Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Real Estate Gamble?

I just came across an article on that discusses the risks of assuming that your home will fund your retirement.
A growing number of Canadians view their home as their ticket to retirement comfort. This article asks, is that wise?
The article states that there are huge risks that come with this approach, mainly:
-What if house prices crash as the baby boomers start to downsize?
-The growing view that our housing market is “bubbly”
-Many new home buyers may not even have their homes paid off by the time retirement age arrives. Have you ever heard of a “mortgage burning party”? This elusive party celebrates a person’s newfound freedom after paying their mortgage down to $0. I can remember my parents mentioning these parties back in the ‘80’s. I don’t think I’ve heard of a single one in my adult years! If they exist anymore, they must be few and far between.

Our world has definitely changed in a short period of time. While funding one’s retirement through home ownership certainly has its risks, I must point out that everything comes with some level of risk. If you leave your money in a bank account you will accrue very little interest income (but will have very low risk), if you invest in the stock market you have the opportunity for big gains (and losses) depending on how your invest, and, if you purchase a home you do run the risk that the house will not increase in value the way you had hoped. When planning your retirement strategy I think it’s really important to speak with a knowledgeable financial advisor to determine your best course of action and how you can diversify your assets and savings to lower your overall risk!
Click on the link below to read the full MACLEANS article!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Moving checklist

While moving will always be stressful, there is a way to make it a little less so by organizing your efforts ahead of time. Below is a moving checklist to help with your endeavour:

Immediately after your offer is accepted:

- Start researching moving companies or truck rental companies. Remember, weekends - especially long weekends, or those at the beginning/end of a month - are high traffic moving days. Make your moving arrangements early to avoid last-minute headaches.

- Get your records in order. Contact your doctor, veterinarian, insurance agent and your child's school to find out what you have to do to transfer your records -or insurance coverage - to a new location. Use this opportunity to ask about noteworthy doctors, schools or veterinarians in your new community.

- If you have a gym membership, find out what it's going to take to cancel, transfer or sell your membership.

- If you're moving into a condo, find out what's involved in booking the elevator (i.e. deposit) and book it as soon as possible.

Two months before moving day:

- Ensure a fresh start in your new home by weeding through the clutter and tossing/giving away everything you don't need. Many charities are willing to come by your home and pick up old clothing (that is washed and in good condition) or usable furniture. If you'd like to make a bit of cash from your used goods, try an old-fashioned yard sale, or placing an ad on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.

- Start gathering moving supplies - boxes, packing tape, bubble wrap, etc.

One month before moving day:

- Get packing! Start with the items you don't use on a regular basis. Make sure boxes are clearly marked with the new room destination as well as a list of the contents.

- Jot down items of significant value, for moving insurance purposes.

- Visit to forward your mail to your new address. It couldn't hurt to also notify your: bank; cable/phone provider; insurance company; credit card provider; hydro/utility company; doctor/dentist; and any subscriptions you may have.

Two weeks before moving day:

- Check in with your moving/truck rental company ? just to be safe. Make sure your reservation is still standing, and all the information is accurate.

- Cancel or transfer your newspaper service.

- Transfer your hydro/utilities account and your cable/phone. Make sure you cancel the services the day after you move out, and activate the hydro at your new residence the day before you move in. Your phone/cable may have to wait until the day after you move in since a representative will likely have to visit your home.

- Keep packing!

One week before moving day:

- At this point, most of your packing should be completed - everything remaining should be items you're going to use this week. Leave a few empty boxes aside for these items, as well as a bag for those things you plan to carry with you.

A few days before moving day:

- Re-confirm arrival time of your moving truck. If moving yourself, re-confirm your reservations with the truck rental company.

- Prepare a detailed map and directions for your movers including a cell phone number you can be reached at on moving day.

- Pack a travel bag with the items your family may need on moving day such as tooth brushes, change of clothing, medications, hair bushes, soap, toilet paper, paper plates and cups, aspirin, etc.

-If you are moving yourself, start dismantling dressers, tables and other large furniture.

-Empty, defrost and clean your refrigerator at least 24 hours before moving day.

Moving Day

- Make note of all utility readings (new and old home).

- Supervise movers as they load and unload the truck (or, if you're moving yourself, remember to lift with your legs ? not your back!)

- Provide movers with directions and your cell phone number.

- Designate someone to direct the movers and determine which boxes go in which rooms.

- Check for damaged items before the movers leave. Also make sure all appliances are in working order.

- Enjoy your new home!

Courtesy of Axiom Mortgage Partners

Friday, December 11, 2009

You're asking me for too much paperwork!

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland has released a commentary explaining their theory on why the American housing market imploded while the Canadian market has remained strong.
The conclusion?
A lack of sub-prime lending in Canada.
What is a subprime borrower exactly?
Wikipedia defines it as:
“Subprime borrowers show data on their credit reports associated with higher default rates, including limited debt experience, excessive debt, a history of missed payments, failures to pay debts, and recorded bankruptcies.” (
So here is my humble opinion and semi-rant; sub-prime borrowing was rampant in the United States prior to the market meltdown. I’ve read many stories about individuals who were approved for mortgage financing with very lax lending guidelines, including mortgage loans that were approved with very little documentation. In my business, I sometimes have clients who complain about the amount of paperwork they are being asked to produce.
My thoughts are this: yes, I sometimes have to ask you for more paperwork than you expected and from your end I know this can seem a little over the top sometimes. But, you know what? The bank is lending you a lot of money! The bank is required to do their due diligence and confirm your income, source of employment, down payment funds and closing costs. I don’t make up the paperwork requirements; they come directly from the underwriter on your file.
Aren’t we all glad that the Canadian housing market has remained healthy throughout this global financial crisis? Can you imagine what would happen to your property value if you had 4 or 5 houses that were abandoned/foreclosed on your street? I partially contribute this healthy Canadian housing market to the fact that the vast majority of Canadian mortgage lenders have remained responsible and maintained strict underwriting/documentation requirements.
Buying a home and getting approved for a mortgage is a big deal, one that requires responsible borrowing and lending. So, if you feel you are being asked for too much paperwork just take a look at our neighbours to the south and you’ll be glad that Canada’s mortgage lenders are lending responsibly and ensuring that you do, in fact, qualify for your mortgage!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Canadians' rising debt worries Bank

Paul Vieira, Financial Post Published: Thursday, December 10, 2009

OTTAWA -- Rising levels of household debt and deteriorating budget balances in a number of countries will emerge as the most prominent risks to the Canadian financial system over the next few years, the Bank of Canada said Thursday.

In its semi-annual review of the Canadian financial system, the central bank said the level of vulnerability to an adverse near-term shock has declined modestly. Furthermore, the likelihood of a renewed global downturn has diminished since the release of its previous assessment in June.

"At the same time," it warned, "several medium-term risks have intensified."

Two were singled out: rising levels of household debt, perhaps spurred in recent months by consumers looking to take advantage of record-low borrowing costs; and an inability to resolve global trade imbalances, which the bank warned could cause a "disorderly" adjustment in exchange rates.

The central bank said the review is meant to provide an assessment of downside risks that could cause stress in financial markets, even if they are low-probability events.

Nevertheless, it acknowledged that ratio of household debt to income has climbed to "historically" high levels, of over 140%.

"The medium-term risk to financial stability arising from the household sector is judged to have increased," it said. "This judgment is predicated on concerns that the sustained growth of household debt in the context of rising interest rates will increase the vulnerability of households to an adverse shock over the medium term."

To illustrate its point, the bank conducted two hypothetical stress tests. In one scenario, interest rates rise to levels consistent with the current fixed-income market; and in the other, rates climb at a quicker pace than currently priced in by traders.

The results, for the period up to the second quarter of 2012, suggest the proportion of households with a debt-service ratio of over 40% -- a threshold the central bank deems vulnerable – would increase, from its present level of 5.9% to a range between 8.5% and 9.6%. (The debt-service ratio measures the amount of income needed to finance loans.)

The percentage of overall debt held by these vulnerable households would increase, from 10.7% now to somewhere between 16% and 19%.

While lenders might be able to absorb these type of losses based on current capital buffers, the central bank warned they should "carefully consider" the risk to their entire household exposure, even if mortgages are insured by the federal government. "A household defaulting on an insured mortgage would likely be unable to meet its other debt obligations, resulting in a deterioration in the quality of the bank's entire household loan portfolio."

The Canadian housing market has been on fire this year, with sales and price levels in the existing home market posting significant double-digit gains, especially in big urban centres.

Meanwhile, the central bank also raised a red flag on efforts to level out current account imbalances – whereby countries with massive deficits, such as the United States, save more while surplus nations, led by China, have to boost domestic consumption.

While there has been progress, the central bank warned that further adjustments in exchange-rate policies are required – a hint aimed at China and other Asian nations, which have intervened in currency markets to keep their currencies from appreciating. Unless that happens, other economies, such as Canada, might be forced to bear more of a cost than they can handle in terms of evening out imbalances.

In addition, dealing with the imbalances might be hindered by the massive budget shortfalls a "number of countries" are running at present, and are expected to continue over the medium term. The central bank didn't cite countries, but it is likely the United States was top of mind.

Should concerns over fiscal sustainability mount, the central bank suggested this could result in higher-than-expected yields on sovereign bonds – which would translate into higher borrowing costs for households and businesses across the board. Moreover, there is likely to be more volatility in currency markets.

