This Month in Real_Estate Newsletter for Canada – September 2010
Canada’s housing market is back in balance with home sales and prices, continuing to fall back in line with historical trends. The outlook for the Canadian economy, employment, and mortgage market remains positive, but tempered from earlier this year.
Canada will continue to be somewhat susceptible to global economic movements, and the Bank of Canada intends to monitor this closely as it makes further decisions about interest rate increases. Because the normalizing of the housing market has quelled fears of a housing bubble, some experts believe the Bank could be less likely to continue rate hikes.
The strong fundamentals of the financial system continue to bode well for the future. The Royal Bank of Canada was honored with a spot in the Top 10 safest banks in the world, while 6 Canadian banks made the Top 10 list for North America.
Overall, the outlook remains cautiously optimistic, but it is widely recognized that the Canadian economy remains strong, resilient, and stable compared to other major economies.
Existing home sales activity totaled 31,536 units in June, down 6.8% from the previous month, as sales trend back toward the 20-year average. Experts consider this departure from the seasonal norm to be due in large part to the effects of changes to mortgage regulations and rising interest rates, which caused buyers to act in April when they would have otherwise done so at a later date.
Average Home Price
The national average home price slid 3.6% to $330,351 in June from a month earlier, but still remains 1.1% above year-ago levels. Now that home prices have fallen back in line with 30-year historic appreciation, economists and industry experts expect prices to increase at a slower rate as the market balances.
The new supply of homes continues to mirror the number of buyers in the market. This balance of supply and demand provides an environment suited for home price stability. The market is solidly back in balanced territory as seen by sales-to-new listings ratios close to 50% for the past four months. This is a good indicator for a sustainable housing market.
Average for: 25-Year Amortization, 5-Year Term
Mortgage rates fell to 5.39% for the month of August from 5.79% in July. Aside from February, which was the last time the interest rate hit 5.39%, this was the lowest since May 2009. Low rates provide an excellent opportunity for savings on monthly payments – every 1% change in interest has the same effect on monthly payments as a 10% change in price on a 30-year amortizing loan. As recovery gains a firmer footing, rates continue to be expected to increase in order to keep inflation in check
Sources: Conference Board, The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), Royal Bank of Canada, Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Bank of Canada
Canadians Purchase Most U.S. Property
Last year, Canadians purchased more property in the United States than residents of any other country. Of all the property purchased by non-U.S. citizens, Canada weighed in at 23%, followed by Mexico at 10% and the United Kingdom at 9%. China and Germany followed closely behind.
Given the strong Canadian currency, the low interest rates, and the reduced home prices in some of the sunniest and warmest winter states it’s understandable why. Some of the warmest states; including Florida, Arizona, and California; also have higher levels of distressed properties, which could mean further savings for savvy buyers.
The following are a few things to keep in mind for those who decide to spend substantial time south of the border:
1. Taxes. If you spend more than 4 months in the United States each year, you might be considered a citizen for tax purposes. Fill out an IRS Form 8840 to let the U.S. government know you are a Canadian citizen.
2.Automatic Payments. Set up automatic payments for bills while you’re gone. Make sure your driver’s license and insurance will not expire while you’re away.
3.Health Insurance. Not having health insurance while in the United States could cost you serious money. Plan ahead and secure insurance before heading south.
How Homeowners Compare
According to a survey sponsored by Genworth Financial Mortgage Insurance Company, homeowners are the most financially fit. The following are some of the key findings:
•65% paid off their credit card balances every month; that’s 12% more than non-homeowners
•25% have made additional payments on their mortgages in the past year
•44% of homeowners were able to save some money after paying their monthly bills
•About half of homeowners surveyed made down payments of 20% or more
•13% said they are in “great” financial shape
•Compared to the same survey 3 years ago when the economy was booming, there was a 5% increase in those who say their financial fitness is good
Sources: REMonline, newswire.com
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