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Canada’s Housing Market Begins the Year with Slightly Positive Price Trends
Unprecedented combination of low interest rates, flattening house prices and strengthening economy provide support to Canada’s housing market
TORONTO, April 4, 2013 –The Royal LePage House Price Survey released today showed that house prices remained relatively flat in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the first quarter of 2012, recording that the average price of a home in Canada increased between 1.2 per cent and 2.4 per cent. An unprecedented combination of flat or in some regions decreasing house prices, inexpensive mortgages and the confidence brought on by an improving economy has resulted in a unique residential real estate environment.
In the first quarter of 2013, the national average price of a standard two-storey home increased 2.2 per cent, compared to the previous year. Over the same period, the national average price of a detached bungalow increased 2.4 per cent and the average price of a standard condominium increased 1.2 per cent.
“2013 finds the Canadian housing industry in a highly unusual place. The combination of very low mortgage rates and flat home prices, against a background of general economic improvement across the nation, is not something we’ve seen before,” said Phil Soper, president and chief executive of Royal LePage. “Typically one of these variables is moving hard in an opposite direction. While some have spoken loudly about impending market volatility and dramatic downward pressure on home prices, we are simply not seeing evidence of this. The current environment is very supportive for housing. Those waiting for big declines in home prices will likely be disappointed.”
The Canadian economy stabilized during the first quarter of 2013 and the country surpassed expectations with the addition of 51,000 jobs1 during the month of February. Domestic economic strength is buttressed by an improving U.S. economy and the expectations of a growth in resource consumption driven by China. At the same time, despite the improving economy, the Bank of Canada has been clear about its intention to keep interest rates low for the near- and mid-term.
1Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, February 2013. < http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/130308/dq130308a-eng.htm >.
“There is some degree of uncertainty regarding the of length time these factors will remain in place,” said Soper. “Of the three variables we identified, economic strength is the most likely to persist based upon the upswing in employment, our well-educated workforce, a solid financial sector and the influence of our natural resource sector. Given recent and repeated signals from the Bank of Canada, we can expect interest rates to remain low for some time to come. The continued stability of house prices is much harder to gauge.”
“Timing house prices to trends in a given neighbourhood is very difficult,” said Soper. “And it is important to remember that Canada is a collection of regional markets. Case in point, we see renewed strength in the Alberta and Saskatchewan markets in early 2013, based on the health of the energy sector. Across the mountains in Vancouver, affordability concerns dampened demand significantly. The resultant correction in home prices there may attract a new round of buyers before year end.”
Regional Market Summaries
In the first quarter of 2013, Halifax continued to experience consistent growth, with significant prices increases across housing types surveyed. Detached bungalows made the highest leap, increasing 7.8 per cent year-over-year to $294,667. St. John’s witnessed some of the highest average price gains in Canada, with two-storey homes rising 10.6 per cent. This was due in large part to an upswing in activity by move-up and executive buyers purchasing higher priced homes.
Montreal home prices remained relatively flat in the first quarter 2013. Standard two-storey homes saw the largest increase of 1.4 per cent to an average price of $392,929, while standard condominiums experienced the smallest rise of 0.4 per cent to $240,044.
Ottawa’s real estate market remained relatively flat, with house price gains ranging from 0.8 to 1.9 per cent. While standard condominiums saw the largest price gains, unit inventory for this housing category shot up 41 per cent compared to last year.
Toronto posted moderate growth in the first quarter, with average price gains of 1.8 to 4.0 per cent for housing types surveyed. The quarter saw a slight decrease in volume, even among first-time home buyers, who are traditionally the most active group. At the same time, multiple offer situations and bidding wars were still taking place in some areas of the city.
The 2013 real estate market was off to a strong start in Winnipeg. Detached bungalows posted the largest increase of 6.9 per cent to $302,896. Multiple offer and bidding war situations remain prevalent, with 35 per cent of listings selling above asking price.
With inventory yet to catch up to an influx of first-time buyers moving to the city, Regina continued to see strong price increases. Standard two-storey homes saw the highest increase, rising 12.7 per cent year-over-year to an average price of $337,000.
Low inventory also put upward pressure on prices in Calgary, with increases of 5.1 to 6.8 per cent for housing types surveyed. Although they experienced the smallest price increase, standard condominiums were the most active housing category in the first quarter of 2013. In contrast, Edmonton prices remained relatively flat with price changes ranging from a decrease of 0.2 per cent to an increase of 1.7 per cent across surveyed housing types.
Vancouver posted year-over-year decreases of 5.1 to 5.6 per cent across housing types. The market witnessed an overall reduction in activity from both buyers and sellers, which continued to drive prices down.
Royal LePage’s quarterly House Price Survey shows the annual change of prices for key housing segments in select national markets. Click here to download the chart
About the Royal LePage House Price Survey
The Royal LePage House Price Survey is the largest, most comprehensive study of its kind in Canada, with information on seven types of housing in over 250 neighbourhoods from coast to coast. This release references an abbreviated version of the survey which highlights house price trends for the three most common types of housing in Canada in 90 communities across the country. A complete database of past and present surveys is available on the Royal LePage website at www.royallepage.ca. Current figures will be updated following the complete tabulation of the data for the first quarter of 2013. A printable version of the first quarter 2013 survey will be available online on May 3, 2013.