"While Canada's fiscal position remains relatively strong, [the country] could be adversely affected if higher borrowing costs facing countries with large deficits were to mute the global recovery, or if there are rapid shifts in exchange rates," the review said.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

As predicted, on Tuesday the Bank of Canda kept it's promise and left the prime lending rate unchanged...the next scheduled date for annoucning the overnight rate is January 19th 2010.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Eliminate credit card dependence!

In a recent survey by TNS Canadian Facts, Personal Risk Assessment and Risk Literacy, 52% of Canadians said they would tap into their designated emergency fund should the need arise. Twenty-eight percent of respondents said they would rely on their credit card to get them out of a jam, however, making Canadians the most plastic-dependent national group. By contrast, only 20% of Americans and Brits said they would use a card for emergencies.
That number should be a reality check for many of us. Rock-bottom interest rates mean one thing - in terms of our expenses, there's nowhere to go but up. Having cash on hand for an emergency will reduce the chances of falling into the credit card debt spiral.
Here are a few tips to eliminate credit card dependence.
1. Tackle your high-interest debt first.
It's difficult to get ahead of the game when you're bogged down with credit card payments. Use the luxury of today's low interest rates to pay down your high interest debt. If you're due for a mortgage refinance, you might want to consider rolling your high credit card balances into a lower interest mortgage.
2. Make a budget.
Okay, budgeting isn't fun. But it's an integral part of financial health. Determine your regular expenses, variable expenses (like groceries and gas) and irregular expenses (like car maintenance). Be honest.
3. Create a few savings accounts.
The most important step in the journey of credit card independence is establishing a substantial cash cushion. The first cash cushion should be for irregular expenses - or those things you would typically buy on credit. Think Christmas and birthday gifts, housing expenses, and clothing. Estimate what you would spend on these irregular expenses in a given year and divide by 12. Stash that amount away monthly in a high interest savings account.
The second cash cushion should be an emergency fund - something to access if you or your spouse lose your jobs. Calculate your monthly living expenses and aim to save at least two months' worth. Ideally, you'd probably want to save about six months' worth.
The third cushion should be for your goals - either your retirement, vacations, a wedding or your children's education. Since these are longer-term savings, you might want to consider higher interest investment accounts, or government tools like RRSPs, investment savings accounts, etc.
Companies like ING Direct offer unique options for savings in that they allow you to create an automated savings plan. Every month, the bank will deduct money from your regular bank account. Because the bank is branchless, it's a little more difficult to access the funds because they have to be transferred back into your regular bank account - so you're less likely to tap into them on a whim.
4. Try the envelope method.While it doesn't work for everyone, the envelope method is a way to better control your variable expenses - and thus limit your unplanned credit card spending. Every month, withdraw the appropriate amount of cash for your variable expenses that is laid out in your budget. Create different envelopes - labeled 'groceries', 'gas', 'eating out', etc - and pay for each of the corresponding items with the designated cash. If you're constantly running out of cash before the end of the month, evaluate your spending habits - there may be areas you can trim, or you may have to revamp your budget.
-Axiom Mortgage Partners

Friday, November 13, 2009

Autumn house hunting, how far will your money go?

I love these fun comparisons by Macleans. Click on the following image to view the real estate you'll be able to purchase with 150k, 350k, 500k and 1 million in various Canadian cities!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Proposed Edmonton budget calls for 6.5% propertry-tax hike

It sounds like the city is getting ready to raise some more funds courtesy of local homeowners!

Monday, November 9, 2009

IMF Says Canadian real estate market's okay

Is Canada's housing market overvalued? According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) - an international organization that seeks to ensure global financial stability - the answer is 'not really'.
The organization's recent working paper, which was released in October, reveals that while many parts of the country were reaching levels of housing overvaluation in 2007, that's not the case anymore. Basing its conclusions on the CREA price index, the IMF suggests that, unsurprisingly, the Western provinces - namely, British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan - are slightly overvalued, but not to an extent where there's going to be a major crash.
The report says part of the influx in Western housing prices that have occurred over the past decade has been in response to the "underreaction" of housing prices during the 1990s. The hot housing markets in the 2000s brought these three regions to equilibrium, although they started to become overvalued in 2007. At this time, the IMF estimates Alberta housing prices were about 25% above equilibrium, and BC and Saskatchewan were about 17% above where they should have been.
Things started to slow down at the end of 2007 and early 2008, causing a large contraction. According to the report, housing prices in BC and Alberta are now around 8% overvalued, and those in Saskatchewan are approximately 5% higher than they should be.
This overvaluation is relatively small in the grand scheme of things, the IMF notes, and it's unlikely that there's going to be a large negative impact. The fact that the housing market is already showing strong signs of revival in these regions, in addition to the fact that commodity prices have increased compared to 2008, further supports this fact.
-Axiom Mortgage Partners

Monday, November 2, 2009

Bubble protection

If you're looking to buy, you're likely wary of the effect a hot real estate market can have on your investment. After all, not only are bidding wars frustrating, but get too caught up in them and you can wind up paying far above the accurate value of your property.
To protect yourself before entering a bidding war, consider calculating the price-to-rent ratio to determine a safe purchase price. While this calculation is typically used by investors- allowing them to compare the going price of real estate with what they can realistically redeem in rent- it's a great way of making sure your property price is in line with historic averages.
The calculation itself is simple. Visit a site such as or to determine the going monthly rental rates of similar properties in your area. Multiply that number by 12, to get the annual rental rate, and divide your proposed purchase price by the annual rental rate.
The equation should look like this:
Price-To-Rent-Ratio= Purchase price/Annual Rent
Between 1987-2007, the average ratio was about 15. During the US real estate bubble between 2005-2007, that number skyrocketed to over 20 in some areas.
Paying more than what a property is worth doesn't only have dire consequences if a potential real estate bubble bursts, but it can also prevent you from obtaining financing. If a lender believes you've overpaid for a property, they don't have to approve your mortgage for that property!
-Axiom Mortgage Partners

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Safeguarding your home purchase

This is a really good article that I received from Axiom regarding the decision between renting vs. buying:

There's a lot of speculation out there as to whether the recession is entering "recovery mode", or if we could see another dip. The ambiguity in economist opinions can make it difficult to decide whether now is the right time to buy - especially if your market is seeing a lot of bidding wars.

Here are a few things to consider before taking the plunge (or not)...

1. Is now the right time for you?
Forget about market conditions, interest rates or the fear of "missing the boat" and think about your life situation. Are you at a point in your life where you're ready to grow roots - or do you still have the travel bug, or a potential job transfer, in your future? Do you still have a few more years of city life in you, but can only afford to buy in the suburbs? Would buying greatly strap you down financially? If so, maybe taking the time to save for a larger down payment is the best move for you.

2. The five-year rule.
While it may be hard to look five years down the road, buying a place that will suit you for the next five years is the best way to ride out temporary market fluctuations. What are your goals over the next five years? If you're planning to start a family, a one-bedroom condo might not make the most sense.

3. Location, location, location!
Most of the time, buying in a popular location or on a coveted street will insulate you from market fluctuations. Remember the old adage - purchasing the least expensive home on an expensive, high-demand street is always better than buying the most expensive home on an inexpensive street. If you're looking to buy a home that will get you the most bang for your buck upon resale, look at up-and-coming areas that show promise of development over the next five years - such as new transit lines or housing developments.

4.Do your research.
The market is hot right now - which means you have to go into every real estate purchase, or bidding war, with a level head. Know what your desired property is worth, and head into every transaction with that number in mind - and don't go over it. This is probably easier said than done, but the last thing you want to experience is buyer's remorse.

5. Weigh the pros and cons of renting vs buying
for your particular situation. Putting money towards a mortgage every month is better than paying rent in many cases, because even if housing prices don't increase, you're building equity in a home of your own, rather than someone else's. That being said, if you have a very small down payment, and you can't comfortably qualify on a 25-year amortization for the type of property that you want, maybe you need to save a bit more. Figure out what a monthly mortgage payment would be, and save the difference between that and your monthly rent cost.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fixed rate increases are coming!

The word on the streets is that fixed rate mortgages are on the way up! The bond market jumped on Friday so we expect fixed mortgage rates to follow soon (fixed rate mortgages are based on the bond rate while variable rate mortgages follow the Bank of Canada's prime lending rate).
While the Bank of Canada has publicly stated that they will not increase the prime lending rate for a while, this is very separate from the world of fixed rate mortgages. I'll post tomorrow with the new rates as soon as my lending partners start their increases.
BTW, if you do not have a rate hold at your lending institution, GET ONE ASAP!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Latest mortgage rates @ Mortgage Success

Rates are down again! Please note, I have added some rates regarding a few cash back options that are available. These are not the only cash back options available so please contact me if you require more information regarding a cash back mortgage. (Borrowers may receive extra cash back funds if the mortgage closes within 30 days of submission to the lending institution).

Prime 2.25 %
Open Variable Rate Mortgage 3.75 %
Home Equity Line of Credit 3.25 %
6 Month 4.60 %
1 Year 2.75 %
3 Year 3.39 %
4 Year 3.69 %
5 Year Variable Rate (Prime) 2.25 %
5 Year 3.94%
5 Year (must close in 30 days) 3.84 %
5 Year 1.4% cash back 4.29 %
5 Year 3.4% cash back 4.79 %
5 Year 4.4% cash back 5.04 %
7 Year 5.25 %
10 Year `5.35 %
* Note: Rates are subject to change without notice. Please contact us for more information. OAC. Certain conditions may apply. Rate subject to borrower and property qualification. Posted rate is the rate posted by the majority of Canadian financial institutions. Rates may vary provincially.

