Offers/Contracts

Under Pressure: Will Some Sellers Benefit From The New Mortgage Stress-Test?

Will Some Sellers Benefit From The New Mortgage Stress-Test? Photo

Ever since the new mortgage rules were announced almost 2 weeks ago, I’ve been monitoring the Toronto MLS to see how many new listings hit the market and try to take advantage of the upcoming changes.

I found a few listings that explicitly highlight the impending rule changes in the “extras” section of the property description. Take a look at the screenshots below:

Under Pressure: Will Some Sellers Benefit From The New Mortgage Stress-Test? Photo

Under Pressure: Will Some Sellers Benefit From The New Mortgage Stress-Test? Photo

Whether or not prospective buyers will actually feel the pressure to make a move on either of these particular properties remains to be seen, but no doubt there are sellers out there who see a potential opportunity here.

I’ve already heard from a few seller clients of my own who are seriously considering bumping up their plans to list.

Instead of waiting until spring 2018 as previously planned, November 2017 has become a very attractive alternative.

While not every buyer needs to stress about the new stress-test (as I outlined in my blog post from last week), some will certainly be affected by the new rules. Specifically those who need to push their mortgage amount to the maximum.

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Who’s Actually Going To Be Affected By The New Mortgage Stress-Test?

Who's Actually Going To Be Affected By The New Mortgage Stress-Test? Photo

Since last week’s announcement by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) about the upcoming changes to the Canadian mortgage rules, I’ve seen plenty of buyers fret that their budgets are going to be reduced by as much as 20%.

This isn’t necessarily the case though, and not every buyer needs to stress about the new stress test. Let’s recap what sort of changes are coming once the new rules are implemented on January 1st, 2018.

The Biggest Change

Once the new rules come into play no-one will be able to qualify at less than the benchmark rate (which today is set at 4.89%). And in fact, borrowers with a down payment of more than 20% will have to qualify at either the benchmark rate or their contract rate + 2%, whichever is greater. So it’s quite possible that some borrowers will have to qualify at a rate that is greater than the current benchmark rate of 4.89%!

To give you some perspective: Since the last round of mortgage rule changes came into effect last year, only default-insured borrowers (these borrowers typically have a down payment of less than 20%) have had to qualify at the benchmark rate.

Borrowers with a down payment of more than 20% (and not default-insured) have had the benefit of only needing to qualify at their contract rate (which is typically less than the benchmark rate).

Come January 1st 2018 though, all borrowers, regardless of their down payment amount and regardless of whether or not their mortgage is default-insured, will have to qualify at the benchmark rate (or possibly higher).

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Multiple-Offers Are Still Very Much A Part Of The Toronto Real Estate Landscape

Multiple-Offers Are Still Very Much A Part Of The Toronto Real Estate Landscape Photo

We’re in the 2nd week of the fall real estate market now, and anyone who’s been following along knows that in the past 4.5 months (ever since the Liberals announced their “16-Point Fair Housing Plan16-Point Fair Housing Plan” in April) we’ve seen a decline in the number of sales and, perhaps more notably, a decline in average sale prices.

Q:  Do these declines mean that there’s now room for price negotiation on every single property that comes on the market?
A:  Nope.

In fact… plenty of houses are selling for 100% of the list price. And an even larger number of houses are selling for more than the list price!

Despite all the talk of a “buyer’s market”, there are still plenty of buyers out there willing to pay full price for the right property, or even compete with other buyers and pay more than the list price if need be.

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Buy In The Summer And Then Sell In The Fall?

Buy In The Summer And Then Sell In The Fall? Photo

“Should I stay or should I go?”

The classic 1982 Clash song (which I fondly remember being a highlight on the dancefloor at the Dance Cave, circa ’99-’01) is a fitting soundtrack for anyone considering a move in the current Toronto real estate market.

While buying is nowhere near as stressful as it was in the first four months of the year, selling is a different story. We’re in a transitioning market now and selling your home isn’t as simple a process these days.

This change in the market has many buyers and sellers confused about how to proceed.

I’ve got a number of clients right now who are hesitantly contemplating a “move-up” purchase into something larger than their current space.

While they’re tickled by the fact that they aren’t shopping for a home in the same feeding-frenzy market we saw in January – April, the prospect of having to sell their home in this more relaxed market has them second-guessing whether or not now is the right time to make a move.

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Point-By-Point: Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan

Ontario's Fair Housing Plan: Point-By-Point Photo

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Today, Premier Kathleen Wynne finally announced changes to real estate in Ontario in an attempt to increase supply and address affordability.

No doubt, there’s going to be some confusion about the effects of the changes. Keep in mind though, the fundamentals of a healthy market have not changed.

Take a look at the plan below, point-by-point. If you’ve got any questions just give me a shout.

