Canadian Housing Affordability Is Now Improving, After Years Of Deterioration

Good news, stressed-out, would-be homebuyers: You may not have to give up on your dream of owning a home in one of Canada’s pricey cities just yet.

For the first time in nearly three years, housing affordability in Canada is actually improving.

The National Bank of Canada’s home affordability measure fell 0.2 points in the fourth quarter of 2017, meaning that an average mortgage on a representative home was slightly cheaper than it was a quarter earlier.

That’s the first time that has happened since the second quarter of 2015, the bank said in a client note Thursday.

It’s largely thanks to two phenomena:

“The countrywide fourth-quarter wage growth of 5.7 per cent annualized was the strongest in more than three years,” National Bank economists Matthieu Arseneau and Kyle Dahms wrote.

How much of your income you need to spend to afford an average mortgage


They say this strong wage growth is going to have to keep going to keep affordability stable, because other factors are pushing housing costs upwards — namely, rising interest rates that have led to rising mortgage rates.

Mortgage rates have risen about 0.58 percentage points since the middle of 2017, Arseneau and Dahms said.

“The most expensive markets such as Toronto and Vancouver are the most sensitive to interest rate hikes,” they wrote.

“In Toronto, the rate rise combined with the tax on foreign purchases seems to have suppressed demand. Prices were down in Q4 and are likely to continue falling in 2018.”

Vancouver, they say, is “another story.” The city is less affordable today than at any other point since the early 1980s, having recovered solidly from the introduction of a foreign buyers’ tax in 2016.

But the new provincial budget, tabled this week, increased the foreign buyers’ tax to 20 per cent from 15 per cent, and introduced a speculators’ tax on properties owned by people who don’t live in British Columbia, assessed at two per cent of the home’s value.

The National Bank economists say that “is likely to lower prices in the Vancouver market in 2018.”

In other words, both Toronto and Vancouver have a good chance of becoming more affordable this year, assuming wages continue to grow.

And that may be the best news prospective homebuyers have gotten in quite a long time.

-Huffington Post

How to choose the right Agent Part 3 – Things you need know before you list your home

Over the last two days we have talked about your Realtors networks and Passive vs. Active Marketing but there are a few things that you should know about listing your home that will set you up for success when you are ready to put your house on the market!

  1. Neat and Tidy

We know that you love your home, and you might have kids and kids can be messy, or maybe you have pets and sometimes pets smell. Realtors have homes, with all of these same things, I promise we don’t all live in pristine real estate marvels, in fact if you walk into my house I can promise you will be tripped by a hockey stick or a dog toy, BUT I cannot emphasize this enough, your home needs to be spotless for photos and for showings. it sucks, we all know this, it is hard to keep your home in show home shape, but it will not sell if it isn’t. Try and have it “show home” clean when you have your Realtor interview so that they can get a clear picture of what your home looks like on its best day!

2. Listen to your Lister

You are obviously going to have a conversation with your Realtor about the listing price of your home. Realtors have tools that they use to identify what your home should be listed at, these tools (called CMA, which we will talk about in a later post) combined with a savvy understanding of the current market conditions your Realtor can usually pin point pretty close what your home should be listed at and ultimately what it should sell for. One fatal flaw in home owners is that they don’t listen to this number, typically because they think their house is worth more. Some Realtors will push back because of knowledge and expertise, some will take the listing at a higher price tag, simply to get your listing… when this happens you can find yourself in a vortex of price dropping and haggling with offers when and if they come in. If your home is priced right (not too high or too low) it will sell. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about list price, but ultimately if your Realtor has stats to back the price point… take their advice.

3. Clear the Clutter 

This is your home, of course you would have personal touches, nik naks and frames. maybe some crazy feature walls, or novelty rooster collections. We know you love these items, we do too. BUT potential buyers don’t. Most people when viewing a home cannot look past the esthetic and see true potential of their own items in a home, in fact they have the same problem with empty spaces. This is why a staged home will always sell faster 10/10 times. You can start this by packing up any personalized items and clutter. particularly toys, and collections, photos and other chachkeys that can be distracting for the potential buyer. Think of it as a head start on packing for your move out!

