Bank of Canada – Hints at Longer Wait for Rate Hike

The Mortgage Emporium – Mortgage Brokers Ottawa

In a move anticipated by most analysts, The Bank of Canada announced today that the overnight rate will remain at 1 per cent target, suggesting it – along with variable rates — won’t rise anytime soon.

The Bank cited “weaker business investment and exports” as a one reason the rate remained the same, along with a pullback in household spending, the European recession, slow but gradual recovery in the U.S and muted inflation.

“Reflecting all of these factors, the Bank has decided to maintain the target for the overnight rate at 1 per cent,” the bank said in a statement. “While some modest withdrawal of monetary policy stimulus will likely be required over time, consistent with achieving the two per cent inflation target, the more muted inflation outlook and the beginnings of a more constructive evolution of imbalances in the household sector suggests that the timing of any such withdrawal is less imminent than previously anticipated.”

Governor Mark Carney’s commentary hinted that no rate hike is in the cards in the near future, but according to Jimmy Jean, economic strategist at Desjardins, his painting of lower interest rates as desirable came as a shock.

“It’s a surprise,” he said, “It has more dovish content than what we were anticipating. The forecast adjustments were pretty much in line with what we were expecting. The language is really where the surprise comes from. We still don’t think we’re likely to see any move (on interest rates) in 2013.”

The announcement likely doesn’t come as a shock to brokers who have been monitoring the rate.

Short-term mortgage rates are unlikely to rise anytime soon, but overall rates are not expected to fall.

The economy slowed more than anticipated in the latter half of 2012, falling below the projections outlined by the Bank in the Monetary Policy Report (MPR) released in October, and is expected to continue at a “restrained” pace until the second half of 2014. The Bank revisited earlier projections for 2013, revising the 2.3 per cent growth estimate to 2 per cent.
carney is expected to address new numbers later today at a press conference alongside Bank of

Canada Senior Deputy Governor Tiff Macklem. The Bank will announce the overnight rate target again on March 6, and provide a fully updated outlook for the economy and inflation in the new MPR released April 17, 2013.

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By Jemima Codrington

Canada’s Waning Growth Puts Balanced Budget at Risk

Theophilos Argitis, Bloomberg News | Jan 21, 2013 1:46 PM ET
More from Bloomberg News

The Mortgage Emporium – Ottawa Mortgage

Aaron Vincent Elkaim/The Canadian PressBudget planners are concerned that weaker revenue may outpace Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s ability to offset it through accelerated spending cuts.

Canada’s revenue outlook has deteriorated since Finance Minister Jim Flaherty updated his fiscal plan in November amid signs the economy has slowed, making it more difficult to bring the budget into balance, a person with direct knowledge of the government’s budget planning said.

Budget planners are concerned that weaker revenue may outpace Flaherty’s ability to offset it through accelerated spending cuts, especially since the government pledged not to curb transfers to individuals and provinces, the person said on condition they not be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak to the media on the subject. Still, the goal remains to balance the budget by 2015, the person said.

Tax revenues are just not going to be maintaining the pace you would have expected just six months ago

Canada’s economy probably had its worst six-month performance since the end of the 2009 recession in the second half of last year, as exports fell and uncertainty about the global expansion prompted businesses to curb spending, leading economists to scale back their expectations for 2013.

“Tax revenues are just not going to be maintaining the pace you would have expected just six months ago,” said David Watt, chief economist at HSBC Bank Canada.

Flaherty, seeking to return the country to surpluses while ensuring the economy isn’t hurt by fiscal tightening, already scaled back revenue projections in a November budget update by $7-billion for the next fiscal year and by $36-billion over five years, citing lower commodity prices.

Optimistic Forecast

In that update, growth projections for 2013 were cut to 2% from a March forecast of 2.4% when the budget for the fiscal year beginning in April was released. That 2% now looks optimistic.

Slower growth will sap $22-billion a year from Canada’s economy, budget watchdog warns

Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page says in a new report that he anticipates economic growth will brake to an annual rate of 1.6% in the second half of this year, after slowing to 1.8% in the first half.

Read full story here.

Growth in 2013 will probably be closer to 1.7%, according to the median of the forecasts of economists at six Canadian banks: Toronto-Dominion Bank, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Bank of Nova Scotia, BMO Capital Markets, Royal Bank of Canada and HSBC Canada.

A 0.3 percentage-point reduction in 2013 growth projections may create an additional budget shortfall of more than $1-billion in the next fiscal year and almost $4-billion over three years, according to Bloomberg calculations based on a formula provided by the finance department in its last update. A one-year 1 percentage-point reduction in growth narrows the budget balance by $3.9-billion in the first year and $12.8-billion over three years, according to that formula.

