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First-Time Homebuyers

First-Time Homebuyers Incentive Changes: What You Need to Know

Exciting New Changes to the CMHC First-Time Homebuyers Program

First-time homebuyers, we have great news! As of May 3rd, 2021, new updates to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)’s First-Time Homebuyers Incentive have come into effect. Victoria is now one of the few cities that has been given enhanced eligibility criteria to help you qualify for a lower monthly mortgage payment.

What Is the First-Time Homebuyers Incentive?

The First-Time Buyers Incentive can lower your monthly mortgage payments.

As explained by the National Housing Strategy, the First-Time Home Buyers Incentive is a program that lets you borrow 5% or 10% of the sticker price of a home. When you decide to sell your house (within a 25 year period) you pay back that same percentage of the value of your home.

How Does the First-Time Homebuyers Incentive Work?

The incentive works just like putting a second mortgage on your home. 

To qualify for the incentive, your mortgage must be greater than 80% of the value of the property subject to a real estate loan premium. Your mortgage must also be eligible for mortgage insurance through Canada Guaranty, CMHC or Sagen (previously known as Genworth.) 

The mortgage insurance premium is based on the loan-to-value ratio of the first mortgage only. So, the first mortgage amount is divided by the purchase price. The good news is you don’t pay mortgage insurance on the incentive, since it’s included with the total down payment.

What Are the Updates to the First-Time Homebuyers Incentive?

First-time homebuyers purchasing in Toronto, Vancouver, or Victoria are now eligible for an increased Qualifying Annual Income of $150,000 instead of $120,000, an increase of $30,000. This can mean the difference between being able to buy a home or having to save up for a larger down payment. 

First-time homebuyers are also eligible for an increased total borrowing amount of 4.5 rather than 4.0 times their qualifying income, meaning you can buy that bigger, better home. 

Not sure if your preferred neighbourhood is included in Victoria proper? The location maps and tools on www.placetocallhome.ca will help you be sure the home you want is in the right location to qualify for the First Time-Home Homebuyers incentive.

How Does the First-Time Homebuyers Impact My Mortgage?

There are two options, 5% or 10%, depending on what you qualify for as a buyer. Your mortgage lender can explain how the amount of your down payment, purchase price of the home, annual income and more can help influence which incentive you’re eligible for. Here are two scenarios that help to explain what happens when your home’s value increases versus what happens when your home’s value decreases after you get the incentive.

Scenario 1 – You receive a 5% incentive and your home’s value increases

As the buyer, you receive a 5% incentive of the home’s price. If you were purchasing a $200,000 home, you’d receive $10,000. If that home’s value increases to $300,000, your payback will be 5% of the current value (or $15,000.)

Scenario 2 – You receive a 10% incentive and your home’s value decreases

You receive a 10% incentive of the home’s price of $200,000, or $20,000. If your home value decreases to $150,000, your repayment value will be 10% of the present value (or $15,000.)

Am I A First-Time Homebuyer?

You are considered a first-time homebuyer if:

  • You have never purchased a home before.
  • You didn’t live in a home that you (or your current spouse or common-law partner) owned within the last 4 calendar years. Note: the 4-year period begins on January 1 of the fourth year. 
  • Your marriage or common-law relationship has recently ended and you’re going through a separation or divorce requiring a division of assets.

Other eligibility requirements for the First-Time Homebuyers Incentive:

When determining whether you are eligible for the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive in Victoria:

  • Your total annual qualifying income will not exceed $150,000.  
  • You’re borrowing no more than 4.5 times your qualifying income.
  • You or your spouse / partner are first-time homebuyers.
  • You are a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or non-permanent resident authorized to purchase a property in Canada.
  • You meet the minimum down payment requirements with traditional funds—this could be savings, withdrawal/collapse of a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), or a non-repayable financial gift from a relative/immediate family member.

What else should you know?

If you’re considering applying for the incentive, you should be prepared for some potential additional costs. These can include:

  • Additional legal fees- Since you will be closing on two mortgages, your fees may increase.
  • Appraisal fees – To repay your incentive, you’ll need to have an appraisal done to work out the fair market price of your home. (Need some pointers? We’ve curated a pre-appraisal checklist just for you.)
  • Property insurance premiums – Extra costs may factor in since there is an additional mortgage registered on the property. Talk to your insurance agent or insurance provider for more details on these types of fees and premiums.
  • Other fees – Additional documentation or admin fees could also be incurred if you switch your mortgage to a replacement lender or if you refinance the mortgage.

