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I started off selling mainly condos, helping first time buyers get a foothold in the Toronto real estate market. Now working with investors and helping empty nesters find that perfect luxury suite.

Toronto Real Estate

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Toronto Real Estate

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BMO cuts one 5-year mortgage rate amid falling outlook for home sales

BMO is lowering the posted rate on its promotional five-year mortgage to 2.79%, effective immediately.

Madhavi Acharya-Tom Yew – Toronto Star

Bank of Montreal has slashed the posted rate on a fixed five-year promotional mortgage, kicking off the spring home buying season amid fears of a slowdown in real estate – and rising household debt.

Comment: No one is afraid of a real estate slowdown. Except in Alberta.

BMO, as the bank is known, said Tuesday that it has reduced the rate on its Smart Fixed Mortgage to 2.79% from 2.99%, effective immediately.

The rate for the standard five-year fixed mortgage remains at 4.74%, according to BMO’s website.

Canada’s other big banks quickly followed suit.

Comment: So the experts who all warned of rising rates ruining real estate… what do they say now?

Mortgage rate cut
The 2.79% rate is the lowest-ever posted five-year mortgage rate from one of Canada’s Big Banks, said Penelope Graham, editor at

Some smaller lenders and mortgage brokers are currently offering five-year rates as low as 2.59%, Graham added.

Comment: There are variable rates in the 2.05% range.

“This is the time of year when the mortgage market gets really competitive. Everyone is coming out of hibernation and hitting the open houses and they’re really looking right now,” Graham said.

“This is the time of year when people really do make that decision on a housing purchase. The lenders know this and they price their products accordingly to capture as much market share as possible.”

TD Canada Trust quickly matched the move, lowering its five-year fixed rate to 2.79, effective Wednesday, a spokesperson said in an email to The Star. The current rate has been posted at 3.09% since Jan. 27.

Spokespersons for Royal Bank of Canada and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce told the Star in separate emails that they can match the 2.79% offer, though the posted five-year rates at both banks are higher. Scotiabank has a posted rate of 2.85% for a five-year mortgage, according to its website.

Five-year mortgages are one of the most common ways for consumers to finance the purchase of a new home, and competition among lenders often heats up during the spring when buyers and sellers tend to be more active.

Home sales in Toronto exceeded expectations in February, with sales rising 11.3% from the same period a year ago, and the price of an average detached exceeding $1 million.

Comment: Who is afraid of a slowdown?

The average price of a Vancouver property rose 1.8% to about $825,000 in January from a year earlier and climbed 4.9% to $576,000 in Toronto, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.

“There’s these very low mortgage rates that make it cheaper than ever to borrow but the sums you have to borrow are just astronomical,” Graham said.

Comment: Yes, but it is all about the monthly cost. And low rates today, even with the high prices, are almost the same as they were 30-35 years ago. Prices may have been lower, but the 18-21% mortgage rates more than offset that.

However, the Canadian Real Estate Association recently cut its outlook for home sales this year.

The association predicts the impact of declining oil prices on consumer confidence in some provinces will push down home sales by 1.1% to 475,700 units countrywide.

Comment: Yes, if you average the drop in Alberta across the whole country. But oil prices will actually push sales and prices higher in Ontario.

Oil-price shock sends Canadian pessimism to recession-era levels

At the same time, household debt levels have hit a new record, according to figures released this month from Statistics Canada.

Canadians now owe a record $1.63 for every $1 of disposable income.

Comment: This is not a record, we have been at 163% before. Not that it is good, but it is not some new high-water mark. It was 162.6% in 2012, for instance. It would be nice to see that go down, but it is not as bad as it is being portrayed. If we calculate it the US way, then we are only at 153%. But 25 years ago, we were only at 80% – a point to aim to get back to.

The Bank of Canada and its governor Stephen Poloz have repeatedly warned consumers to reduce their debt levels because interest rates will eventually rise.

However, the central bank surprised markets by cutting its benchmark overnight rate in January, as part of an effort to shield the economy from the impact of collapsing prices for crude oil.

Some observers worry that the interest rate cut will fuel already-blistering real estate markets in Toronto and Vancouver, encouraging some Canadians to take on more debt at record-low rates.

The International Monetary Fund also warns that Canada’s hot housing market and rising household debt levels are key risks for the domestic economy.

Comment: Debt is a risk, yes. But how is real estate a risk?

Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto real estate agent with Century 21 Regal Realty.
He did not write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who
are interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.


Developers say foreign investors still a small segment of condo market

Garry Marr – Financial Post

Some of the country’s leading developers shared their own statistics on the composition of today’s condominium buyers and the consensus is foreigners are a small minority of the group.

“There are a lot of myths in the condominium industry,” said C. Hunter Milborne, of Milborne Real Estate Inc., at the Queen’s Real Estate Roundtable in Toronto. “One of the myths is that the predominate buyers are foreign investors.”

Comment: And who knows better? Those who sell to them or those who don’t?

The subject has long been the source of speculation with the fear that foreign buyers are propping up the high-rise sector, inflating prices and could ultimately fuel a crash if they suddenly moved out of their investments.

New Toronto Condos
In late 2014, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. produced data that showed 2.4% of Toronto high-rise units and 2.3% in Vancouver were in foreign hands, figures that many still dispute.