“Growth has not been as firm as they had been expecting,” Watt said. “As a result, the fiscal situation has been a bit more of a challenge.”

Budget Balance

Flaherty has said he will balance the budget before the next federal election, expected in 2015, by cutting departmental expenses and forgoing new spending. A government pledge not to raise taxes or cut transfers to individuals and provinces is handcuffing the government’s ability to meet that goal as revenue wanes.

Direct program spending, which excludes transfers and makes up just under 50% of federal government spending, is projected to decline to $118.9-billion in the fiscal year that begins April 1, down from $120.8-billion projected in the 2012-13 fiscal year, then remain little changed through 2017, according to the November fiscal update. As a share of GDP, direct program expenses will decline to 5.4% by 2017, the lowest since at least 1967, from 6.7% this year.

The finance department also scaled back its revenue assumptions in the update, after final figures for the fiscal 2011-12 showed the government’s revenue as a share of the economy shrank to its lowest in at least 45 years.

Canada now projects total tax revenue as a share of GDP will average 14.3% over the next five years, ranging from 14% in the current year to as high as 14.4% in 2015. That ratio has averaged about 15.5% over the previous 10 years.

Bloomberg

Jim Flaherty on home sales dive: ‘I don’t mind prices coming down a bit, too’

TARA PERKINS AND SEAN SILCOFF
TORONTO/OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Jan. 15 2013, 11:25 AM EST
The way Jim Flaherty sees it, his July changes to Canada’s mortgage rules are having the desired effect on the housing market.
“Well, yeah,” the finance minister told The Globe and Mail. “I don’t mind prices coming down a bit, too.”
Mr. Flaherty’s comments Tuesday followed new numbers showing Canadian home sales posted their fastest year-over-year decline in December since he tightened mortgage rules in July.
Sales of existing homes over the Multiple Listing Service fell 17.4 per cent in December from a year earlier, and were down 0.5 per cent from November, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.
The MLS Home Price Index, which seeks to factor out changes in the types of homes being sold to get an indication of underlying prices, rose 3.3 per cent from a year earlier. That’s the slowest growth since April of last year.
“Successive rounds of tightening mortgage regulations have kept the housing market in check during what has become an extended low interest rate environment,” said CREA chief economist Gregory Klump.
Having said that, the impact of the new rules are probably fully priced into the market now, said Toronto-Dominion Bank senior economist Sonya Gulati.
Economists at TD went through the data last year in an attempt to quantify just how much of an impact Mr. Flaherty’s four rounds of rule tightening were having.
In a report in September, they concluded that the changes had a significant permanent drop in housing demand, but “while home prices took an immediate hit following the rule changes, they bounced back within two or three quarters and continued to grow faster than underlying economic fundamentals.”
Blame interest rates.
Now, “with the whopping 17.4 per cent year-over-year change in sales seen in December, we suspect that the impacts from the mortgage rule tightening in July are now fully priced in,” Ms. Gulati said Tuesday. “We expect the Canadian housing market to stabilize at current levels over the next few months.”
Indeed, Royal Bank of Canada economist Robert Hogue pointed out that listings declined by more than sales in December, and that should lend some support to prices now. The number of newly listed homes fell 1.3 per cent from November.
The MLS Home Price Index has been declining for six months on a month-over-month basis, and there have been fears that those declines will accelerate.
“But now if supply is adjusting to the lower demand, this may guard against this acceleration of the decline,” Mr. Hogue said in an interview.
He has been of the opinion that the impact of Mr. Flaherty’s latest round of rule changes, which included cutting the maximum length of insured mortgages to 25 years from 30, would only be temporary.
“We’ll get the answer in the coming months,” he said.
And if the sharp declines in year-over-year sales end, and sales flatten out or even pick up a bit, the measures will have run their course, he said.
Ms. Gulati said the sales-to-listings ratio and the number of months of unsold inventory are well within the normal range.
“However, when we compare prices to other standard metrics like price-to-income, we still believe that prices have deviated from underlying economic fundamentals,” she said. “With this in mind, house prices will likely resume their trek downwards once higher interest rates come into effect in the fourth quarter of 2013.”

