The Loonie is the lowest it has been in 15 years, a barrel of gas is trading for less than $30 -- compare these factors against the rising U.S. greenback and you get one gloomy economic forecast. However, there is one section of our economy that seems to be unaffected, as real estate is showing little signs of slowing down.
On Feb. 15, 2016, Canada's new mortgage rules kick in, mandating higher minimum down payments for homes priced higher than $500,000. But if you're planning to buy a home for less than that figure, you're in luck -- there's plenty of hot markets across Canada with average home prices of less than $500,000.
Newly appointed Finance Minister Bill Morneau grabbed lots of headlines last week with the announcement that the Liberal government was imposing more stringent down payment requirements for buying a home. The move is meant to take the air out of the still-hot housing markets of Toronto and Vancouver, and it may well do that.
The belief that people are trapped in their first home due to lack of available options in Vancouver just isn't true. The benchmark prices for condos and townhomes here are now rising at the same rate, after years of plateau. Fears of not being able to move up to a larger condo or townhouse are unfounded.
Warnings of a housing correction are not new, but the frequency has increased. A couple of southwestern Ontario markets (most notably Toronto) and the Vancouver metro area are pricing out first-time buyers. In other major centres across Canada, the flatness or slowing of house price appreciation has dissuaded potential buyers from jumping in.
Do buyers in the GTA housing market have unrealistic expectations? What is fair when it comes to affordability? I remain convinced that a single-detached home will remain beyond the reach of most people in Toronto, simply due to market fundamentals -- so we'll all have to readjust our expectations. This is where we have a problem. If people are not willing to settle on the type of residence (i.e. condo vs. single-family) or the unit size, prospective buyers are going to really feel the sting of unaffordability.
This year promises to be particularly exciting for real estate investors. For the first time in many years, we may actually see the interest rates creep up from their historical lows. The head of the US Federal Reserve, Ms. Janet Yellen, indicated on numerous occasions that the rates would go up incrementally as their quantitative easing was coming to an end.