There are 16 proposed measures:

  1. A 15-per-cent non-resident speculation tax to be imposed on buyers in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area who are not citizens, permanent residents or Canadian corporations.
  2. Expanded rent control that will apply to all private rental units in Ontario, including those built after 1991, which are currently excluded.
  3. Updates to the Residential Tenancies Act to include a standard lease agreement, tighter provisions for “landlord’s own use” evictions, and technical changes to the Landlord-Tenant Board meant to make the process fairer, as well as other changes.
  4. A program to leverage the value of surplus provincial land assets across the province to develop a mix of market-price housing and affordable housing.
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Deposit Cheque: Don’t Show Up Empty-Handed!

Deposit Cheque: Don't Show Up Empty-Handed! Photo

Early in my real estate career, I was working with a young couple looking to purchase a loft in the city’s west end.

Back then, just like now, most properties were receiving multiple offers and selling for above the asking price.

And just like now, listing agents were requesting that all potential buyers show up on the offer date with a certified deposit cheque in hand.

I don’t recall the specifics now, but on the first offer we did together those clients of mine were not able to obtain a deposit cheque prior to submitting the offer.

Of the five offers that were submitted that night, my clients had the highest price.

The property should’ve been theirs…

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It Sold For HOW Much? WTF!

I’ve been a realtor for over 10 years now, and I can honestly say that I’ve never seen as many WTF sale prices as I saw last week.

It’s not unusual for a house to sell for stupid money in this city (it is Toronto after all), but last week was notable because it happened so many times!

All over the city, almost every day, houses and condos were selling for unprecedented figures.

“Unprecedented” is the key word here, but I’m not sure it really does justice to what we saw last week.

A few examples…

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Four Major Changes To Canada’s Housing Rules

Four Major Changes To Canada's Housing Rules - Photo

If you haven’t already heard, the Canadian Department of Finance made an announcement earlier this month outlining a handful of changes that will have an impact on the mortgage/housing market.

The Globe & Mail followed the announcement pretty quickly with a detailed breakdown of all the changes, and how the affects might be felt.

Below is a reposting of that article in full. Enjoy!


From the Globe & Mail, on October 3rd, 2016:

Four Major Changes To Canada’s Housing Rules

The Liberal government has announced sweeping changes aimed at ensuring Canadians aren’t taking on bigger mortgages than they can afford in an era of historically low interest rates.

The changes are also meant to address concerns related to foreign buyers who buy and flip Canadian homes.

Below is a breakdown of the four major changes Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced Monday.

The current rules

Buyers with a down payment of at least 5 per cent of the purchase price but less than 20 per cent must be backed by mortgage insurance. This protects the lender in the event that the home buyer defaults. These loans are known as “high loan-to-value” or “high ratio” mortgages.

In situations in which the buyer has 20 per cent or more for a down payment, the lender or borrower could obtain “low-ratio” insurance that covers 100 per cent of the loan in the event of a default.

Mortgage insurance in Canada is backed by the federal government through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. Insurance is sold by the CMHC and two private insurers, Genworth Financial Mortgage Insurance Company Canada and Canada Guaranty Mortgage Insurance Company. The federal government backs the insurance offered by the two private-sector firms, subject to a 10-per-cent deductible.

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Is It A Bad Idea To List Immediately After Labour Day?

Is It A Bad Idea To List Immediately After Labour Day? Photo

Summer doesn’t officially end until the Autumnal Equinox in the 3rd week of September, but we all know it really ends the day after Labour Day.

Every year, the Tuesday after Labour Day sees the kids go back to school, the white clothes go back into the closet, and the real estate market come back to life after the August slow-down.

A whole slew of new listings hit the market during that first week after Labour Day, and plenty of eager sellers (and realtors) are excited to get the ball rolling.

In my opinion though, it’s a good idea to consider waiting until the following week to list your home for sale.

The goal is to expose the property to as many buyers as possible, but a good chunk of the buyer pool is distracted at this time of year.

There’s so much happening in people’s lives during that first week after Labour Day, that there’s a good chance many of the new listings are going to slip-by unnoticed.

  • People are busy getting back into the swing of things at work.
  • Anyone working in a seasonal industry is likely focused on transitioning over to their fall market.
  • People are coping with the fact that summer’s over and the cold & rainy weather is just around the corner (ugh).
  • And then of course there are the families that have small children…

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What A Difference A Season Makes

What A Difference A Season Makes Photo

More than once over the course of these past few months, I’ve seen a house come on the market and sell for significantly more than what it was unsuccessfully listed at back in the fall/winter.

You could argue that this makes sense – that in a rising market a house should sell for more now than it would’ve 6 months ago.

Maybe, maybe not. (More on that towards the end of this blog post).

Regardless, it’s interesting to see such a scenario play out in real time with one specific property.

Here’s a breakdown of what happened with one of the houses I’m referring to:

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