the “Bank of Mom and Dad” but rather it is savings, including RRSP’s.

  • What is the relationship between employment trends and the housing market? The housing market usually takes 3-4 years to catch up to major employment trends. For example, if a person changes employment, they likely will only then begin working towards saving for a down payment, with home ownership following three to four years later.

 

Will Dunning is Chief Economist for Mortgage Professionals Canada and has specialized in the analysis and forecasting of housing markets since 1982. He also operates an economic analysis consulting firm, Will Dunning Inc.

 

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