Lastly, the type of home / property that you are looking to purchase is going to play a factor in the incentive amount that you are given. A new construction home may qualify for an incentive amount of 5% or 10%. An existing home or a mobile/manufactured home will be a flat 5%. 

Also, any residential property with 1 to 4 units can qualify, which means the options are endless: You are eligible with anything from a single-family home, a semi-detached home, a duplex, triplex, fourplex, townhouse, condominium unit, or a mobile home. The caveat is that this must be your residential property that you live in, year-round. Income properties will not qualify.

Applying for The First-Time Home Buyers Incentive is Simple

Once you’ve been preapproved for a mortgage, you can fill out the two forms found on A Place to Call Home. Under “How Do I Apply” you’ll find these forms.

  1. The First-Time Home Buyers (FTHBI) SEM Information package
  2. The SEM (Shared Equity Mortgage) Consent form

These PDFs can be printed and filled out, or filled out digitally. Once they are complete, give them to your lender. They will submit the application for you. If you need any help with the forms, just let your lender know. They’ll be able to help you dot the i’s and cross the t’s. 

The final signed copy of the SEM package will go to your lawyer or notary. Once you’re accepted for the Incentive program, you just need to activate your incentive. It’s as easy as a phone call. Just call Fidelity National Financial Canada at 1 (855) 844-4535 and give them the name of your lawyer or notary. The sooner you can do this, the better, since you’ll need to activate your incentive at least 2 weeks before the sale of your home closes.

The First-Time Homebuyers Incentive changes make purchasing a home in Victoria a little bit easier. With this new eligibility criteria now in place, it may just be the perfect time to consider becoming a homeowner. At D. Fritz Appraisals Inc., we can help you with that. Whether you are thinking of buying or selling, or just looking to get that appraisal done, our experienced and professional team of appraisers offer the most accurate and comprehensive residential real estate appraisal service around Victoria, central Vancouver Island, and the Gulf Islands. To order an appraisal, call us at (250) 413-7319. You can also send us an email and we’ll respond as soon as possible.

New mortgage stress test for Canadians

New Increase in Mortgage Stress Test

Rate Hike Will Affect a Large Number of Borrowers

The Mortgage Stress Test will be increasing as of June 1, 2021. Under the new requirements set by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI), uninsured mortgages will increase to a qualifying benchmark rate of 5.25%.

The Mortgage Stress Test Rollercoaster

If you were refinancing or purchasing last year, you probably noticed that the stress test decreased in 2020, to 4.79%, just 15 basis points above the record low of 4.64%. In finance, especially real estate, a bit of a rollercoaster is common. That said, the general consensus within the industry is that no one really expected to see such a drastic change in Canadian housing market conditions in a one-year time period. 

Real Estate and financial speculators have been predicting everything from catastrophe to smooth sailing as more investors purchase luxury homes. Now experts say that increasing the mortgage stress test requirements for potentially riskier, uninsured mortgages can help to smooth the curve. They also say it can help rebalance supply and demand in the residential real estate market as well as overall economic conditions.

Why is the Mortgage Stress Test Increasing?

The OSFI hopes that imposing a higher mortgage stress test rate will help to cool down an overheated real estate market. Throughout the pandemic, supply and demand have become extremely unbalanced, with much less supply of residential homes than in past years. Those homes that are listed are often sold for well over asking, driving the average home prices higher and higher as a result.

According to stats from the Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB) In April 2021, median house prices in Greater Victoria increased to $996,500, up from $884,600 in April 2020.

“We’ve seen an imbalance in our market for quite a few months, says VREB President David Langlois. We continue to see huge pressure on single-family homes,” he adds. “New listings are snapped up as soon as they are listed.”

The good news is that the mortgage stress test increase will not be implemented across the board for all house hunters. Only those trying to qualify for an uninsured mortgage will be subjected to the new, higher mortgage qualification rate as of June 1, 2021.

What is an Uninsured Mortgage?

