OTTAWA - The federal government, concerned about sky-high real estate prices in Vancouver and Toronto, announced Friday it will make new buyers come up with a heftier down payment starting in mid-February.

The move was part of a three-pronged effort aimed at lowering the risk that taxpayers will have to bail out lenders in the event the bubble bursts in the housing markets in those two cities.

Effective February 15, 2016, the minimum down payment for new Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.-insured mortgages will jump from five to 10 per cent – though that extra five per cent will apply only to home purchase prices exceeding $500,000.

In other words, the current minimum payment on a $500,000 house would be $25,000. If the house costs $600,000 a 10 per cent charge is levied only on the extra $100,000, bringing the minimum payment to $35,000.

The new rule will not apply to Canadians who already hold mortgages.

The measures also won’t impact houses sold for $1 million or more, since they already required a minimum 20 per cent down payment.

Morneau, in a statement to reporters, made clear his concern was Vancouver and Toronto.

He noted that the average price of homes sold across Canada in October was $453,000, well under the threshold.

The “benchmark” price for a detached home in Greater Vancouver last month, however, was just over $1.2 million, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

“Targeting higher-price properties will minimize the impact on many first-time home buyers and (on) regional housing markets where activity is more moderate, while limiting risk and taxpayer exposure to the elevated housing markets in Vancouver and in Toronto,” he said in a sttement.

“Moreover this measure will increase home owner equity, which plays a key role in maintaining a stable and secure housing market and economy for the long term. This protects all homeowners, including many middle-class Canadians whose greatest investment is in their home.”

Morneau was asked by The Vancouver Sun why the federal government is targeting first-time buyers in cities like Vancouver, while doing nothing to deal with the impact of speculators and foreign buyers driving up prices.

“You know, we are taking measured approaches to make sure we protect Canadians,” he replied.

“We are looking at how we can ensure the Canadians who already have homes recognize there is a stable housing market, and those people that are aspiring to have homes can be assured that their biggest financial investment is in a stable and effective market.”

Morneau got quick support Friday from economist Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president and chief policy officer at the B.C. Business Council.

“I think this move makes sense,” Finlayson told The Sun.

“With an almost stalled Canadian economy, policy-makers need to be looking at tools other than interest rates as a means to address concerns about overheated housing markets in some major metropolitan areas.

“This change should not affect first-time home buyers in most Canadian cities, but will affect some in the Greater Toronto and Metro Vancouver markets.

“It is a prudent measure, in my view, but it is unlikely to have a significant impact on the high end of the housing market where buyers typically have the ability to make substantial down payments.”

Morneau’s move today was part of a three-pronged effort to protect Canada from the potential impact of an expanding housing market price bubble that bursts.

- CMHC is increasing guarantee fees charged to lenders to cover the cost of CMHC-sponsored securitization programs, National Housing Act mortgage-backed securities, and Canada Mortgage Bonds.

- The office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions said it will consult on and “update” regulated capital requirements for residential mortgages held by federally-regulated lenders, like banks, trust companies and credit unions, and for private mortgage insurers.

Twitter: poneilinottawa



The recently opened outlet shopping mall at Vancouver International Airport is receiving some international attention: McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Vancouver in Richmond has won the title of the ‘best outlet centre in the world’.

The awards were presented last month at MAPIC, an annual international retail property conference that attracted 8,000+ delegates from the retail property industry, 2,000+ retailers, 470 brands, and 700 exhibiting companies from 74 countries. This year’s event was held in Cannes, France.

Other awards at MAPIC included the best redeveloped shopping centre (Alegro Setubal in Lisbon, Portugal), best retail urban project (Markthal in Rotterdam, Netherlands), and best new shopping centre (Milaneo in Stuggart, Germany).


A spokesperson with MAPIC did not respond to a request for comment on why McArthurGlen’s Vancouver property is the best outlet centre in the world. However, the mall has been a massive success since its opening on July 9.

Image: Vancouver International Airport / Shutterstock

SEE ALSO: Vancouver International Airport ranked 10th best airport in the world

Approximately 160,000 people visited the mall during the four day opening weekend, making it the most successful McArthurGlen centre opening in the world. By early-October, the mall recorded 600,000 people, which is 66 per cent higher than original estimates.

Location and accessibility are the driving factors of the mall’s success. McArthurGlen’s 20 other global properties are all located in rural European areas, but the Sea Island mall is located within close proximity to a major metropolitan area’s downtown core and is immediately adjacent to rail rapid transit – the SkyTrain Canada Line’s Templeton Station. It is estimated that approximately 40 per cent of the mall’s traffic is made from SkyTrain.

Currently, approximately 50 stores occupy two-thirds of the mall’s 240,000 square feet of available retail space. More tenants will be announced over the coming year.

A future second phase, possibly by 2017, will extend the mall’s footprint towards the Arthur Laing Bridge. It will add another 140,000 square feet with space for about 50 stores, depending on the final configuration.

Revenue from McArthurGlen’s operations on land managed by the Vancouver Airport Authority help fund the airport’s capital projects and operational costs, thereby reducing the pressure to raise user fees for passengers and airlines.

Source; Vancity Buzz


Nothing can stop the Vancouver housing market, even typically slow November

In Vancouver, November housing sales were 46.2 per cent above the 10-year sales average for the month and the second highest ever for the month.

Even during what is considered one of the slowest months of the year for real estate, Canada’s most expensive housing market continued its torrid pace.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver said it recorded 3,524 sales across the multiple listing service in November, a 40.1 per cent increase from a year ago. Home sales were down 3.3 per cent from 3,646 a month earlier. 

“November is typically one of the quietest months of the year in our housing market, but not this year,” said Darcy McLeod, president of the board. “The ratio of sales to homes available for sale reached 44 per cent in November, which is the highest it’s been in our market in nine years.”

November sales were 46.2 per cent above the 10-year sales average for the month and the second highest ever for the month.

Housing sales activity is soaking up supply in the market, with the total number of properties listed for sale on MLS at 8,096 just in November, a 35 per cent decline compared to a year ago and a 15.4 per cent drop from a month earlier.

The impact on prices has been obvious. The board’s composite benchmark price for all residential properties in the Metro Vancouver area rose to $752,500, a 17.8 per cent increase from a year ago.

Detached properties, one of the most sought after commodities in the region’s real estate market, led the way on price increases. Based on the board’s benchmark index, a detached home is now $1,226,300, a 22.6 per cent increase from a year ago.

The average sale price of a detached home climbed to $1,579,170 in Vancouver in November.

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