4. Be flexible and realistic

Thinking about upcoming showings can be overwhelming and daunting, but showings are good, they are the pass that takes you right to the touchdown, showings is where your offer will come from. The worst part; showings aren’t typically a 9:00-5:00 job. Now, this is still your home, you call the shots. It is really important that you are as flexible and realistic when setting schedules with your agent. If you have a 2 year old, maybe any showings after 7:00pm aren’t acceptable, maybe you need 24 hours notice before a showing, these are normal requests and completely acceptable! it is your home after all. Set clear expectations with your agent, but be mindful that if they call you and someone wants to see your house in the next 3 hours and you say no… that could have been the person who wanted to buy it.

5.  Be patient, and communicate 

If you have questions about your listing, the market, the last showing… the weather you need to know that you should be asking! Your agent should be keeping you informed about your listing, but if you’re not getting what you need, call them! Some agents even have review software that will generate feedback immediately following a showing, really good agents follow up with the buyers agent to try and close a deal, or at the very least find out why they didn’t choose your home, and the Great agents bring in their own buyers… from that network we talked about!

How to choose the right Agent Part 2 – Active Marketing

How important is marketing in Real Estate you ask? In short… it is incredibly important, in fact it can mean the difference between a sale and you sitting frustrated on your property for months, it can also be the difference in your listing becoming stale in the market because it sits for too long with little to no exposure.

I like to think that every Realtor has their own tips and tricks that they use to generate business, employ smart marketing techniques and do the very best for their client. The truth is, at the end of the day it breaks down to two types of agents. Active and Passive Marketers.

  • Passive Marketing

Every Realtor does this, and some pawn it off as highly effective marketing tools, but at the end of the day they are waiting for the business to find them. Waiting for the buyer to call. Passive marketing is listing the home on MLS, putting it on a website, (that may or may not generate google ad words). There is nothing wrong with passive marketing, and every Realtor should do it because there is always the online buyer who shops around and can and will find you on MLS, but it isn’t exceeding expectations and it isn’t going above and beyond.

  • Active Marketing 

Active marketing is when the rubber meets the road. We talked in my previous post about SELRES_9462f936-7d9e-4c3b-a82d-5fcb73a642d1NetworksSELRES_9462f936-7d9e-4c3b-a82d-5fcb73a642d1and this has a lot to do with that. Active marketing is when your Agent is actively searching the market for a buyer for your home. They can do this through their network, through lead capture services that they can deploy through various social media channels, and their website. Your Realtor should create a brand for your home. Does your Realtor use a professional photographer? are they a professional photographer? do they do home staging? what do they charge for home staging? All of these tools tie together and make your home sale something extra special, not just another MLS number on the proverbial YYC Real Estate shelf. Now, marketing costs money! The right kind of marketing costs lots of money! This is why you hire a Realtor, so you don’t have to navigate this alone. Always make sure to ask what the price tag is attached to any marketing plan when you are discussing commissions, offering photos and home staging is great, but ensure you know what that will cost you in the end. We will talk about where your money is going in a later post!

Kevin D’Costa Fun Fact! Did you know that I am an accredited staging professional RE. Did you also know that I offer this service to all of my clients? The best part, you rarely have to run out and buy thousands of dollars worth of furniture, usually just some minor esthetic and décor items are enough!

The point I am trying to make is this; When you’re interviewing a Realtor do not be afraid to ask them what exactly they are going to do for you? how are they going to market your home? Now that you know if you get the “I have a great webpage and I will list it on MLS” are the wrong answers, you can ask for more. expect more!

Canadian Home Sales Fall To Lowest Level In 3 Years: CREA

January activity was down in three-quarters of all local markets and virtually all major urban areas.

Canadian home sales fell 14.5 per cent between December and January, marking the lowest sales level in three years as the housing market was hit last month by a double whammy of tighter mortgage rules and lending rate hikes.

Data released by the Canadian Real Estate Association Thursday suggested that January activity was down in three-quarters of all local markets and virtually all major urban areas, especially in Ontario’s hot spot in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. The decline was less significant on an annual basis, with sales falling 2.4 per cent.

Sales climbed to a record monthly high in December, according to CREA’s figures, ahead of the stress test that requires all potential buyers qualifying for a mortgage to show that they can manage interest rate increases.

“The decline in January sales provides clear evidence that the strength in activity late last year reflected a pull-forward of transactions, as rational homebuyers hurried to purchase before mortgage rules changed in 2018,” said Gregory Klump, the association’s chief economist.