Canada has three default mortgage insurers, CMHC, Sagen (previously Genworth) and Canada Guaranty. Bank of Canada guidelines dictate that these insurers can not insure specific types of mortgages.
These are:

  1. Refinanced mortgages – Increasing the existing mortgage for access to additional funds is called refinancing. Mortgages are often refinanced when the homeowners want to renovate, access the equity in their mortgage to pay for schooling, a secondary property or finance a small business. Of course, the rules and regulations vary per borrower and lender, the type of mortgage, the amortization period and more.
  2. Purchases with a 20% or higher down payment, on 30-year amortizations (terms)
  3. Purchases of $1,000,000 or higher, with any amortization period
  4. Purchases of a rental / income property

What Does this Mortgage Stress Test Rate Increase Mean for Homeowners?

The stress test rate increases will make it more difficult to refinance, since homeowners who wish to increase their mortgage loan must be able to qualify with these new, higher interest rates. It could also mean the difference between finally being able to purchase your first home or needing to wait a little while longer until you can meet the new 5.25% requirement.

Also, because uninsured mortgages account for approximately 70-75% of all mortgages issued by Canadian Financial Institutions (CFI), a huge chunk of mortgage applications will potentially be rejected due to their higher financial risk to lenders.

For example, after the changes take place on June 1, your mortgage qualification of x amount will decrease. A $400,000 mortgage qualification will slip down $15,000 to $385,000. The higher the home price reaches, the larger the difference. That $15,000 difference in the $400,000 mortgage can mean the difference between lenders being able to provide the loan or not. It could also mean the difference between the homeowner being able to refinance their existing home or purchase an income property, which for many, can be a great way to increase their investment portfolio. 

The Mortgage Stress Test Increase Will Not Affect Everyone

Rest assured, the increase won’t affect first-time homebuyers with less than 20% down, since their mortgages will be insured (usually with CMHC). It also won’t affect buyers who put more than 20% down AND who amortize over 25 years. The maximum mortgage term will be 25 years for insured mortgages and 30 years for uninsured mortgages. Also, the stress test will stay at 4.79% for insured mortgages, preventing any additional mortgage debt.

 

The mortgage stress test increase is just around the corner. If you’ve been considering refinancing to access funds for the renovation you’ve been dreaming about, now is the perfect time. Give our team at D. Fritz Appraisals Inc. a call to book your residential appraisal. We’ll help you uncover the value in your home with our comprehensive and accurate evaluations. Whether you’re looking to buy, sell or refinance or just have an up to date appraisal for your records, our property value estimations can help you get ready for the next step in your real estate journey. Located on Royal Oak Ave in Victoria, BC, we’re open Monday to Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM. Give us a call at (250) 413-7319 or contact us via email.

canadian real estate trends 2020

Cost Comparison and Trends in Canadian Real Estate

2020 has been a year of highs and lows for the Canadian Real Estate Market

Fitting with the times we’re in, the CREA (Canadian Real Estate Association) couldn’t even publish a quarterly trend forecast in June. Instead, a notice on the webpage stated that “as providers of the most accurate and timely housing data and statistics, CREA believes the outlook to still be too uncertain to release a forecast at this time.”

However, there are still monthly forecasts. As of August 2020, the CREA’s monthly stats and forecast was quite positive, showing home prices and sales increasing across Canada (on average).

Canada’s Real Estate Market is Still Hot

July 2020 was a record-breaking month for many markets, which otherwise floundered during April and May. In fact, according to the CREA monthly stats report, home sales rebounded by 26% in July 2020. Transactions increased country-wide on a month over month basis.

At this point, supply has exceeded demand in many markets, creating a competitive and busy market as we close out summer 2020. Major markets like London-St Thomas, Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver have seen large jumps in average home prices in the past year.

Sales Increases in the 11 Largest Markets

  • 49.5% in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)
  • 43.9% in Greater Vancouver
  • 39.1% in Montreal
  • 36.6% in the Fraser Valley
  • 31.8% in Hamilton-Burlington
  • 28.7% in Ottawa
  • 16.9% in London and St. Thomas
  • 15.7% in Calgary
  • 12.1% in Winnipeg
  • 9.7% in Edmonton
  • 5.4% in Quebec City

Housing Prices Across Canada

Note that this statistical information includes all housing types. This average price information is used for determining trends over time and doesn’t account for price ranges between dramatically different neighbourhoods or geographic areas.