Mr. Milborne acted for a recent Four Seasons condominium development in Toronto in which he says about 5% of buyers were foreign. He said the notion of high foreign ownership doesn’t hold water based on his findings that are backed up by contracts tracking a buyer’s connection to Canada.

Comment: So “experts” can doubt the figures all they want, the developers have names and contracts and paperwork proving where buyers are from.

“When we take an agreement of purchase and sale, we need a [social insurance number] and photo identification,” he said, adding lenders providing construction financing demand to know the origin of money before they go ahead. “We kind of know what percentage of buyers are foreign buyers.”

James Ritchie, senior vice-president of sales and marketing with Tridel Corp., which built its first condo in 1968 and currently has 5,400 high-rise suites under construction in the Greater Toronto Area, said of about 2,000 suites closed by his company last year only 2.9% of purchasers came from outside Canada.

“It really depends on where you are, the further away from the core the less interest you have from outside the country. The closer to the core, the taller the building, the more interest,” Mr. Ritchie said about foreign buyers.

He said of those 2,000 suites this firm closed last year, only nine defaulted and none was foreign bought.

“I think a lot this has to do with deposits. Anybody who lives in this country must deposit 20% on the transaction when it’s in pre-construction. That mitigates risk. The banks are adverse to it and so are we as prudent developers,” Mr. Ritchie said, adding the 35% deposit for foreign buyers is required because “there is no way to mitigate our loss for people outside the country. There are a lot of legal remedies that accrue to the developer if you are inside the country.”

Comment: And it is this small number of foreign buyers, putting down 35%, that the “experts” are saying will bring down the condo market.

Deposits are regulated by the government, but 20% for domestic buyers and 35% for foreigners has become the de facto standard between builders and banks before said buyer can count as a sale. Banks demand between 60% to 70% of a high-rise be pre-sold before providing construction financing.

Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto real estate agent with Century 21 Regal Realty.
He did not write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who
are interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.


Spring real estate market heats up in Toronto, Vancouver

Alexandra Posadzki – The Canadian Press

Rock-bottom interest rates, a scarcity of supply and growing demand from millennials and wealthy immigrants have fuelled a strong start to the spring real estate season in Toronto and Vancouver.

“Spring has come early for both Toronto and Vancouver,” said Sal Guatieri, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.

Both cities experienced growth in sales volumes and prices during the first two months of the year, Guatieri said.

“I would expect the spring market to be quite hot in both cities — but that will be the exception across the country, not the norm.”

Comment: And Toronto is seeing more listings, finally, which is helping to raise sales levels.

In Toronto, February home sales grew by 11% from a year ago while prices jumped nearly 8%, according to statistics from the Toronto Real Estate Board. That’s despite the fact that it was one of the coldest Februaries on record for the city.

Toronto house
“I’ve always said that our climate naturally has a natural cooling effect on our real estate market,” said Claude Boiron, a Toronto-based broker with Royal LePage Terrequity Realty.

“You would think this year, with the extreme cold, that there would have been an extreme cooling, but that really didn’t happen. The amount of demand just continues to increase.”

The number of active listings — which indicates the supply of homes for sale — at the end February dropped by 8.7% from a year ago, leading to heightened competition between buyers.

Comment: But they are up around the same amount through the first half of March. Hopefully that turns into a trend.

In Vancouver, home sales were up 21% in February compared to a year ago, while prices rose by 6.4%.

The average price of a detached home — an increasingly rare commodity in space-constricted urban centres — tipped over the $1 million mark in both cities this year.

Comment: Almost $1.1m in Toronto so far in March.

Meanwhile, the spring outlook for other markets across the country is less rosy. Alberta and Newfoundland are likely to see their real estate markets continue to soften due to the impact of lower oil prices on their economies, Guatieri said.

Vancouver house
“We do think oil prices will steady later this year, but the next few months could be a bit rough for the housing markets in those regions,” Guatieri said.

He noted that “even high-flying Saskatchewan has lost a lot of steam recently,” with home prices in Regina and Saskatoon, which had been rising rapidly, beginning to fall.

Real estate markets in Quebec and Atlantic Canada, which have cooled considerably, are expected to be remain relatively stable, Guatieri said.

“Those markets have been cool for some time now. Demand has been weak … Listings have shot higher. Prices are either very steady or, in many cases, falling modestly. I don’t see signs of a turnaround.”

But as immigrants continue to flock to Toronto and Vancouver and millennials enter their prime home buying years, demand for housing will remain strong, Guatieri said. Toronto and Vancouver’s real estate markets will only start to cool once interest rates begin to rise, Guatieri said.

Comment: IF interests rates begin to rise. And with BMO now at 2.79% posted, a jump to 4% would be pretty big, but it would mean little to most buyers.

Despite the flood of buyers into the Toronto and Vancouver markets, mortgage expert Rob McLister says the banks have not been as aggressive in trying to woo customers with mortgage rate discounts as in previous years.

Comment: Just wait.

“When it comes to mortgage rate promotions, it’s been whisper quiet compared to the last few Februaries and Marches,” said McLister, who is the founder of

In addition to trying to maintain their profit margins, McLister says the banks are wary of drawing the ire of policy-makers, “many of whom don’t want flashy rate wars to further stoke demand in Canada’s overheated housing regions.”

Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto real estate agent with Century 21 Regal Realty.
He did not write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who
are interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.