Monday, October 5, 2009

There are a lot of variables in a variable rate

I just came across this article on the Financial Post's website. It is a great article for anyone who is struggling between choosing a variable or a fixed rate mortgage. The article states that most borrowers who chose a variable rate mortgage did better 88% of the time. This sounds great right? The article also goes on to point out that the above statistic does not mean that a variable rate mortgage is always the best choice. In the last year I have seen variable rate mortgages swing between Prime -0.6% to Prime + 0.6%. That is a huge difference! The current variable rate mortgage is sitting at prime, no discount or premium. These wild swings make it hard to know if you are getting a good variable product since the discount or premium can change quickly in just a few months.
When choosing a variable rate mortgage it's really important to evaluate your level of risk tolerance before deciding if the product is right for you. I have had many customers who have chosen a higher, fixed rate mortgage instead of the lower rate variable mortgage because they would rather know what their payment will be for the next 5 years. Variable or fixed is a very personal choice, one that I can certainly help you with but ultimately the choice is yours!

Read the Financial Post article HERE!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Mortgage Success Rates

Here are the latest lending rates! Please note, I have added some rates regarding a few cash back options that are available. These are not the only cash back options available so please contact me if you require more information regarding a cash back mortgage. (Borrowers may receive extra cash back funds if the mortgage closes within 30 days of submission to the lending institution).

Prime 2.25 %
Open Variable Rate Mortgage 3.75 %
Home Equity Line of Credit 3.25 %
6 Month 4.60 %
1 Year 2.75 %
3 Year 3.39 %
4 Year 3.69 %
5 Year 3.99 %
5 Year Variable Rate 2.25 %
5 Year (must close in 30 days) 3.89 %
5 Year 1.4% cash back 4.39 %
5 Year 3.4% cash back 4.89 %
5 Year 4.4% cash back 5.14 %
7 Year 5.25 %
10 Year 5.35 %

* Note: Rates are subject to change without notice. Please contact us for more information. OAC. Certain conditions may apply. Rate subject to borrower and property qualification. Rates may vary provincially.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Hazards of Waiving Financing Conditions

My brokerage is affiliated with Axiom Mortgage Partners and they recently posted the following article in an internal newsletter. This is really important and worth reading. I don't know why anyone would write an offer on a property without having a "subject to financing" condition. This is the biggest purchase of your life and it is important that you are protected!

"In the heat of a bidding war it might be tempting to waive a condition of financing to obtain an edge over (or merely keep up with) other bidders. This isn't always the wisest move - especially if you're prone to emotional bidding.
Even if you're preapproved for a mortgage, it's not guaranteed that you'll receive financing. Only once your lender (and mortgage default insurer, if you're putting down less than a 20% down payment) examines the details of the property (including purchase price, taxes, condo fees, etc.) will you know where you stand in terms of financing.
If you've grossly overpaid for your new home - and blown all previous comparables right out of the water - you might be in trouble. If you had a 5% down payment, and you were preapproved to spend up to $500,000, it might seem that a home listed at $450,000 is within your price range. The problem is, if similar homes in the area have sold for $385,000, the bank may opt to loan you 95% of $385,000, which means you would have to track down the remaining financing elsewhere.
One of the best ways to avoid this scenario is to do your research. Before embarking on a bidding war, ask your real estate agent to research comparable properties in the area to find out what the home's true value is - and make a pact not to go excessively beyond that number. If possible, try to find another way to get a leg up over other bidders - such as offering a quicker closing date."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Here are the latest lending rates! Please note, I have added some rates regarding a few cash back options that are available. These are not the only cash back options available so please contact me if you require more information regarding a cash back mortgage. (Borrowers may receive extra cash back funds if the mortgage closes within 30 days of submission to the lending institution).

Prime 2.25 %
Open Variable Rate Mortgage 3.75 %
Home Equity Line of Credit 3.25 %
6 Month 4.60 %
1 Year 2.75 %
3 Year 3.45 %
4 Year 3.69 %
5 Year 4.04 %
5 Year Variable Rate 2.45 %
5 Year (must close in 30 days) 3.94 %
5 Year 1.4% cash back 4.39 %
5 Year 3.4% cash back 4.89 %
5 Year 4.4% cash back 5.14 %
7 Year 5.25 %
10 Year 5.35 %

* Note: Rates are subject to change without notice. Please contact us for more information. OAC. Certain conditions may apply. Rate subject to borrower and property qualification. Posted rate is the rate posted by the majority of Canadian financial institutions. Rates may vary provincially.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Canada home resale market up 18.5% in year

John Morrissy, Financial Post
Published: Tuesday, September 15, 2009
National Post Canada’s surging resale housing market continued to post gains in August.

OTTAWA -- Canada's resale housing market continues to rally with 42,483 homes trading hands in August, an 18.5% gain from year-ago levels, the Canadian Real Estate Association said Tuesday.
Economists warned, however, the market's outperformance in recent months is not likely to go on for long as home prices rise and the market consolidates gains.
On a month-to-month basis, in fact, homes sales dipped slightly to 42,426 units in August from 42,666 in July.
"Canada's housing market has taken its cue more from the Great Houdini than the 'Bear' (economist Noriel) Roubini, fully escaping from the clutches of a potentially lengthy, harsh downturn," said BMO Capital Markets deputy chief economist Doug Porter.
"Record-low borrowing costs combined with the growing realization that the economic storm is passing have fuelled the remarkable turnaround. However, the gaudy sales growth will be tough to maintain now that prices are moving higher again."
Resale activity rose from year-ago levels in about three quarters of local markets. Year-over-year gains of 117% in Vancouver, 27% in Toronto, 17% in Calgary, and 9% in Montreal contributed most to the national increase in activity.
August marks the third consecutive month in which year-over-year sales rose by more than 15%, CREA said.
Prices also rose, although they were skewed higher by growing demand in Canada's more expensive housing markets. The national average price rose 11.3% from a year ago to $324,779 in August, CREA said.
A market weighted average shows a more modest 5.3% year-over-year rise in average prices.
"On balance, given the recent unbelievable strength in the Canadian housing market, the modest (month-to-month) down-shift in sales in August should not be seen as anything other that a brief respite in what has been a remarkable recovery in the sector," said TD Securities economics strategist Millan Mulraine.
"Even so, we believe that Canadian housing market activity in the coming months will be relatively tepid as the sector consolidates the gains made since January."
Canwest News Service

City Number of unit sales Change year over year
Calgary 2,324 +16.8%
Edmonton 1,673 +8.6%
Halifax-Dartmouth 584 +0.9%
Montreal (CMA) 2,870 +9.3%
Ottawa 1,227 +2%
Saint John 194 -18.1%
Saskatoon 393 +75.4%
Newfoundland and Labrador 472 -12.8%
Toronto 8,042 +27.3%
Greater Vancouver 3,496 +117%
Victoria 723 +47.6%
Winnipeg 1,080 -1.8%
Note: CMA census metropolitan area. Figures for Toronto include data for Mississauga, Brampton, Durham, Orangeville and York. Source:The Canadian Real Estate Association.

City Number of unit sales Change year over year
Calgary $388,725 -0.4%
Edmonton $318,321 -3.3%
Halifax-Dartmouth $231,203 4.1%
Montreal (CMA) $276,243 +5%
Ottawa $315,176 +11.5%
Saint John $166,117 +4.7%
Saskatoon $281,871 +0.9%
Newfoundland and Labrador $211,573 +12.7%
Toronto $387,899 +6.3%
Greater Vancouver $608,032 +9.1%
Victoria $481,279 +6.4%
Winnipeg $207,389 +8.6%
Note: CMA census metropolitan area. Figures for Toronto include data for Mississauga, Brampton, Durham, Orangeville and York. Source:The Canadian Real Estate Association.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Even Canada's real estate industry questions housing turnaround

Garry Marr, Financial Post Published: Thursday, September 10, 2009
Even the real estate industry in Canada is having a hard time swallowing the complete turnaround in the housing market.
A new survey from Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd. found more than a quarter of its agents do not believe the housing market's current strength is sustainable.
When 1,153 agents and brokers were surveyed across the country about whether they thought the housing market's recent performance was sustainable, only 707, or 61% said yes. Another 28% said no and 11% didn't know.
Canadian housing sales climbed 18.2% in July from a year ago and are now on pace to beat 2007 sales, a record year. The stunning turnaround comes after sales were almost frozen over the winter, with January activity at a decade low.
But declining housing prices and low interest rates, including a commitment by the Bank of Canada to keep them low, have been credited with turning the market around.
Among the real estate agents who don't believe the market is sustainable, 36% said the recovery will end when interest rates climb which they say is inevitable. Another 20% of those who don't believe in the housing recovery said there has not been enough job growth to sustain the real estate sector.
Overall, 66% of those surveyed said low interest rates were the number one reason behind the recent strength of the housing market. No other category even got a double digit response.
Phil Soper, chief executive of LePage, said the government's commitment to not moving rates until June, 2010 has been a key factor in the rising market.
"This principled stance has been received very positively by prospective homeowners," said Mr. Soper. "Together with numerous positive economic indicators seen over the course of the summer, we believe that the current health of real estate market is sustainable."