  • Home prices have been rising nearly constantly for the past 17 years and between 2016 and 2019, pricing rose by 27.8% (18.5% adjusted for inflation).
  • Across Canada, the average home price rose to $571,471 in July 2020, compared to $500,164 in July 2019. B.C and Ontario are currently the most expensive markets, with average pricing of $699,300 and $606,400.
  • During 2019, Ottawa’s home prices rose the most at 7.38% (on average). Next was Halifax at 7.35%, Montreal at 6.37% and Toronto at 4.48%
  • There were also smaller increases in Quebec at 1.49%, Victoria at 1.13% and Winnipeg at 1.02%
  • Pricing fell in Vancouver at -4.05% and in two of Alberta’s major markets: Edmonton at -1.49% and Calgary at -0.94%

Average Housing Prices in Major Canadian Cities

East of Saskatchewan, most markets have seen strong sales and increasing prices. While prices have also risen in B.C. and Alberta, they haven’t been as distinctive. According to the CREA’s monthly statistical report, the actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in July 2020 was $571,500, up a record-setting 14.3% from July 2019.

This number is influenced by the increases in Canada’s two hottest and most expensive markets- Greater Toronto (GTA) and Greater Vancouver. Without the increases in these markets, the national average home price would be around $117,000 less.

View CREA’s National Price Map

Greater Vancouver

Average Price- $1,031,400 in July 2020 compared to $987,200 in July 2019

Fraser Valley

Average Price- $858,300 in July 2020 compared to $824,500 in July 2019

Victoria

Average Price- $724,600 in July 2020 compared to $700,300 in July 2019

Edmonton

Average Price- $319,000 in July 2020 compared to $323,800 in July 2019

Calgary

Average Price- $411,200 in July 2020 compared to $417,200 in July 2019

Regina

Average Price- $272,200 in July 2020 compared to $269,000 in July 2019

Saskatoon

Average Price- $296,900 in July 2020 compared to $291,300 in July 2019

Winnipeg

Average Price- $284,000 in July 2020 compared to $270,500 in July 2019

Hamilton-Burlington

Average Price- $687,000 in July 2020 compared to $608,600 in July 2019

London-St Thomas

Average Price- $485,802 in July 2020 compared to $406,125 in July 2019

Montreal

Average Price- $401,300 in July 2020 compared to $351,700 in July 2019

Greater Toronto

Average Price- $880,400 in July 2020 compared to $800,200 in July 2019

Ottawa

Average Price- $506,700 in July 2020 compared to $428,100 in July 2019

Quebec City

Average Price- $258,000 in July 2020 compared to $244,800 in July 2019

Halifax- Dartmouth

Average Price- $363,692 in July 2020 compared to $310,251 in July 2019

St John

Average Price- $202,297 in July 2020 compared to $185,632 in July 2019

The Price Gap Between Condos and Single-Family Homes is Shrinking

The mortgage stress test is potentially making it tougher for home buyers to get into single family and more expensive types of homes (particularly in major cities). First time buyers in major markets may opt to purchase a condo over a single-family home. Condo prices are rising due to increased demand (4.2% year over year) and single-family home prices remain relatively similar – the gap between condo pricing and single-family home pricing is narrowing.

Single Family Homes Under Development

In 2018, there were 46,747 units under construction, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This was down from 55,000 units in 2017. As people move further away from the larger cities (Toronto and Vancouver) there are more opportunities for development and more affordable housing prices.  Within pricier markets, home buyers may often look for properties with rental income potential to offset the cost of the mortgage.

Multi-Family Homes Under Development

Condos are the leader for new home construction. In 2018, inventory still under construction reached almost 121,000 units (54% of new builds). Condos also eclipsed single family and rental homes (apartments) at 46,747 units and 56,394 units, respectively. Condos purchased by investors also supplement and supply the rental market. Thinking about getting into the market this fall? Whether you’re considering buying or selling or just want to know what your home is truly worth, our team offers accurate, comprehensive and professional residential real estate appraisal services. D. Fritz Appraisals serves clients from South to Central Vancouver Island (Victoria to Nanaimo) as well as the Gulf Islands. For any questions or to order an appraisal, contact us today.