The federal banking regulator introduced tougher rules for uninsured mortgages beginning Jan. 1 that require a stress test for borrowers with a more than 20 per cent down payment. They now have to prove that they can service mortgage at a qualifying rate of the greater of the contractual mortgage rate plus two percentage point or the five-year benchmark rate published by the Bank of Canada.

The monthly decline “is largely payback” for buyers rushing to sign deals in the last three months of the year, ahead of the new rules, said Robert Kavcic, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, in a note.

January sales on par with 10-year monthly average

The January market also dampened due to the Bank of Canada’s decision to raise interest rates to 1.25 per cent, up from one per cent. It was the bank’s third increase since last summer, following hikes in July and September.

The central bank’s interest rate increase impacts variable rate mortgage holders, but those who opt for fixed mortgages also saw a rise in the five-year fixed rate amid rising bond yields and a stronger economy.

CREA noted that January home sales are on par with the 10-year monthly average and that a large decline in new listings prevented the market balance from shifting in favour of homebuyers. The average price of a home rose by 2.3 per cent when compared with last year at just over $481,500.

Interestingly, new listings plunged.

The national sales-to-new listings ratio was 63.6 per cent in January. A ratio reading above 60 per cent generally indicates a sellers’ market.

The number of newly-listed homes was at the lowest level since spring 2009. About 85 per cent of all markets had fewer listings. The Greater Toronto Area led the decline, with large percentage drops also in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and the Okanagan region, as well as parts of Ontario.

“Interestingly, new listings plunged,” Kavcic said, highlighting a 21.6 per cent drop in listings from December 2017 to January 2018 that he said allowed the market balance to tighten up at the national level.

The highly anticipated report confirmed expectations for how the market would react to the new mortgage rules, Michael Dolega, a senior economist with TD Economics, wrote in a note.

He expects some near-term volatility to continue as buyers and sellers absorb the fall out from the new rules and rising rates. But, Dolega said “some stabilization” should occur by the middle of the year.

“Thereafter we expect activity to remain weighed down by rising interest rates, but with markets largely in balanced territory prices should remain well supported,” he said.

The new mortgage rules created uncertainty and confusion for homebuyers, said CREA President Andrew Peck in a statement.

“At the same time, the changes do nothing to address government concerns about home prices that stem from an ongoing supply shortage in major markets like Vancouver and Toronto. Unless these supply shortages are addressed, concerns will persist.”

-Huffington Post

How to choose the right Agent Part 1 – What is in a Network

I have always received these questions, periodically, but lately it seems like almost daily I am asked “how do I choose the right realtor to sell my home”. I have always been an advocate of interviewing agents and ensuring that you have the right fit for you. You should never choose a Realtor without knowing and understanding how they are going to work for you! I am writing a part mini series that will include some insider tips on what to look for in a Realtor and very specific things to ask while you’re interviewing. Choosing someone to sell your home is a very important choice, I want to make sure you know what to look for!

A Realtors network is like a golden ticket. Most might think “The bigger the team and the fancier the website the quicker the sale” This isn’t necessarily true. Your realtor should have a network of potential buyers, sellers, Realtors, Mortgage professionals, lenders and brokers that work as a team to get the job done. Ask your Realtor about his or her professional network, you very well could be interviewing a Realtor that has a client just waiting to put an offer in on your home, they were simply waiting for that special something to come along. Real Estate professionals can’t work in silos, the biggest key to success in Real Estate is to have a respected group of people who you connect with regularly.

I recently did a study on first time home buyers in Alberta. 23% of those who responded said that they were not in the market to buy a home. The top reasons being 1. down payment and 2. Mortgage approval. As the study continued it became glaringly obvious that for MOST of this 23% home ownership was actually attainable, they simply were not educated or up to date on what options are available to them. My point here is this; Take **John and Susie for example. Looking for their dream home which is a 1200sq ft. front attached garage home in Windsong. They believed they would never qualify so they were waiting and saving… waiting… and saving. I had the opportunity to list a 1300sqft home in Windsong that would be PERFECT for this growing family. You guessed right… Because I have a trusted network of professionals we had their down payment sorted out, had them Mortgaged (with a pretty great rate to boot) and into this home. Their Mortgage payment is less than they were paying in rent and they OWN it! All of this they originally thought was unattainable. Now, This is a stellar example because Bob and Betty were able to sell their home before it even hit MLS for 24 hours and John and Susie were home owners, but not unrealistic with the right opportunity and the right network of Real Estate wizards working together! Every thing is impossible if you don’t try! Your Realtor should always try! with everything they have got! So when you’re interviewing, ask them this; “What does your professional network look like, and how are you going to step up to the plate for me?”