Friday, September 4, 2009

Latest Mortgage Rates @ Mortgage Success

Prime 2.25%
Open Variable Rate Mortgage 3.75%
Home Equity Line of Credit 3.25%
6 Month 4.60%
1 Year 2.75%
3 Year 3.65%
4 Year 4.09%
5 Year Variable Rate 2.55%
5 Year 4.19%
5 Year (must close in 30 days) 3.99%
7 Year 5.30%
10 Year 5.40%

OAC. Certain conditions may apply. Rate subject to borrower and property qualification. Rates may vary provincially and are subject to change without notice.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Worst is over for housing markets, economists say

John Morrissy, Financial Post Published: Wednesday, August 26, 2009
OTTAWA -- The worst is over for North America's beleaguered housing markets, with a steady stream of data out of Canada and the U.S. indicating the recovery is at hand, economists say.
"A similar pattern in both countries is unmistakenly suggesting we've not only bottomed in housing, but we're on the way back up," said TD Bank chief economist Don Drummond.
Canada's already brightening picture was helped along Wednesday by a report showing housing prices in major markets across the country jumped 1.5% in June, building on May's 2% advance.
The rebound in prices was evident even in most of Canada's hardest hit urban markets, like Toronto and Vancouver, the Teranet-National Bank report showed.
For National Bank senior economist Marc Pinsonneault, that means "the worst of home-price deflation in Canada is behind us," he said Wednesday.
"The improvement is consistent with the huge improvement in market conditions in most of the major cities in Canada," which show sales resales rising sharply - up 18% in July alone - and listings on the decline, Mr. Pinsonneault said.
The numbers out of the U.S. are also good, at least relative to bone-jarring declines that marked the subprime meltdown and drove housing prices 31% below their peak in 2006, Drummond said.
On Tuesday, the S&P/Case-Shiller composite index showed home prices in the U.S. also bouncing higher, for the second straight month.
And on Wednesday, the U.S. Commerce Department announced new-homes sales surpassed expectations by increasing 9.6% to 433,000 units in July, the biggest increase in more than four years and the highest level of activity in 10 months.
"The housing market has clearly turned the corner," BMO Capital Markets economist Jennifer Lee said in an interview.
"The items supporting a housing recovery have been working in tandem over the past while, and they are still going strong, like the Energizer bunny."
Renewed strength in the Canadian market was evident in four of six major markets tracked by the Teranet-National Bank survey. Vancouver posted its first price gain after 11 months of declines, up 1.6%; Montreal posted its fourth straight monthly increase, up 1.2%; Ottawa gained 2.1%; and Toronto recorded its second straight month of gains, up 2.3%.
Halifax and Calgary were the only laggards, each slipping 0.2%. For Calgary, it was the 12th consecutive losing month.
Economists were quick to point out that while the trend has shifted, markets on both sides of the border are way off previous peaks. In the U.S., for instance, about 600,000 new homes are being built annually, compared with the 2.3 million homes at the peak of the cycle.
Current conditions in Canada have created a seller's market, said Pinsonneault, although he expects greater balance to return as higher prices draw more properties onto the market.
Mortgage rates, meanwhile, won't rise over the next 12 month by more than 50 to 75 basis points from today's 5.85% posted rate on fixed five-year mortgages, he said.
One uncertainty is whether the Bank of Canada can hold lending rates steady, as promised, until the middle of next year, economists say.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Central banks signal low rates here to stay

Paul Vieira, Financial Post, with files from Reuters

Published: Monday, August 24, 2009

OTTAWA -- Despite growing confidence that economic growth is in the offing, monetary policy around the world is likely to remain "ultra-accommodative," perhaps until 2011, as doubt remains as to whether or not the growth expected this quarter is sustainable, analysts say.

That is the view emerging following the weekend gathering of the world's leading central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyo., highlighted by remarks from Ben Bernanke, U.S. Federal Reserve chairman, who warned of the uncertainties ahead, and Jean-Claude Trichet, president of the European Central Bank, who suggested he is in no rush to reverse emergency stimulus measures.

"The key message from Jackson Hole was ... that monetary policy is likely to remain ultra-accommodative for the foreseeable future - at least for the next several years," said Julian Jessop, chief international economist at Capital Economics of London. "It seems more likely that there will be no increases in interest rates in any of the major economies over the next 12 to 18 months."

Strategists at RBC Capital Markets concurred, adding in a note released Monday: "We continue to believe the economic backdrop will warrant a significant additional period of low rates.

Indeed, even at the Jackson Hole conference, there was not even a suggestion that we should be braced for anything other than that outcome."This outlook applies to Canada as well. Banc of America Securities-Merrill Lynch, as part of global report on monetary policy, said it does not expect the Bank of Canada to begin raising rates until 2011 - well past its pledge to keep the key policy rate, at 0.25%, until June 2010.

Canada has a significant output gap - the difference between potential and real gross domestic product - and the rate at which money is deployed in the economy, or money velocity, has shrunk 15% since late last year even though the central bank has taken its target rate to its lowest possible level, the BofA-Merrill Lynch analysis indicates."To compensate, we think the Bank of Canada will probably need to keep rates lower ... to ensure that money creation remains in the double-digit [growth] territory needed to reinflate the economy and close the output gap," the report says.

This outlook is similar to what economists at Laurentian Bank Securities suggested last week. They said a lack of pricing power for firms, a sizeable amount of excess supply and virtually non-existent upward pressure from labour costs means the bulk of policy tightening would not materialize until 2011.The Bank of Canada signalled in its last economic outlook that it expected economic growth to resume this quarter, marking, technically, the end of a deep but relatively short recession. It expects growth this quarter of 1.3%, 3% in the final three months of 2009, and the latter again in 2010. Further boosting the recovery story was data from Japan, Germany and France that indicated economic growth in the second quarter.But there are growing concerns about the sustainability of this emerging recovery.

In a note published last week, Olivier Blanchard, chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, warned of a difficult recovery that would take years to unfold as elements of the financial system remain dysfunctional. Of particular concern in his outlook was the source of demand once governments phased out fiscal stimuli. The worry is that U.S. business investment and household spending would remain weak, and Asian economies would fail to pick up the slack.

Still, some leading central bankers warn about leaving interest rates too low too long.Masaaki Shirakawa, governor at Bank of Japan, told his peers at Jackson Hole that policymakers must avoid economic bubbles fostered by expectations that interest rates will remain low. "Shirakawa's point about the need to prevent future bubbles is weighing more on minds of central bankers, so maybe they do have to be a little more careful," said David Cohen, director of Asian economic forecasting at Action Economics in Singapore.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tips for paying your mortgage off faster

While it may seem like a gargantuan task right now, one day you will be mortgage-free. To help that day come a little sooner, abide by some (or all) of the following steps:

1. Make a payment more than once a month.
While it may take a little bit of getting used to, paying weekly or bimonthly rather than once a month can save you thousands in accumulated interest costs and shave years off the life of your mortgage.

2. Pay the five-year fixed rate on your variable rate mortgage.
Historically speaking, variable rates have generally remained significantly lower than their five-year fixed counterparts. By employing a bit of discipline and paying the going five-year fixed rate on your variable rate mortgage, you'll likely be adding a few hundred dollars to your payment every month -- and that's going directly to your principle. Your ability to do this depends on your lenders pre-payment privileges so be sure to check with your lender to see how much you are able to pre-pay on your payments.

3. Stay away from 35-year amortizations.
While they're good to have as a back-up option -- a safety net to use if you lose your job, start a new business or go on maternity leave -- sticking with the 35-year amortization rate throughout the life of your mortgage means, well, you won't be mortgage free for another 35 years. When shopping for a home, make sure you can comfortably afford the 25-year amortization rate, and aim to use the 35-year rate as your emergency option.
If your lender allows this you could choose a 35 year amortization but pay extra every month so you're actually paying the mortgage over 25 years. This way you have the option of a lower payment should money become tight.

4. Take advantage of lump sum payments.
While very few Canadians ever make a lump sum payment on their mortgage, in most cases the option is available. If you receive performance bonuses with your current job, or if you're a commission-based employee that's raked in a little more than expected in the past year, consider placing the surplus towards your mortgage.