real estate market trends 2020

Current Real Estate Industry Trends

COVID-19 Halts the Vancouver Island Real Estate Marketplace

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, no aspect of the Canadian economy was left untouched and the real estate market felt this acutely with a major slump during March and April. During this period, many British Columbians experienced layoffs, placed themselves in social isolation and were hesitant to open their homes to strangers. For many, listing their homes or searching for a new home took a backseat to navigating the “new normal” during this very odd time in history when schools, workplaces, and all public spaces shut down, seemingly overnight. Also, as restrictions on rental properties were put into place to protect tenants from eviction during the lockdown period, owners of these properties were unable to list these homes. With realtors also self-isolating and avoiding in-person meetings, the market in the Victoria Real Estate (VREB) region was uncharacteristically quiet during what would normally be peak season. Live-streamed open houses, virtual walkthroughs, masks and sanitizer waiting at listed homes became common as the first weeks wore on.

The Vancouver Island Real Estate Market Bounces Back

The market experienced a stronger than expected bounce-back in late May and June, closely timed with the start of Phase 2 of the BC Restart Plan. As a result, in June the number of homes on the market was much closer to 2019 numbers and sales in June 2020 in the VREB region surpassed sales from June 2019. Despite a slow spring, home prices continued to rise. The sale price of an average single-family home in Victoria topped $1 million in June. Competitive/ multiple offers have also become common due to limited inventory. The BCREA, VREB, and VIREB, Real Estate professionals and other industry experts report this is likely due to a pent-up demand from buyers and sellers having to wait throughout the spring (normally the ideal time to buy and sell) to make their move.

real estate market trends 2020

Changes by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) may also have played a role in demand with new changes resulting in reduced borrowing power. The eligibility rules for a mortgage have now changed to include an inability to use borrowed funds for a down payment, requirements for a higher credit score, and a lower amount of debt that an applicant is allowed carry. Some buyers, particularly first-time buyers, may have felt a push to purchase a home before those changes came into effect July 1. “COVID-19 has exposed long-standing vulnerabilities in our financial markets, and we must act now to protect the economic futures of Canadians,” says Evan Siddall, CMHC’s President and CEO, of the changed eligibility rules for borrowers requiring mortgage insurance.

Changes in Pricing Could Lead to New Opportunities

Rising home prices are believed to be a result of limited inventory and more competitive/multiple offers seen through May and June as the market began to recover. Despite this initial rise, lower valuations may come into play as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, and as we experience a potential second wave.

The Vancouver Island Market Moving Forward

The Real Estate market on Vancouver Island is a mixed bag and it remains to be seen how it will fare long-term, particularly after Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and other government assistance programs wind down during the next few months. The CERB benefit, for example, is available from March 15 to October 3, 2020 but can be applied for retroactively up until December 2, 2020. These programs have temporarily taken the pressure off to pay the mortgages and bills and even defer taxes Industry professionals believe it’s possible there may be a surge in sales as these programs phase out, forcing homeowners to list their properties.

A bit of good news: in the most recent market intelligence report by the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCCREA), it is “anticipated that while the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak will be deeply felt, the bounce-back will be faster than in previous recessions. As the protection measures are lifted, as we have already seen in parts of the Province, the pent-up demand will return to local markets with buyers keen to take advantage of low interest rates.” The long-term effects remain to be seen, but on the positive side, a combination of lower interest rates, increased inventory and a drop in valuation have the potential to create an ideal buyer’s market and faster sales.

 

The Numbers:

  • In April 2020, sales in the VREB dropped by 58.8 percent compared to April 2019
  • Condo sales are down 3.2% with 209 units sold in June 2020- believed to be at least partly a result of rising Strata insurance costs.
  • Single family home sales are up 16.8% with 460 homes sold in June 2020
  • Sales in the VREB region were up in June at 808 properties sold, compared to 740 properties sold in June 2019
  • There are currently 2,698 active listings on the VREB Multiple Listing Service (MLS) as of the end of June 2020

Full VREB Stats

 

As one of Victoria’s longest-standing appraisal firms, rely on our years of expertise if you are considering buying, selling, or re-financing. At D. Fritz Appraisals Inc. located in Victoria BC, our expert team understands that these are uncertain times and its of utmost importance to have the most accurate and comprehensive valuations possible. To get the full picture of the value of your property, contact us today.