** Names and communities changed for privacy

Home prices rise on gains in Vancouver, Victoria

Canada’s housing market saw prices rise on a national basis in January, but the growth was almost entirely due to strength in Vancouver and Victoria.

The Teranet-National Bank National Composite House Price Index, which measures sale prices in 11 major markets, rose 0.3 per cent in January over December.

Teranet said the price bounce was not widespread, however, with only four markets climbing in January. Prices were buoyed largely by a 1.2-per-cent increase in the Vancouver region — which came on the heels of a 1.3-per-cent increase in December – and a 1-per-cent price increase in Victoria.

 National Bank economist Marc Pinsonneault said Vancouver drove the national index increase in January, with the region’s condo market up 23 per cent compared to January last year, while the index for all other types of homes rose 13.5 per cent over the past year.

“Without Vancouver, the composite index would have retreated for a fifth month in a row,” Mr. Pinsonneault said in a research note.

Prices rose a marginal 0.2 per cent in the Toronto region in January over December, which was the first increase in the index in six months.

The index is a rolling three-month average to smooth out monthly fluctuations. On an unsmoothed basis, the Toronto region has now seen three months of price increases, Teranet said.

Mr. Pinsonneault said some of the recent growth in Toronto may have come from a rush to purchase before tough new mortgage qualification stress test rules took effect Jan. 1.

He said there are also still mortgage rate increases to come this year, so “it is premature to conclude that home prices have definitely turned the corner in Toronto.”

The Teranet index edged up 0.1 per cent in Montreal in January, while all other cities saw prices decline on a month-over-month basis. The biggest declines were see in Quebec City, which was down 2 per cent over December, and in Winnipeg, where the index fell 1.1 per cent over December.

-Globe & Mail


Change is good

Loyal followers, clients and friends. As some of you may have noticed, change is in the air! With a new year, brings new challenges and opportunities. Being a successful Realtor is one of my life’s greatest accomplishments, mostly because of the connections I make, relationships I foster and dreams I help make a reality the moment I hand over the keys to what is likely your greatest investment. your home. I have worked at CIR as a realtor for nearly a decade, growing my business and taking full advantage of the opportunities that were presented to me. I have nothing but respect, and admiration for the brokerage that helped to build my career. Those who know me best know that my ambitions are great, and I have to consistently set new goals. Professionally I have decided to move my business under a new roof with Re/max First. A reputable and respected brokerage that can offer me international exposure under the Re/max brand. My excitement is palpable, and I am thrilled to get my new signs up on some lawns in the coming weeks.

I have taken January to rebuild my brand, be mindful of my decision, and ignite the fire inside me that is going to kill it in this Calgary Real Estate Market for 2018. You will see me donning the Blue and Red. Nothing more has changed but that. My clients can rely on the same honest, patient and loyal service you have all grown to refer and respect!

Onward and Upward!

  • Special thanks to Dave Anderson and the team at CIR, you have been a great leader and a tremendous support throughout my transition
  • Special Thanks to Rick Campos, Cliff Stevenson the team at Re/max First who have welcomed me, and supported my business.


Kevin D’Costa 

20% more mortgages are being denied by big banks, sending borrowers down the credit ladder

Mortgage brokers say the borrower rejection rate from large banks and traditional monoline mortgage lenders has gone up as much as 20 per cent after Canada’s banking regulator imposed a new stress test for home buyers who don’t need mortgage insurance.

As a result, alternative lenders are seeing an uptick in business as brokers increasingly direct home buyers toward borrowing options that are beyond the reach of the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions’ newly enacted tighter lending requirements.

Clients who don’t meet the bar are turning to private lenders, mortgage investment corporations (MICs) and credit unions, which are provincially regulated and not required to implement the stress test, said Carmen Campagnaro, president of Pro Funds Mortgages in Burlington, Ont.

Campagnaro is one of the brokers who said rejected loan applications to traditional lenders have risen by 20 per cent since Jan.1, when OSFI mandated a new stress test for uninsured borrowers, or those who have more than a 20 per cent down payment.

Private lender Fisgard Asset Management Corporation in Victoria is seeing an influx of borrowers and “better quality business” said Hali Noble, its senior vice president of residential mortgage investments and broker relations.