5. Shop around at renewal.
From term to term, mortgage rates will change. Make sure you're shopping around for the best rate possible, rather than merely re-signing with your existing lender.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fed's outlook brightens

Jeanne Aversa
Washington — The Associated Press Last updated on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2009 03:26PM EDT
The Federal Reserve delivered a vote of confidence in the economy Wednesday, saying it would slow the pace of an emergency rescue program as the recession appears to be ending.
The central bank also held a key banking lending rate at a record low near zero and again pledged to keep it there for “an extended period.”
In an upgraded assessment, the Fed said the economic barometers since its last meeting in late June suggest that “economic activity is levelling out.” Conditions in financial markets also “have improved further.”
The Fed said it would gradually slow the pace of its program to buy $300 billion worth of Treasury securities so that it will shut down at the end of October, a month later than previously scheduled. It has bought $253 billion of the securities so far.
The program is aimed at lowering rates on mortgages and other consumer debt, a move to spur Americans to spend more. But its effectiveness has been questioned by some on Wall Street and on Capitol Hill who worry that the program makes it look like the Fed is printing money to pay for Uncle Sam's exploding deficits.
A fairly weak auction of $23-billion in 10-year notes sent a clear signal that investors were waiting to see what the Fed had to say at the before making any big moves. The 10-year auction's bid-to-cover ratio, a measure of demand, was 2.49 per cent, down sharply from 3.28 per cent at a similar auction in July. Indirect bids, an indication of foreign buying, were lower than at recent auctions.
Meanwhile, economists predict the Fed will leave its target range for its banking lending rate between zero and 0.25 per cent through the rest of this year. The rationale: super-low lending will spur Americans to spend more, which would support the economy.
If the Fed holds its key rate steady, that means commercial banks' prime lending rate, used to peg rates on home equity loans, certain credit cards and other consumer loans, will stay around 3.25 per cent, the lowest in decades.
It was the first Fed meeting since the economy has flashed more definitive signs of turning a corner.
But dangers lurk.
Although consumer spending has stabilized, job losses, sluggish income growth, hits to wealth from tanking home values and still hard to get credit could make Americans cautious in the months ahead, the Fed said.
The Fed expressed confidence that its low rates and other aggressive actions so far will gradually help bolster the economy. Even so, economic activity probably will “remain weak for a time,” the Fed warned.
Against that backdrop, the Fed said inflation is likely to stay “subdued.” Fed policy makers predicted that idle factories and the weak employment market will make it hard for companies to jack up prices.
While unemployment dipped to 9.4 per cent in July, the Fed says it's likely to top 10 per cent this year because companies won't be in a rush to hire.
The Fed didn't make any changes to another program that aims to push down mortgage rates.
In that venture, the Fed is on track to buy $1.25-trillion worth of securities issued by mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by the end of the year. The central bank's recent purchases have totalled about $542.8-billion.
It also didn't offer signs about the fate of another program intended to spark more lending to consumers and businesses at lower rates.
The Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, which had gotten off to a slow start in March, is slated to shut down at the end of December. Despite the TALF, many people are having trouble getting loans, analysts say. More recently, the program was expanded to provide relief to the commercial real-estate market.
The Fed has been weighing whether it should end some of its revival programs now that signs are growing that the economy is on the mend.
Factory activity is improving. Home sales are starting to pick up, although much of the activity involves people snapping up bargain-priced foreclosed properties. Companies are cutting far fewer workers.
Some financial stresses also are easing, but lending is not flowing normally and financial markets aren't back to full throttle.
Many analysts believe the economy — which logged a mild contraction in the second quarter after a dizzying free-fall in the prior six months — is growing now.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bank of Canada maintains key lending rate


OTTAWA – The Bank of Canada today announced that it is maintaining its target for the overnight rate at 1/4 per cent. The Bank Rate is unchanged at 1/2 per cent and the deposit rate is 1/4 per cent.
The global economy has suffered an intense, synchronous recession and considerable excess supply has opened up. There are now increasing signs that economic activity has begun to expand in many countries in response to monetary and fiscal policy stimulus and measures to stabilize the global financial system. However, the recovery is nascent. Effective and resolute policy implementation remains critical to sustained global growth.
The dynamics of the recovery in Canada remain broadly consistent with the Bank's medium-term outlook in its April Monetary Policy Report (MPR). Stimulative monetary and fiscal policies, improved financial conditions, firmer commodity prices, and a rebound in business and consumer confidence are spurring domestic demand growth. However, the higher Canadian dollar, as well as ongoing restructuring in key industrial sectors, is significantly moderating the pace of overall growth.
Some of the early strength in domestic demand represents a bringing forward of household expenditures, which modestly alters the profile of growth over the projection period relative to the April MPR. The Bank projects that the economy will contract by 2.3 per cent in 2009 and then grow by 3.0 per cent in 2010 and 3.5 per cent in 2011, reaching production capacity in the middle of 2011.
Total CPI inflation declined to -0.3 per cent in June and should trough in the third quarter of this year before returning to the 2 per cent target in the second quarter of 2011 as aggregate supply and demand return to balance. Core inflation held up at 1.9 per cent in the second quarter of 2009. The Bank still expects core inflation to diminish in the second half of this year before gradually returning to 2 per cent in the second quarter of 2011.
While the underlying macroeconomic risks to the projection are roughly balanced, the Bank judges that, as a consequence of operating at the effective lower bound, the overall risks to its inflation projection are tilted slightly to the downside.
Conditional on the outlook for inflation, the target overnight rate can be expected to remain at its current level until the end of the second quarter of 2010 in order to achieve the inflation target. Consistent with this conditional commitment, the Bank will continue to conduct longer-term Purchase and Resale Agreements based on existing terms and conditions and according to the accompanying schedule.
The Bank retains considerable flexibility in the conduct of monetary policy at low interest rates, consistent with the framework outlined in the April MPR.
Information note:
A full update of the Bank's outlook for the economy and inflation, including risks to the projection, will be published in the MPR on 23 July 2009. The next scheduled date for announcing the overnight rate target is 10 September 2009.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Getting the Best Mortgage Rate

Globe and Mail update and Investor Education Fund Monday, Jul. 13, 2009 10:45PM EDT
Robert McLister, author of the Canadian Mortgage Trends blog and a mortgage planner, talks to Rob Carrick about finding a better rate for your mortgage

Click on the link below to view the video:

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Beyond boom and bust

From Monday's Globe and Mail Last updated on Tuesday, Jul. 07, 2009 07:31AM EDT

Unlike many other jurisdictions, Alberta can expect a reasonably speedy recovery from the global recession. The question is whether the toll exacted by the current turmoil will cause Canada's richest province to better prepare for future twists and turns, rather than simply riding the fortunes of its natural-resources industry.
Ed Stelmach, the Alberta Premier who has been cast even by some within his own Progressive Conservative Party as a hayseed, would seem an unlikely candidate to succeed at long-term economic planning neglected by some of his predecessors. But last week, Mr. Stelmach announced a serious attempt to come to grips with the province's economic prospects, appointing a blue-ribbon panel to help shape forward-looking public policy.
"It's to look well ahead to see whether the policies we have today will still serve us well into the future," Mr. Stelmach said in explaining the committee's purpose. "What are the challenges and opportunities that will define Alberta over the next three or four decades, and what conditions should the government put in place over the next three to four years?"
With such an ambitious mandate, there are no assurances that the panel will be able to get beyond the abstract, to put forward ideas that are practical for the government to implement. But Mr. Stelmach has given it a fair shot by attracting some of the best policy minds in the country. David Dodge, formerly the governor of the Bank of Canada and a federal deputy finance minister, is considered by some people to be Canada's top economist. Former foreign affairs minister David Emerson, who will chair the panel, is a leading expert on international trade.
The 12-member panel is not without strong Alberta representation, including former federal minister Anne McLellan and Jim Gray, a former oil executive who chairs the Canada West Foundation. But it speaks well of Mr. Stelmach's aims that he looked outside both his party and his province. With the provincial Conservatives facing little political competition, Alberta's government risks suffering from a paucity of fresh voices and ideas. People such as Mr. Dodge and Mr. Emerson will bring a new perspective, and help the province's challenges to be understood within a broader context.
The decisions Alberta makes in the next several years on everything from regulatory policy and taxation to areas of investment will help determine whether it is able to break the boom-and-bust cycle and enjoy consistent, long-term prosperity. The consequences of failing to manage the energy industry's growth, to improve Alberta's environmental record and diversify its economy, would likely not be felt until long after Mr. Stelmach leaves office. Given the degree to which the country's economic future rests upon the health of its wealthiest province, Canadians should be heartened that Mr. Stelmach is nevertheless trying to break from a pattern of short-term thinking.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mortgage defaults in Edmonton

Here is a link to a story that was featured on Global News last night regarding recent foreclosures in Edmonton. While foreclosures are on the rise, we are not even close to close to the situation in the United States!

Click on the camera below to view the video:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mortgage Dilemma

Peter Kinch, a mortgage broker in Vancouver was featured on CTV news yesterday! He answered viewers questions regarding the current interest rate climate. He answers questions such as: when is the time to lock in a mortgage rate? Is it possible to get out of a mortgage early without paying a penalty?

This is a very helpful video for individuals who are considering making the switch from a variable to a fixed rate mortgage, those looking to purchase a new home or individuals who have a mortgage coming up for a renewal in the near future.

