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Pre-approvals and rate holds in home loans

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When it comes to getting a home mortgage approved, "pre-approval" can be one of the trickiest factors in determining mortgage rates. With the housing market always at least somewhat in flux, many people looking to buy turn to pre-approval as a way to find a preferred rate as they search for a home.

But even for mortgage professionals, the term pre-approval can take on different meanings. And to make things even trickier, it is often conflated with the term "rate hold," which to the average consumer, as well as many lenders, sounds like two different things. However, some mortgage professionals view them as the same. So, how does one make sense of this already complicated process when people inside the industry can't even seem to completely agree? Continue reading

CMHC consumer survey sheds light on mortgage process

When evaluating the mortgage market, one of the best ways to understand how the industry is faring is to look at the ways consumers are going about the process of finding a mortgage. The manner in which borrowers react to rules and regulations, use various tools to search for mortgage information (including lender websites and mortgage calculators) and whether or not they choose to use a mortgage broker, are key indicators of the health of the overall market.

Recently, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) released a survey that revealed some of that information, and its results serve to shine some light on how borrowers feel about the mortgage process in 2013.

Research
Obviously, the internet plays a huge role in how people research mortgage options. The report states that 63 percent of consumers searched for information about mortgages online. On top of that, 84 percent of consumers researched mortgage rates online. While that already represents a large majority, it is highly likely the number will continue to grow. That means lenders and brokers who haven't already put a lot of work into developing their online footprint are far behind the curve, and those who already have put in that effort will need to continue to do so in the future. Continue reading

Over Half of Canadian Retirees Are in Debt, but That Doesn’t Have to Include You

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A recent poll done by CIBC and Harris/Decima has found that 59% of Canadian retirees are still in debt. Worse yet, the poll finds that 55% of people that carry debt into retirement have seen their debt levels either increase or remain unchanged over the past year.

As you can imagine, it only becomes more difficult to repay your debt once you have lost the bulk of your income due to retirement. So it stands to reason that every effort should be made to repay your debt before retirement, right? Easier said than done, of course, but it is possible. The earlier you start paying down your debt the better, but there are options, even if you are on the cusp of retirement. Continue reading

Department of Finance rules lead to fewer first-time home loans

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Rules issued by the Department of Finance last year that tightened mortgage standards appear to be having their intended effect, slightly suppressing demand by first-time buyers, especially in British Columbia. While approximately 20 percent of people across Canada who were looking to secure first-time home loans delayed such a move due to the new rules, that number was higher in B.C., where one-third of respondents said they would wait (compared to a low of 11 percent in Ontario), according to a study commissioned by BMO.

Prices remain high
Despite the decline in demand among first-time buyers, overall housing prices have remained high, continuing to set records in most places across the country. With mortgage rates still below 3 percent, demand has remained steady and inventory relatively low, since few people are allowing talk of a possible housing bubble to scare them into selling. Continue reading

Creeping mortgage rates are part of housing market’s soft landing

The reports of the demise of Canada's housing sector appear to have been greatly exaggerated. According to the Royal LePage House Price Survey, housing prices across the country continue to post relatively modest gains, and home loans have been kept in check, leading to market stability. And, defying those who had predicted an imminent collapse, it doesn't appear there will be any extreme price movement either way through at least the end of 2013 and probably into 2014.

Avoiding the housing bubble
Four different sets of rules have been issued by the Department of Finance since the worldwide housing bubble collapse in 2008, all of which increased lending restrictions. Those efforts, along with the creeping rise in mortgage rates over the past few months, appear to have helped the Canadian housing sector into a soft landing, avoiding any possible catastrophe. Continue reading

Home loans soon to be under stricter regulation

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The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) recently issued new guidelines for the use of debt ratios and confirmation of income documents in their mortgage calculators. Set to take effect on December 31, 2013, many lenders are already adhering to the stipulations, while others, like Genworth Canada, are in the process of reviewing them, and may not completely implement the guidelines by the end of the year.