Housing values in the Royal LePage House Price Survey are Royal LePage opinions of fair market value in each location, based on local data and market knowledge provided by Royal LePage residential real estate experts.
Royal LePage Q1 2013 House Price Survey – Data Chart
About Royal LePage
Serving Canadians since 1913, Royal LePage is the country’s leading provider of services to real estate brokerages, with a network of 14,000 real estate professionals in over 600 locations nationwide. Royal LePage is the only Canadian real estate company to have its own charitable foundation, the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation, dedicated to supporting women’s and children’s shelters and educational programs aimed at ending domestic violence. Royal LePage is a Brookfield Real Estate Services Inc. company, a TSX-listed corporation trading under the symbol TSX:BRE.
For more information, visit www.royallepage.ca.
For further information, please contact:
Director, Global Communications & Public Relations
Royal LePage Real Estate Services
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Here is our May Real Estate Update for Our Home Toronto: You’ll note average April prices are up 9% vs 2011 for a new all time high average GTA price of $517,556 & volumes are up 18% vs 2011 for April sales of 10,350 homes sold, an interesting article on How To Optimize Curb Appeal, Personal Finance … HST and your Real Estate investment, a MUST read … How and Why it’s less expensive to buy a home today than it was 20 years ago! and the ever popular Pearls of Wisdom … Enjoy and do let us know if you would like to receive this update by email.
For loads of Listings and free information on buying or selling Visit OurHomeToronto
Mark Weisleder … Lawyer, Author, Lecturer, Key Note Speaker … wrote this terrific article on why now is a perfect time to buy a home. This blog, website and social media extensions are all resources to help you know who are the perfect Realtors to assist you in your home searches and sales.Visit http://www.OurHomeToronto.com for lots of new listing choices and free tutorials on buying or selling your home. We Specialize in homes & condos in OurHomeRosedale.com, OurHomeYorkville.com, OurHomeAnnex.com, OurHomeCabbagetown.com, OurHomeMoorePark.com
I believe there has never been a better time to buy a home. I’ve been in the industry for 28 years as a lawyer and I haven’t seen so many positive signs for housing, whether you are thinking or buying or locking in a mortgage.
Mortgage rates at historic lows: They can’t get any lower. Four to five-year fixed mortgages at 3 per cent are unheard of. It is lower than the variable rate that most Canadians have been paying for years. Rates have nowhere to go but up, either later this year or next. If you are paying a variable interest rate, lock in now.
Canada’s appeal: This country has everything going for it — a stable banking and political environment, steady real estate market, the natural resources people want and few social tensions. That makes us a safe haven in a volatile world.
Our immigrant draw: Because of the above, we’re a draw for immigrants, often wealthy ones. When they get here, they need a home. So in my view while the real estate market may level off in some areas of Ontario, it should stay strong in most of the GTA and likely Canada’s other large urban centres as well.
Mortgage defaults: According to CMHC, over 99 per cent of Canadians pay their mortgages on time. It quite a different picture in the U.S. where 7 million homes are in foreclosure and perhaps another 7 million homeowners are under water. This represents almost 15 per cent of all homes. So while the American housing market will likely be weak for the next few years, this should not occur in Canada. Our banks are not dumping homes onto the market, so there is no downward pressure on prices.
Recourse Mortgages: In many U.S. states, if you can’t pay your mortgage, the only thing the bank can do is foreclose; they cannot sue you for any shortfall. So when homes go under water, owners give the keys back to the bank. In Canada, loans are almost all Recourse, meaning if you don’t pay and there is a shortfall, the lender can sue you for the difference. This is another reason why, in my opinion, even if times do get tough, Canadian homeowners will find a way to make the payments until things improve.
Income-to-price ratio: Another misleading statistic is that in major markets, like Toronto, the average price of a home is now 4.6 times the income of the average Canadian. This same statistic was found just before the U.S. and UK markets went into the tank. However, if you look at median incomes of Canadians against the median cost of homes, this average comes down to around 3.5, which is not dangerous. Using averages are wrong. A person receiving social assistance will not buy a home, and should not be included in any relevant statistic.
High consumer debt: The warnings about rising debt ratios must be examined carefully. The Governor of the Bank of Canada is worried that the average personal debt ratio is now 156 per cent in Canada. This means a household making $100,000 per year, owes $156,000, two-thirds of which is mortgage debt. Why is this so bad? At an interest rate of 3 or even 5 per cent, the amount needed to service the debt is manageable. Most people do not pay off their mortgages in one year. Still, this is another good reason to consolidate your debt now, at these low interest rates, and lock in.
No guarantees: Nobody can predict the future and there’s always the possibility of a major economic shock. Yet, in a U.S. presidential election year, politicians will do whatever is necessary to prevent it. If the economy goes into the tank, so do re-election chances. The U.S. is already showing signs of economic recovery.