“A lot of these people should be bankable,” said Noble. “But they’re not.”

The guidelines, known as B20, are aimed at curbing risky lending amid rising household indebtedness and high home prices in some markets.

In order to get a loan from a federally regulated lender, home buyers have to prove that they can service their uninsured mortgage at a qualifying rate of the greater of the contractual mortgage rate plus two percentage point or the five-year benchmark rate published by the Bank of Canada. An existing stress test already requires those with insured mortgages to qualify at the Bank of Canada benchmark five-year mortgage rule.

Superintendent Jeremy Rudin has said OSFI is aware the stricter rules could have unintended consequences, such as sending borrowers towards more risky lenders that are out of the regulator’s purview.

“We can’t control what we can’t control,” he said in October.

“Our mandate is focused on the safety and soundness of the federally regulated institutions… It isn’t something that we favour but it isn’t something that we have an authority to prevent.”

Since the revised mortgage guidelines came into force, both the Bank of Canada of rate and benchmark rate has risen, dealing a “double extra whammy” to borrowers, said Dave Teixeira, vice president of operations, public relations and communications for Dominion Lending Centres.

Dominion mortgage brokers are seeing a higher rate of rejection and clients have to submit multiple applications to various institutions before finding a lender that works, he added.

In turn, their brokers are submitting 80 per cent more applications than last year, Teixeira said.

“Normally, we would see our volume going to the big banks and monolines, and now we’re seeing a little bit more of that, roughly up to 20 per cent… moving over to credit unions.”

However, some credit unions have voluntarily implemented the new stress test or tightened their own requirements.

Quebec credit union Desjardins Group has been applying OSFI’s new mortgage rules in full since Jan. 1.

“We believe it represents an effective way to protect consumers against interest rates variations,” said Desjardins spokeswoman Valerie Lamarre.

Vancouver-based Vancity Credit Union has voluntarily increased the stress test its members must meet to qualify for a mortgage.

Rick Sielski, Vancity’s senior vice president of risk, would not disclose the mechanics of the stress test and said it was too early to gauge the impact of the new guidelines.

“What we’re really trying to do is make sure we’re serving our market, serving our members in a responsible way,” he said.

The higher bar for borrowers is also shifting business to riskier lenders.

Harold Gerstel, better known as Harold the Mortgage Closer from his television ads, said his Toronto-based mortgage arm is seeing an influx as well.

“We’re definitely getting more business. Whether it’s a substantial change, it’s too early to tell,” he said.

The new rules are sending better quality demand down the credit line, said Robert McLister, a mortgage planner at IntelliMortgage and the founder of

“The demand is shifting down the ladder, so you have these less regulated lenders with higher risk tolerance now seeing materially more business. And they can charge more, and they can be pickier with the types of borrowers that they lend to.”

-Calgary Herald

CREB Housing Market

Housing Market Déjà Vu in January

As expected, Calgary sales activity similar to last year

Calgary, Feb. 1, 2018 – The new year opened predictably, with monthly figures close to the Januarys of the past three years.

With new mortgage rules and rates officially in effect, sales activity in January remained comparable to last year, as rising sales for attached properties were not enough to offset declines in both the apartment and detached sector.

Overall January sales totaled 958 units, nearly two per cent above last year and 11 per cent below long-term averages.

“2018 was kicked off with higher rates and the official implementation of the new mortgage requirements. While it is too early to see the impact of these changes, so far, January levels are consistent with what we saw last year,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.

“The recovery will be bumpy, and we will continue to monitor the impact of the lending changes relative to the overall economic climate.”

Stable sales were met with rising new listings, causing further gains in inventory levels and impacting prices. Citywide, unadjusted prices totaled $432,300, 0.21 per cent below last month and 0.25 per cent below last year’s figures. Prices eased across all product types compared to last month, but price declines were more pronounced in the apartment and attached sectors.

In the detached sector, new listings rose with declining sales activity for product priced over $500,000. However, product priced between $300,000 and $399,999 saw an increase in activity. This will be an adjustment to the new reality buyers and sellers face, as pockets of the market will experience a mismatch between supply and demand.

“Sellers needs to be aware of the competing supply in the market. This can influence the timing of their decision, along with setting realistic expectations regarding time on the market and selling price,” said 2018 CREB® president Tom Westcott. “For buyers, getting pre-approved for a mortgage is essential, along with getting advice from a REALTOR® to get into a home they will be happy with.