Click the image below to view the video:

Monday, June 15, 2009

Don't handcuff your mortgage & Feds not likely to raise rates

Don't handcuff your mortgage
Gary Marr, Financial Post
Published: Saturday, June 13, 2009

Would you like to pay an extra $300 per month on your mortgage? Not likely.That hasn't stopped a number of Canadians, with the deal of a lifetime on a variable-rate mortgage, from switching over to a more expensive fixed-rate product and paying the extra freight.A fear of rising rates is driving the rash decision. But if you've finally managed to pin your banker to the ground, why on Earth would you let him off the mat?More than 28% of Canadians have a variable-rate product tied to prime, according to the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals (CAAMP). If you negotiated a deal before October of last year, chances are you are now borrowing money for as little as 1.35%. That's based on deals that at one point saw the banks giving 90 basis points off prime. Prime is now 2.25%.The average sale price of a home last month in Canada was $306,366. Based on a 25% downpayment and a 25-year amortization, your monthly payment would be $962.61 at 1.35%. Convert that to a five-year fixed-rate term and you're probably going to have to consider a 4% mortgage rate and a monthly payment of $1,289.04.Rates are rising fast. Most major banks upped their five-year rate by 40 basis points this week, although discounters were still offering 4% this past week."It's not a mass rush yet, but we are starting to see ... people locking in. But variable rates are still so good," says Joan Dal Bianco, vice-president of real estate-secured lending, TD Canada Trust. She stops short of questioning why a consumer would pull out of these "deals" that are no longer available on the market.Try to get a variable-rate mortgage today and the best you can probably hope to get is 60 basis points above prime, or 2.85%.The landscape changed dramatically in October during the credit crunch. As the Bank of Canada lowered rates, the major banks reluctantly lowered prime because of the massive amount of customers with variable-rate products negotiated under the old, higher terms."Bonds yields are going up rapidly and people are starting to realize the rates are going to go up," Ms. Dal Bianco says. Throw in the fact the Bank of Canada used the weasel word "conditional"(on inflation rates)when it promised not to raise rates until June, and you can understand why some people think today's record-low prime rate might not hold.But if you're someplace between 60 to 90 basis points below prime, the rate is going to have to go up pretty fast to justify locking in today at 4%, even though that is just slightly above the all-time low hit last month for a five-year term."I don't understand why you would lock in," says Jim Murphy, chief executive of CAAMP. "Sure, if they start to rise, but [Bank of Canada governor Mark] Carney says they won't rise, so you've got another year at that prime-minus rate."Don Lawby, chief executive of Century 21 Canada, says even when rates do start to increase, they are not going to jump significantly right away. You are not going to get 4% on a fixed rate again, but double-digit rates seem unlikely. "The only logic two locking in would be for someone very sensitive to any rate change and they just want to be secure," Mr. Lawby says.But at what price? If you're using the "feeling secure" logic, why not go for the 10-year fixed-rate product? Rates on that product can be locked at 5.25%, ridiculously low by historical standards. Yet fewer than 10% of Canadians consider a 10-year product.There are some compromises you can make. For starters, there is nothing to prevent consumers from having a blended mortgage at most Canadian banks. Some banks will let you take half your outstanding debt and lock it in. Diversity is preached for stock portfolios, but few people seem to adhere to the same philosophy when managing their debt.Consumers might want to take their cue from business. Few companies would want all of their debt coming due at the same time -- it presents too much risk. The other option is knocking down principal: Make payments based on a 4% rate and have that extra $300 go straight to your principal every month.The bottom line is if you've got a deal on your mortgage, why would you give it back?Dusty wallet Double check your credit card statements. DW is in a bit of a skirmish with Visa over a taxi cab bill. Of course, DW is too cheap to use cabs, but does succumb to them to get to and from airports on vacation. Last trip, the family took an airport limousine and paid the $56 charge. Guess what? The same amount was billed a month later. So far, the taxi cab company has yet to produce a second receipt. In the interim, DW had to pay the second $56 charge.gmarr@national-post.

Fed not likely to raise rates
Peter Hodson, Financial Post

Recently, there has been some loud talk about inflation and how the U. S. Federal Reserve is going to have to start raising interest rates soon in order to nip inflation in the bud.When first confronted with this news, you may have said, "Hogwash! No way in this economic backdrop could the Fed raise rates, slow down growth and risk sending us into a steep 'double-dip' recession."That certainly would be my view. It's unclear at this point even if we are coming out of recession, so it really would be premature to slow things down at this point before any growth traction has been achieved.However, let's not just make assumptions. Let's delve into history to see what the Fed has done in prior cycles.The last U. S. recession was from March, 2001, to November, 2001, a period of eight months. The Fed funds rate was 6.5% from June, 2000, to January, 2001. In January of that year, the Fed lowered the rate to 6%, then went on a 12-month lowering frenzy during the recession and in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. By year-end 2001 the Fed funds rate was 1.75%, with the Fed still maintaining an easing bias.Despite the official ending of the recession in November, 2001, the Fed maintained very low interest rates for almost three more years. In fact, it kept lowering rates, down to 1% from June, 2003 to May, 2004. This strategy of keeping rates low despite no recession is now widely blamed as the reason for the creation of the housing bubble that popped in 2007. The Fed finally raised rates in June, 2004, a full 30 months after the recession had ended.In the recession of July, 1990 to March, 1991 (eight months) the Fed had been easing or maintained a neutral bias since February, 1989. At the start of that recession, the Fed funds rate was 8.25%. By the end of the recession, it was down to 6%. Again, despite the recession being over, the Fed kept jamming rates lower, all the way down to 3% in December, 1993. The Fed didn't raise rates again until February, 1994. In that recession, again the Fed kept lowering rates for 30 months after the end of the recession.Going back further into history, in the recession of July, 1981 to November, 1982 (16 months) the Fed acted a little more quickly. In May, 1981 the Fed rate was 20.0%. By December of that year, the Fed had moved rates down to 12%. In the spring of 1982, though, rates were back to 15%. But, showing signs of confusion, by the end of the summer 1982, rates were much lower, at 9.5%. The Fed was tightening rates again by September, 1982, and for a period of time investors had no idea what to expect, as the Fed moved rates up or down seemingly at random for a period of 18 months.In the energy crisis of the early 1970s, the recession lasted from November, 1973, to March, 1975 (16 months). In November, at the start of the recession the Fed funds rate was 9.00% but by May, 1974, because of inflation fears the Fed had already raised the rate to 13%. Recession fears, however, ultimately ruled the day, and by year-end 1975 the Fed rate had been cut in half, to 4.75%. The tightening began anew, however, in April, 1976, 13 months after the official end of the recession.What can we conclude? One, it seems sometimes that the Fed is just winging it, moving rates at random in response to short-term events. But it does seem the Fed is unwilling to raise rates too quickly after any recession.Based on the severity of this economic downturn, you would have to conclude the Fed is unlikely to risk a double-dip recession, and will keep the Fed funds rate very low (now 0% to 0.25%) for a long time.This may, of course, cause inflation, but for the time being, that is still better than a giant de-leveraging economic death-spiral. - Peter Hodson is a senior portfolio manager at Sprott Asset Management.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Interest rates going up, up, up

Here is an excerpt from an email recently sent by a lender rep:

… I believe we are in for a couple spikes… Last week, mortgage rates went up 20 bps and this week another 40 bs, that’s 60 bps in total. The sub -- 4% 5 year Mortgage Rates in Canada are now GONE... GONE … Long term (10 year treasury bonds) bonds in the US are near 4%, up 2% from 6 months ago… the longer term (30 year) bonds are getting very close to the magic 5%, that the cash guys want… there is also speculation out of the States that these same 30 year US treasury bond could go to 7% or 8%.... This all effects the same Canadian Bond Yields which are up similarly...I don't want this to sound alarming… but we all need to be aware of the impact of the pushes in the bond yields… it is a sign that the 'Cash Guys' want more… thus this will lessen spreads (Mortgage Rates vs Bond Rates) and push the lenders (like us) to move rates… Like I have said before… I would suggest that you contact your clients --- ones 'sittin on the fence' because they believe one or both of the following:" I think rates are going to go lower and I don't want to pay more than I have too… ""… house prices are coming down, I want to wait and get best deal…"
As you all know these are the best of rates in the last 1/2 Century or so… this is the time to get your clients the best rates… lock the rate… the bottom is rising. I want to ensure that you are able to assist your clients in getting the best deal… and NOW is the time

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Importance of Life/Disability Insurance

Below is an interested article outlining the importance of purchasing life/disability insurance for your mortgage. Most lenders offer their own, internal insurance. Mortgage brokers also offer life/disability insurance!

Ensure you're insured
Buying a home? Don't forget to sign up for mortgage insurance
Denise Deveau, Canwest News Service

June Jell will never forget the time she and her husband, John, sat down with their agent and turned mortgage insurance down flat.
Six months later, he died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 59, leaving her struggling to keep up with house payments.
While she got back on her feet eventually, it wasn't without sacrifices along the way --including the family home.
Now, she tells everyone she knows, "If you can get it, take it. We thought mortgage insurance was expensive at the time and because of our age, believed we could handle everything."
In retrospect she realized, "It really wouldn't have been that expensive after all. It would have been a blessing."
Insurance of any kind is one of those things people like to put on the back burner or do without.
"A lot of homeowners don't want to add the cost of insurance to their mortgage payment," says Feisal Panjwani, a senior mortgage consultant with Invis Inc. in Surrey, B. C.
"One of the biggest mistakes they make when they sign their mortgage is declining insurance, thinking they will research it on their own.
"Nine times out of 10, they don't get around to it. Then when something goes wrong, it's too late."
It's not surprising some homeowners balk at mortgage insurance, especially when they feel they are already stretching their monthly payments to the maximum.
Especially in these economic times, however, you can't afford to be without it, says Jennifer Hines, vice-president of creditor insurance for RBC Insurance.
"Clients at all stages need to make sure their mortgage is protected," she says.
"Some have life and disability insurance, but the family still could be left holding a debt on what tends to be a person's largest individual debt obligation."
The ideal time to look at options is when you do your mortgage application. The most common are insurance tied to the mortgage itself or to the lender. Tying insurance to a mortgage balance is usually preferred since you can switch lenders and keep the same policy.
This reduces the risk of facing higher premiums or finding out you are uninsurable when you reapply at another bank, says Lorne D. Greenwood, a real estate lawyer based in Milton.
"Getting insurance through an independent broker to cover the same amount means you won't have to re-qualify with each mortgage," he says.
This is also a good choice when your mortgage balance decreases and you want to reduce your premiums.
Mr. Panjwani notes that it's especially important for first-time or younger buyers to get coverage because the mortgage balance is high, insurance premiums tend to be in their favour and medicals are not generally required.
For those who think their disability and life insurance policies are enough if things go wrong, that may not be the case, warns Ms. Hines.
"Typically, disability policies will only pay 60% to 70% of your monthly income, so there is still a gap," she says.
"You still need coverage for other expenses. We tell people it doesn't have to be an either/or situation.
"We also suggest they consider whether they need to top up what they have, so they don't have to be concerned about mortgage payments if there is a death or disability."
When it comes to high-ratio mortgages, according to the Bank Act, anyone borrowing more than 80% of the value of the property must insure the mortgage to protect the lender against defaults.
The premium for this default insurance (not to be confused with conventional mortgage/life insurance coverage) is paid once at the time of the closing, at a rate that varies between 0.5% to 3.75% of the mortgage amount.
Title insurance is also an increasingly important option for protection against title problems and fraud.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Merix Financial launches the 50/50 Wise Mortgage

Merix has just launched a new product for borrowers that aren't sure wether they should choose a fixed or a variable rate mortgage. If you are interested in this product please feel free to contact me anytime!