What the new debt ratio rules mean for borrowers
Last year, the Department of Finance issued its fourth round of rules tightening mortgage insurance practices. Those rules, intended to shield the Canadian economy from the brunt of the worldwide debt crisis, set restrictions on mortgage applications for new borrowers with less than 20 percent equity. The long-term repercussions of last year's moves, along with this newest set of rules from the CMHC, should serve to further cement mortgage standards and close existing loopholes. Continue reading

Mortgage rates effect spring home sales

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In May, sales of existing homes in Canada rose 3.6 percent, marking the biggest monthly gain in two-and-a-half years. But with Canadian mortgage rates likely to rise, and some doomsayers predicting a housing bubble, the question is whether that growth is sustainable.

Rising interest rates pushing people to buy now?
Many buyers, realtors and investors are trying to figure out how much of a role the expected rise in interest rates is playing in the heating up of the housing market. With the U.S. set to begin slowing down its reliance on quantitative easement – a policy it has been following for some time now, where the Federal Reserve keeps interest rates low in an effort to stimulate borrowing – Canada is likely to follow suit. That likelihood adds immediacy to potential homebuyers who will look to lock in mortgage rates while they're still low. Continue reading

Canadian mortgage rates continue to climb after Bernanke’s latest edict

With Canadian and American mortgage rates being closely linked, there is little surprise to be seen on the faces of Royal Bank of Canada and Scotiabank officials as the remarks of U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke spurred rates for a five-year closed mortgage to a level of 4.26 percent as detailed in the Epoch Times.

The Times' contributor Richard Kensington divulged "the Federal Open Markets Committee laid clear a path for higher interest rates in the U.S., which caused the 10-year treasury bond yield to hit 2.54 percent," causing a similar reaction in Canadian bond markets.

Special discounted rates to rise
The Southern Daily Press recently reported that "the Royal Bank of Canada and Scotiabank both announced increases to several mortgage packages, particularly those considered as 'special discounted rates.' Scotiabank's special discounted rates on two-year, four-year, seven-year and 10-year fixed-rate mortgages for residential properties all increased by 0.10 percent effective Sunday, June 22." Continue reading

Canada’s housing market to slowly rise by the end of 2013 and into 2014

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The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) said that the housing market will pick up momentum in the later part of this year and into 2014.

David George-Cosh said in a blog for The Wall Street Journal that if this prediction sounds familiar, it's because it's similar to the outlook of an agency report in February, but with revisions downward for 2013 and 2014.

What are the current predictions?
The CMHC now forecasts starts of 182,900 units this year, down from the first quarter unit estimate of 190,300. In 2014, housing starts are expected to be at 188,900 units. The CMHC predicts resales will be at 443,400 in 2013 and 468,600 in 2014. Continue reading

Five-year fixed-mortgage rates on the rise

Rates for five-year fixed-mortgages are climbing, effectively ending the trend of 3 percent five-year fixed-mortgage rates.

According to Move Smartly, last week five-year fixed-mortgage rates rose and then rose again. The increase is a lender reaction to the Government of Canada's (GoC) bond market. The GoC's five-year bond yields have, in the past seven weeks, increased by 66 basis points.

CBC News said that  bank's are seeing their borrower's rates go higher and are therefore increasing lending rates to offset the costs.

The increase in bond yields is due to three key points, according to Move Smartly. First, the willingness to pay for safety of GoC bonds was reduced and the bond yield rose from 1.15 percent to 1.44 percent from May 1, 2013 to June 6, 2013. Second, the Canadian job market spiked with almost 100,000 new jobs in May, causing bonds to surge 19 basis points. Lastly, the U.S. Federal Reserve announced it would begin to taper off its $85 billion per month program to purchase U.S. treasuries and mortgage backed securities.The U.S. Treasury yields will rise, so higher fixed-mortgage rates in Canada are inevitable because for the past five years GoC bond yields have had a 98 percent correlation with the U.S. Treasury. Continue reading