Why more home sellers are listing in January

Michael Stuparyk/Toronto Star file photo
By Mark Weisleder | Fri Jan 11 2013 http://www.moneyville.ca/article/1313605–why-more-home-sellers-are-listing-in-january
Traditionally, January is a slow month for real estate as most sellers choose to wait until the middle of February in the hopes of capitalizing on the early spring market. However, given the uncertainty in the housing market right now, more sellers are opting to put their house on the market in January.
This presents an opportunity for buyers. Most people are reluctant to uproot their families during the school year, so that means less competition — and fewer bidding wars. Lenders will not be as busy, so buyers can expect a more efficient process to get approved for a mortgage to ensure they have financing in place before making an offer.
But there are things you simply won’t be able to inspect during the winter. Here are some tips for protecting yourself when making a deal during the winter months:
Sellers
Spruce up the outside: Use urns with light wood branches to brighten up the exterior of your home, to compensate for any overcast day or snow on the ground.
Get rid of the Christmas lights: homes that look dated on the outside give the impression that they are probably dated on the inside.
Make sure your fireplace is working during any showing, that the temperature is comfortable in the home and that any interior lighting compensates for what is usually grey lighting from outside.
Have pictures of your landscaping available from the summer and autumn, showing how beautiful your home looks year round.
Have available any inspections that you may have done on your air-conditioning unit or swimming pool before they were closed for the winter, as buyers will likely not be able to conduct inspections on these items and will have questions.
Consider inviting a company to do an environmental audit on your home in advance, confirming that there is no moisture behind the walls that could lead to mould and that you have sufficient insulation behind the walls.
Buyers
If there is anything that cannot be inspected because of the winter, such as the air-conditioning system or any swimming pool, then negotiate an extended warranty in the agreement, to give you until at least May 1, to inspect and have the seller be responsible for any damages. In addition, also negotiate a holdback of, say, $2,000 so that if a problem arises, the money comes out of that fund to fix it and you don’t have to chase the seller in court later.
Be careful about snow accumulating around the base of the home. It will be difficult for a home inspector to figure out whether the grading is likely to cause water problems in the basement later. Consider doing your own environmental audit to check for moisture behind any walls.
If the snow on the roof looks like it is evaporating faster than the snow around the house, it is likely a sign that there is not enough insulation in the home.
Check with your insurance company early as to whether you will have any difficulty obtaining insurance on the home; for example, by finding out whether there have been claims made in the neighbourhood about water damages or sewage backups.
Check whether snow accumulation makes it more difficult for street parking, as this may be the only parking available on certain streets. Also see how bad weather may affect your morning commute.
Check the last electric/gas bills, to determine how energy efficient the home is in winter.
People tend to hibernate and stay at home in the winter, so take the opportunity to get to know the neighbours before you finalize your purchase.
By being properly prepared in advance, buyers and sellers can negotiate a safe and successful winter home sale.

Canada’s housing market set for soft landing: Scotiabank

Melissa Leong – Canada’s cooling housing market has made a soft landing with steady sales and pricing through the fall, providing further evidence of an expected gradual decrease rather than a U.S.-style housing market crash, according to a report released Tuesday.
“Canada’s national housing market is shifting toward a more sustainable path, though significant differences in regional conditions continue,” Adrienne Warren, Scotiabank’s senior economist, said in the report entitled Global Real Estate Trends.
Housing demand is expected to be soft which could lower sales and home prices, especially in buyers’ markets such as Vancouver or where there is over supply such as the condominium market in Toronto, it added.
“However, with the Canadian economy continuing to post healthy job growth, and sellers proving responsive to the underlying shift in market conditions, a sharp decline in prices nationally is unlikely.”
Despite an “orderly slowdown,” there are still risks, Ms. Warren cautioned.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty out there in terms of the global economic outlook, whether it’s the U.S. fiscal cliff or the eurozone problems, that can have a significant impact on the Canadian economy and Canadian hiring in 2013,” she said in an interview.
As well, even a soft landing has serious implications for the Canadian economy.
“A lot of activity in recent years, especially Canada’s relative outperformance to other economies, is attributable to the strength of the housing market. It’s generated jobs, a lot of retail spending. We see broad housing investment being a drag on the overall economy.”
Nationally, sales in October were down about 10% from strong spring levels, but only slightly below the average pace of the past decade. Home sales in Alberta and Saskatchewan have increased this year, supported by stronger economic and labour market performance; in contrast in B.C., which faces the greatest housing affordability challenges, sales have dropped about 10% this year, the report said.
Housing starts in 2013 are forecast to drop to around 180,000 units, down from an estimated 215,000 units this year.
Canada’s housing market has been slowing since the spring after years of red-hot growth that sparked debate about a bubble. The market boomed as historically-low interest rates fuelled purchases, driving up prices and adding to household debt. The high and rising home prices combined with the tightening of mortgage insurance rules in recent years have made houses less affordably, notably for first-time buyers.
Meanwhile globally, the report revealed that despite falling housing prices in the advanced and emerging nations that Scotiabank track, there are signs of stabilization in the U.S., the U.K. Australia and China. In the U.S., real home prices rose 5% year-over-year in the third quarter, though average prices remain about 30% lower than their 2005 peak.
Canadians are contributing to the recovery south of the border: in the 12 months to March 2012, foreign purchases of U.S. homes jumped 24%, representing almost 5% of all transactions and Canadians made up 24% of all international buyers.