Here are the details:
The MERIX 50/50 Wise Mortgage
"...the wise choice in today's economy"
Don't choose between Fixed and Variable. Choose Both!
- 50% of mortgage amount is at current 5 year fixed rate pricing (now at 4.09%)
- 50% of mortgage is at current 5 year ARM pricing (now at Prime +.40%)
Ideally suited for:
- Customers who are unsure whether to go Variable or Fixed. This product eliminates the biggest dilemma facing mortgage borrowers in today's economy.
- Customers who want a low interest rate and are more risk-averse than a typical adjustable rate mortgage client. The weighted average interest rate on this mortgage is approximately 3.38% given today's current pricing! And only 50% of the mortgage is subject to interest rate risk.

Additional Features:
- Only one charge is registered (conventional charge, not collateral).
- Each portion operates independently of each other in terms of payment frequencies, prepayment privileges, and prepayment penalties.
- Each portion has the usual 20/20 prepayment privileges.

- The adjustable portion can convert to a fixed rate at any time without penalty, HOWEVER, the term cannot be extended.

Rate Hold:
- 120 days rate holds on purchases, 60 day refinances.
- No Transfers/Switches permitted.
- No pre-approvals offered.

Additional Info:
- Max amortization is 35 years
- Max LTV is 95%

Friday, May 29, 2009

First Time Home Buyers Should be Prepared

Here is a good article warning first time home buyers of the extra costs involved in purchasing a home. All of the lenders that I deal with ask the borrower to prove that they have 1.5% of the purchase price in addition to their down payment. The lenders use this 1.5% as an estimate of closing costs. Lending institutions want to know that you have some money to pay for all the costs involved in closing a real estate transaction. So, when you are putting your down payment together keep in mind that you'll need to save an extra 1.5% in order to qualify for the mortgage.

First-time home buyers should be prepared, rather than surprised, by extra costs
TORONTO - First-time homebuyers are scouring the market for deals, hoping to take advantage of lower prices but real estate and mortgage experts caution that shoppers need to consider the wide array costs that come with buying a home - including ones that aren't immediately obvious.
They say it's part of a planning process that should start long before the house hunt begins.Dianne Usher, division vice-president for Royal LePage, says first-time buyers need to run through a checklist of the essential services that will add extra costs to their bottom line.
"Some of the costs that people tend to forget about, or are unaware of, are legal fees," she said."They're going to need a lawyer to search and confirm title to the property, physically close the transaction, to register and prepare any charge or mortgage documents.
"They're going to arrange for title insurance, which for some lawyers is an additional cost."Then there are other factors, like initial property deposits, which are part of down payments, Usher said. Those can increase up-front costs by as much as five per cent, she suggested.It's a confusing process for those who haven't done it before, which is why it's best to start planning early."When I get a client sitting down with me, we actually have a closing cost sheet," said Jeff Mayer, an agent at Mortgage Intelligence, a Toronto-area mortgage broker.He said making a detailed list helps potential buyers determine whether they can afford that dream home they always wanted, or if they should scale back their expectations to something more reasonably priced.
Mayer said his sheets break down monthly expenses and assess general affordability factors. He said he'll ask clients to determine their maximum, medium and "comfort level" mortgage approval."You want to look at the actual payment on that house, meaning the mortgage with mortgage insurance," he said."You want to look at what your average household costs are - meaning the heat, hydro, gas, maintenance on the property, and from there you want to see if that's something you can sleep with at night.""I always tell my clients to downgrade whatever they want to buy. So if they want to buy $500,000 buy $450,000.
"Usher said that homebuyers need to choose a knowledgeable local realtor with a good reputation."It's always good to choose a realtor that has been referred to you by somebody who has been pleased by their service," she said."In some major urban centres there is a higher level of activity than a suburb environment. Sometimes the buyers can get caught up in a frenzy and not do their homework."Once a deal is secured, and financing worked out, there can be other surprises along the way, Usher added."The physical cost of moving is often more than two cases of beer and five pizzas," she said.And "a resale unit may be untidy, so it might be necessary to arrange for some professional cleaning to be done.
"For new home buyers, the Ontario government plans to blend the federal GST with the provincial sales tax next year, which could significantly increase the final price.On new homes, where GST is already included, the tax harmonization will apply another eight per cent provincial tax to houses worth more than $500,000.
New homes worth under $400,000 will not face the additional tax, while those between $400,000 and $500,000 will pay the tax but get a rebate.However, Usher noted that there are some refunds for first-time homebuyers, including a provincial land transfer tax rebate of up to $2,000.In Toronto, where there is also a municipal land transfer tax, first-time buyers can get up to $3,725 back.Some provinces also offer "green incentive" rebates for energy efficient homes.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Regulations for Home Inspectors Near?

In an article recently posted in the Calgary Herald, the Alberta government is considering creating regulations for home inspectors. If regulation becomes a reality, Alberta will become the second province in Canada to do so. B.C. is the only province which licenses it's home inspectors.
Currently, in Alberta, there are no rules ensuring that an inspector is qualified to inspect the home. The province of Alberta is considering creating minimum training standards, liability insurance requirements and specific requirements on all inspection contracts.
Read the full article HERE.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

CMHC sees home building decline in '09, slow rebound after

But the Crown corporation foresees no return to the lofty, pre-economic crisis level of 200,000-plus starts a year

Globe and Mail Update
May 19, 2009 at 2:57 PM EDT

OTTAWA — The days of Canadians clamouring for new houses won't return even after the economy resumes growth, according to the latest long-term forecast from the federal housing agency.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says housing starts are expected to decline to 141,900 this year – down from 211,056 last year, and a distinct contrast to several years seeing more than 200,000 new homes spring up.
Next year, building activity will rebound somewhat, with 150,300 new homes predicted to be going up.
“The outlook for the housing market is uncertain for the near term due, in large part, to continuing economic volatility,” CMHC says.
CMHC says housing starts are expected to decline to 141,900 this year – down from 211,056 last year.
But even when the economy turns positive again, housing starts will climb back only slowly, to reach 176,800 units by 2013.
“We do not expect housing starts to return to the 200,000-plus-unit pace of recent years,” the long-term outlook states. “Rather, housing starts will remain in a range that is consistent with demographic fundamentals over the 2010 to 2013 levels.”
That's not bad news, however. The frantic building of the past few years won't return because the downturn Canada's housing market is experiencing right now won't be so long and deep as to build up significant demand, CMHC explained. So when the economy improves, home builders won't have to jump into overdrive to meet the demand of hungry buyers.
Home prices and volume sales of existing homes are likely to follow similar trends, CMHC says.
The national average price for a home is projected to fall 6.8 per cent this year to $283,100 before stabilizing next year, CMHC predicted.
It sees the number of houses resold through the Multiple Listing Service declining to 357,800 units this year, from 433,990 in 2008, but increasing slightly next year to 386,100 units.
The CMHC forecasts are actually the midpoint of a wide range of expectations from the Crown corporation, reflecting the huge uncertainty about the direction of the Canadian economy, mortgage rates, employment and income.
CMHC's expectations for average home prices and the volume sales of existing homes are somewhat more pessimistic than projections made by the Canadian Real Estate Association last week.
CREA sees a 5.2-per-cent decline in the average home price in 2009. The association expects the number of homes sold to total 370,500 this year and 397,000 next year.
The CMHC projections are generally in line with forecasts from the private sector. While some economists see a deeper downturn in the housing market this year, most agree with CMHC that the market will stabilize by next year, and only gradually move back to housing activity that is consistent with long-term demographics.
Canada's growing population demands about 170,000 new homes a year. Given deterioration of old homes, the Canadian economy can sustain about 180,000 housing starts a year over the long term, said Pascal Gauthier, economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank.
He sees a much steeper drop in average home prices this year than CMHC because TD's outlook on the Canadian economy is gloomier than most. Like CMHC, however, he sees a slow recovery, but not a return to the days of more than 200,000 housing starts a year.
Housing market dynamics vary considerably by region.
Part of the reason for the feverish pace of home building in recent years was rampant demand in booming Western Canada, CMHC notes. Now, the West faces deeper declines in home construction than the rest of the country – although Ontario is also facing steep drops.
Across the country, housing starts are expected to decline 32.8 per cent this year, with a 53-per-cent drop in Alberta, a 42.5-per-cent slide in British Columbia and a 50.2-per-cent decline in Saskatchewan. Ontario's home construction activity is expected to be 31.6-per-cent lower this year than in 2008.
Next year, all provinces should see at least some increase in building activity, CMHC predicted, and nationally, home construction activity will pick up by a moderate 5.9 per cent.
For single detached homes, Saskatchewan and Ontario will see the biggest declines this year, while British Columbia and Alberta are expected to lead the rebound next year.
As for home prices, they will likely be stable in Atlantic Canada this year, but in decline everywhere else, especially in British Columbia and Alberta – where prices had risen the most in previous years.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Bond Rates

Have you been watching the bond market? If so, you might have noticed that the bond yield was at 1.82% last Friday and today it is 2.09%. The increase in bond yield is something to watch to get an indication of where rates are heading. If the bond yield continues to go up, the spread will continue to shrink and this could be a trigger for interest rates to rise.
Check the following link

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

April Market Stats

The Realtors Association of Edmonton just released their April market statistics. By the sound of it, things are sitting pretty here in Edmonton. There were more properties sold in Edmonton this April than April of 2008. Not to mention, the average sale price is only down by 7.40% when compared to April of 2008. I'm happy to see that Edmontonians aren't buying into all the doom and gloom projected by the media!

Here's an excerpt from today's news release:
The average* price of single family homes in the Edmonton area was up 1% from March but, at $353,386, was still 8.5% below the last April price of $386,033. Condo prices were up 2.4% from last month to $236,020 while duplex/rowhouse prices were up 5.2% at $291,068.
“Increased sales activity is evident in most real estate offices and some REALTORS® are reporting multiple offers on select properties,” said Charlie Ponde, president of the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton. “However, inventory is still relatively high and sellers should price their properties aggressively to attract offers.”
“REALTORS® are optimistic about the Edmonton market,” said Ponde. “In-migration figures are positive, retail sales in Alberta are still higher than the rest of the country and unemployment figures are lower than other parts of Canada. First-time buyers are entering the market because of historically low interest rates and renovation incentives are encouraging move-up buyers to consider relocation.”

Friday, May 1, 2009

CAAMP's May Statistics

Here's the May 2009 edition of the CAAMP statistics. CAAMP (Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals) is a national association and publishes this great statistics page every month which shows a quick overview of the real estate market across Canada. The stats include a one year history of the Bank of Canada rate announcements, Government of Canada bond rates, total new housing starts across the country (compared to one year ago) as well as the change in Canadian house prices in each major city over the last year.If you want to stay on top of the real estate market this is a great resource!Review CAAMP's statistics HERE.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Don't jump the gun on mortgages

Globe and Mail Update
April 23, 2009 at 6:00 AM EDT
What a sweet time to be arranging a mortgage – we've got the lowest rates anyone can remember and they'll be around for months to come.
So don't rush into any decisions regarding a new mortgage, a renewal or an existing mortgage you're thinking of breaking. The great recession mortgage sale isn't even close to being over.
The Bank of Canada has records going back to 1950 on average fixed-rate, long-term mortgage rates and the best deal was 5 per cent back in early 1950. Today's posted five-year mortgage rate at the big banks is 5.45 per cent – low, though not the lowest. But discounted five-year rates today are commonly under 4 per cent, which suggest the best on record.
Variable-rate mortgages are even cheaper. The Bank of Canada rate announcement earlier this week took mortgages taken out in the past eight months or so down to about 3.05 per cent, and to less than 2 per cent or thereabouts on older, variable-rate mortgages set up before the financial crisis started to bite.
With a recession raging, the consensus among rate watchers is that there's no reason for mortgages rates to move higher any time soon:
Eric Lascelles, chief economics and rates strategist at TD Securities: “My inclination is to say mortgage rates are likely to remain unusually low for some time.”
Will Dunning, chief economist for the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals: “I don't really see rates moving a whole lot.”
John Panagakos, mortgage broker in Toronto: “My best guess is that rates will stay where they are for the next 12 months.”
If anything, rates could fall slightly in the months ahead thanks to signs of a thaw in the financial market freeze-up that has raised the cost of mortgages and lines of credit in the past six to eight months.
Mr. Dunning said rates on five-year mortgages are typically pegged at 1.1 to 1.2 percentage points more than the five-year Government of Canada bond yield. The spread between the two ballooned out to an average of 3.07 points in 2008 and has since fallen closer to two points.
“There is room for further compression, which could bring mortgage rates down a bit more,” he said.
Mr. Panagakos has noticed something similar happening with variable-rate mortgages, which 18 months ago could be had at your bank's prime lending rate minus 0.7 to 0.8 of a point or so. Hard-pressed banks started offering variable-rate mortgages at prime plus 1 per cent last fall, but lately there are some lenders offering these loans at prime plus about 0.6 per cent.
Historically low five-year rates prompt a question if you've got a variable-rate mortgage: Is now the time to use the escape clause in your loan agreement and lock into a five-year mortgage?
If you've got one of those great old variable-rate mortgages with a discount off prime, the answer is no. Borrowing costs would have to rise close to two percentage points to put you on par with a five-year mortgage today at a great discounted rate.
Rates will eventually start to rise, but it's worth noting the Bank of Canada's comments in this regard. Facing a worse-than-expected economy, the central bank said it would keep its benchmark lending rate steady for as long as a year if need be. If the bank's overnight rate stays put, expect the prime rate at the major banks to more or less do likewise.
The question of whether to lock in more recent variable-rate mortgages – those sold at prime plus a markup – requires more thought because of the cheapness of five-year rates right now.
“If you're looking at the bottom of the market and you want five years of security, there's definitely nothing wrong with a 3.95-per-cent rate,” said Gary Siegle, regional manager with the mortgage brokerage firm Invis in Calgary.
Low mortgage rates also offer an opportunity for people to break their existing loan agreements and slash their interest costs. Mr. Panagakos believes the penalties are prohibitively expensive for people who are only a year or two into mortgages they want to break. If you have money to cover the penalty, he suggests you use it to pay down your principal.
Another approach to breaking a mortgage: Wait until you have 12 months or less until maturity and ask to renew early at no cost. Still another: Inquire about a blend-and-extend, where you roll an existing mortgage into a new loan at a rate that blends your existing rate with current rates.
Whatever you do, enjoy the rare luxury of time afforded by these recessionary, low-rate times. Shop your new mortgage and your renewal around, and remember that a few years from now today's rates will look freakishly low.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

CHRONOLOGY-Bank of Canada rate changes since 2000

TORONTO, April 21 (Reuters) - The Bank of Canada lowered its overnight rate by 25 basis points on Tuesday to a historic low of 0.25 percent. The central bank also took the unusual step of providing guidance on rates, saying it will keep the key overnight rate at 0.25 percent until mid-2010. In addition, it made no explicit commitment to taking unconventional measures to spur the economy even as it forecast a deeper recession than it had previously expected. The central bank's next rate announcement is due June 4.

BOCFAD The following is a chronology of the Bank of Canada's
changes to the overnight rate since 2000. Moves are measured in
basis points (bps), each of which equals one-hundredth of a
percentage point:

April 21 - Cut 25 bps to 0.25 pct
March 3 - Cut 50 bps to 0.50 pct
Jan. 20 - Cut 50 bps to 1.00 pct
Dec. 9 - Cut 75 bps to 1.50 pct
Oct. 21 - Cut 25 bps to 2.25 pct
April 22 - Cut 50 bps to 3.00 pct
March 4 - Cut 50 bps to 3.50 pct
Jan. 22 - Cut 25 bps to 4.00 pct
Dec. 4 - Cut 25 bps to 4.25 pct
July 10 - Raised 25 bps to 4.50 pct
May 24 - Raised 25 bps to 4.25 pct
April 25 - Raised 25 bps to 4.00 pct
March 7 - Raised 25 bps to 3.75 pct
Jan. 24 - Raised 25 bps to 3.50 pct
Dec. 6 - Raised 25 bps to 3.25 pct
Oct. 18 - Raised 25 bps to 3.00 pct
Sept 7, - Raised 25 bps to 2.75 pct
Oct. 19 - Raised 25 bps to 2.50 pct
Sept 8 - Raised 25 bps to 2.25 pct
April 13 - Cut 25 bps to 2.00 pct
March 2 - Cut 25 bps to 2.25 pct
Jan. 20 - Cut 25 bps to 2.50 pct
Sept. 3 - Cut 25 bps to 2.75 pct
July 15 - Cut 25 bps to 3.00 pct
April 15 - Raised 25 bps to 3.25 pct
March 4 - Raised 25 bps to 3.00 pct
July 16 - Raised 25 bps to 2.75 pct
June 4, - Raised 25 bps to 2.50 pct
April 16 - Raised 25 bps to 2.25 pct
Jan. 15 - Cut 25 bps to 2.00 pct
Nov. 27 - Cut 50 bps to 2.25 pct
Oct. 23 - Cut 75 bps to 2.75 pct
Sept. 17 - Cut 50 bps to 3.50 pct
Aug. 28 - Cut 25 bps to 4.00 pct
July 17 - Cut 25 bps to 4.25 pct
May 29 - Cut 25 bps to 4.50 pct
April 17 - Cut 25 bps to 4.75 pct
March 6 - Cut 50 bps to 5.00 pct
Jan. 23 - Cut 25 bps to 5.50 pct
May 17 - Raised 50 bps to 5.75 pct
March 22 - Raised 25 bps to 5.25 pct
Feb. 3 - Raised 25 bps to 5.00 pct
(Compiled by Ka Yan Ng)