CIBC report confirms FirstLine revenue slide

CIBC’s annual report is now pegging a dollar figure to the closure of FirstLine, the move appearing to cost the bank $20 million in revenue for fiscal 2012.

That number is in the finest of print in its annual report, released this week.

“Other was down $20 million or 5 per cent, primarily due to lower revenue relating to FirstLine mortgages,” reads the report, referencing the reclassification of revenue from FirstLine into the “other” category.

The revenue slide is likely the result of two factors – the declining number of deals brokers sent FirstLine during its final days and CIBC’s decision to shutdown the broker lender just before the final quarter.

The report doesn’t specifically itemize originations for the year nor offer CIBC projections for just how much of FirstLine renewals it expects to convert to CIBC branded mortgages.

That switch is very much part of the plan, with the report reiterating the bank’s desire to bring those clients into the CIBC branch family for cross-selling opportunities.

“We exited the FirstLine mortgage broker channel and are renewing FirstLine clients into CIBC branded mortgages where we have the opportunity to cross-sell and deepen client relationships,” states the report.

Brokers are now focused on stymieing those plans, if renewal through CIBC isn’t best for the client, one industry veteran told MortgageBrokerNews.ca.

Traders to look to Bank of Canada rate announcement

TORONTO — The Bank of Canada is expected to announce this week that it is  leaving interest rates unchanged and continue to give the impression that it’s  in no rush to move them off ultra-low levels.

No surprises are expected Tuesday with economists confident the central bank  will continue to keep its key interest rate unchanged at one per cent. And the  bank will likely leave the language in the announcement largely unchanged,  indicating that a hike in rates is still far away amid worsening economic  conditions around the globe.

Doug Porter, deputy chief economist at BMO Capital Markets, doesn’t see the  bank hiking rates until at least a year from now and adds that the risk is the  bank may take even longer to hike rates.

“It’s very difficult to see the bank raising rates before then. Growth is  struggling to hit two per cent, inflation is struggling to stay above one per  cent, the currency remains doggedly above parity, there’s no obvious reason for  the bank to be raising rates in that environment for quite some time.”

The latest indication of weakness came on Friday when Statistics Canada  reported there was no growth in gross domestic product during September  following a 0.1 per cent dip during August.

That translated into third-quarter economic growth of 0.6 per cent on an  annualized basis, versus expectations of 0.8 per cent growth as exports  registered their worst decline in three years.

There will likely be another reading of weak growth Friday when the agency  releases the November employment report.

“I think we will be fortunate to see any job growth in November,” said  Porter.

“We are seeing moderate job growth, just enough to keep the unemployment  rate flat over the last year and I think that could be the story going into the  next 12 months … that we get just enough job growth to keep unemployment from  rising but I think at this stage of the cycle we would do very well to do better  than that.”

U.S. jobs data also comes out Friday and expectations are fairly muted,  largely because of the impact of superstorm Sandy in the northeast.

“We’re looking for a gain of just a bit more than 100,000 in overall  employment, which is a bit of a step back from what we saw in October,” said  Porter, who thinks job gains would be in the neighbourhood of 200,000 had it not  been for Sandy.

The storm affected 24 states, with the most severe damage in New York and  New Jersey as business was severely curtailed.

On a more positive note, the December number will look quite good because  November figures could be adjusted upward.

Meanwhile, it’s the fear of worsening economies that is expected to produce  another volatile week on stock markets as traders look for some progress in  avoiding a serious budget impasse in the U.S. that could result in steep tax  increases and significant spending cuts at the start of 2013.

This is the fiscal cliff scenario and the worry is that those cuts and hikes  would shock the U.S. economy back into recession.

The TSX and the Dow Jones ended last week essentially flat with markets  whipsawed between positive and negative territory during the sessions, often  depending on the latest take on fiscal cliff talks offered by a prominent  Republican or Democrat.

But the market has avoided going into selloff mode as traders believe that  the two sides will come together on an agreement that would at least be a  framework for arriving at a complete deal later in the winter.

“We are confident they will work out a deal, (but) the history of this kind  of negotiation has been taken right up until late in the 11th hour,” observed  Porter.

“Unfortunately, I think that that will mean a bit of drama for financial  markets before we’re through all that.”

President Barack Obama is insisting on higher taxes for the top two per cent  of earners.

Republicans have said they are open to new tax revenue but not higher  rates.

Read more: http://www.cp24.com/news/traders-to-look-to-bank-of-canada-rate-announcement-1.1062472#ixzz2E0LQq5vs

The hidden costs of home ownership

The hidden costs of home ownership

By Gail Johnson

Kelly Gardiner In his three decades as a real-estate agent in North Vancouver, B.C., Kelly Gardiner has seen a lot of different reactions from people buying
a house for the first time
. Usually, they’re excited, nervous and
overwhelmed. But there’s another feeling that sometimes pops up — utter shock
— not from the purchase itself, but because of all the associated costs people
never even thought of.

“For people who haven’t moved that often, a lot of expenses
can come as a surprise
,” Gardiner says. “Or they’re so focused on
just signing the papers that they never stop to think about everything that’s
involved in owning a home and moving into one.”

So, if owning property is a new endeavour, here are some of the hidden costs to budget for
before you close the deal:

Legal fees

Fees and disbursements usually cost around $1,000. You can hire a lawyer or a notary, but
it’s best to deal with someone who specializes in real-estate transactions.

Property transfer tax

This land-registration tax must be paid when you register changes to a certificate
of title at the land title office. It varies from province to province. In
B.C., for example, the tax is 1 per cent on the first $200,000 and 2 per cent
on the balance.

Provincial sales tax

Again, this amount varies across the country, but is charged on new condos, townhouses and homes. For example, new homes or properties that have undergone a substantial
renovation, are subject to 13 per cent HST in Ontario. For a home with a
purchase price of $310,000, you’ll be required to pay $40,300 in HST. Ouch!
But, depending on the purchase price of your home, buyers may be eligible for a
new home rebate, which will help to alleviate some, or all, of the HST sticker shock.

Home inspection

You can spend anywhere from approximately $200 to close to $1,000 for a qualified
inspector
to see what’s lurking behind the cosmetic upgrades. Find an
inspector with a solid reputation and have them spell out exactly what services
they’ll provide. (ie: some inspectors offer a checklist; others take photos and
provide a detailed report). It’s best not to skimp on this one.

Land survey

Most mortgage lenders will require a survey of the property done by an accredited land
surveyor to determine whether the home sits within its specified legal
boundaries and complies with local bylaws. This usually costs about $500 but
can be much more in complicated cases.

Closing adjustments

This cost includes any adjustments between you and the seller for things like property
taxes and utilities that were paid in advance. Your lawyer or notary can
calculate these charges.

Mortgage insurance

If your mortgage is more than 75 per cent of the home’s selling price, it’s considered
high-ratio and you must buy insurance from the Canada Mortgage and
Housing Corporation
. The amount is calculated based on the ratio of
mortgage to home value.

Property taxes

If you’ve never owned your own place before, you’ve never had the joy of paying this monthly expense. This is on top of monthly strata fees if you’re in a condo.

Movers

At its most basic, there’s the cost of hiring a company to haul all of your worldly possessions to your new digs; then there’s the potential expense of having someone pack all of your things for you too. Costs vary widely and depend on how far you’re
going.

Ask in advance whether the movers charge for travel time to get to you in the first place.

If you have to be out of your old place before you can move into your new place, you’ll have
storage costs as well.

Appliances

These may or may not come with the home, so you may find yourself shopping for a washer and dryer or even a fridge, oven and dishwasher.

Window coverings

Again, these aren’t necessarily automatically included. Be clear about this in your offer so
you’re not left doing an emergency run for blinds or curtains.

Connection fees

Telephone, cable, Internet and alarm-system companies will ding you a connection fee. Then there are charges to set up heat, water, gas and electricity. However, some of
these charges may be negotiable if you’re staying with the same service
provider. It never hurts to ask what the company can do to retain you as a
loyal customer.

Miscellaneous

As a proud new homeowner, you may need to invest in items like a lawn mower, sprinklers, garden tools, hoses, shovels, a ladder, a freezer, basic tools and the like. It
all adds up. Best to start saving now.