Also read: 20 things to look for in a home inspection
No matter what, do not take on a monthly payment higher than what you can afford. Meet with your lender or mortgage broker in advance to figure out what you can afford before you start looking for a home. It may be the best time to buy, but you need to buy smart.
My Chartered Accountant Robert Gold and his firm Bennett Gold LLP put out a very useful monthly Business Bulletin. From time to time we will offer his findings and wisdom as it applies to your financial management. More can be learned at their website http://www.bennettgold.ca/
If you are considering refinancing to renovate or you are Up-Sizing or Down-Sizing please give us a call and visit our informative website http://www.OurHomeToronto.com … We are at your service! James Metcalfe REALTOR® BROKER
RRSP season is heading into full swing and many Canadians are going through the annual angst trying to decide if it is better to contribute to their Registered Retirement Savings Plan by the February 29 deadline – and get the tax deduction — or apply the money to help pay down their mortgage.
A Few More Tips
The dilemma is particularly vexing these days. The ratio of household debt to disposable annual income is at an all-time high of 153 per cent and Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney has said he expects it to increase. So it may be no surprise that a recently published poll showed that paying down debt is the top financial priority among Canadians. Managing day-to-day spending and retirement planning took second and third place, respectively.
However, age played a major role in those results. The survey, conducted for CIBC, found that debt repayment was a particular priority for respondents between the ages of 25 and 44, who tend to have more debt and less money to save.
But as we get older, priorities change and it becomes more important to work toward ensuring a comfortable retirement. Respondents between the ages of 45 and 64 put retirement planning at the top of their list.
When it comes to debt, it is often a mortgage that is our largest burden. And unlike our neighbors in the United States, we cannot take a tax deduction for mortgage interest. Thus the rush here to pay down mortgages as quickly as possible. On its face, that plan seems to make financial sense.
For example, on a 6.5 per cent, $100,000 mortgage amortized over 30 years you’re going to pay approximately $126,000 in interest. That makes it tempting to pay down the debt and forsake the RRSP — at least for a while. And, of course, every year you are in debt, real cash is being drained from your savings account.
On the other hand, regular contributions to your RRSP provide tax-deferred compounding and a tax deduction that gets you a refund. Of course that refund helps create a future tax liability because when you retire you will have to pay tax on the withdrawals of your contributions and the money they earned while in the RRSP.
Nevertheless, you can still take advantage of the refund now by putting it in an account where it will compound tax free. That could be either your RRSP or a Tax-Free Savings Account, where you could keep it as a reserve to help pay those later taxes. The refund can also be applied to your mortgage.
When it comes to your mortgage, do the math and consider these three options:
But there or other possibilities: If paying down your mortgage quickly is a priority, consider bi-weekly payments. You will make 26 payments rather than 12. As a result, you’ll make one additional payment each year that is applied to the principal of the loan. You save thousands of dollars in interest costs and shorten your amortization period.
To calculate the benefits, divide your monthly payment by two and multiply it by 26 (or divide the monthly payments by four if you want to make weekly payments, then multiply by 52.) If your monthly mortgage payment is $800, or $9,600 a year, your bimonthly payment would be $400 every two weeks and $10,400 annually. The following chart illustrates how you can save more than $20,000 with bi-weekly payments:
|Payment Frequency||Number of Payments||Interest Costs ($)||Principal Payments ($)|
20 years, 9 months
Accelerated mortgage payments notwithstanding, there is another way to pay down your mortgage while building up your RRSP.
Consider that same 25-year mortgage with the $670-a-month payment, and let’s assume that you:
- Are in a 40 per cent tax bracket;
- Have $500 a month left after paying all your budgeted items and putting money aside for emergencies;
- Have $5,000 to use as a lump-sum contribution to your RRSP or apply to your mortgage; and
- Are trying to decide whether to put the extra money into your RRSP, with 6.5 per cent assumed annual earnings, or apply it to your mortgage.
Using an RRSP vs. mortgage calculator that you can find online, you will discover that the $5,000 lump sum and the extra $550 a month payment would produce these results:
- The amount of the mortgage and interest would drop by $79,436.42 and your amortization period would drop to 8.83 years.
- Investing in the RRSP would generate the same amount of money over the same period plus tax savings of about $23,200.
- Using the tax savings to pay down your mortgage would lower the amount of the home loan with interest by $60,143.12 and your mortgage amortization period would decline to about 14.25 years.
In this specific scenario, you would get the best of both worlds: On top of the after-tax value of your RRSP, you would save in mortgage interest costs and reduce the term of the loan.
The decision between paying down a mortgage and investing in an RRSP is very personal and should be made with the help of your accountant, taking into consideration all of your other financial needs and goals.
1 Source: Mortgage Wise Booklet, Canadian Bankers Association through Bennett Gold Chartered Accountants LLP
If every car in North America got the same fuel efficiency as my Toyota Prius there’d be no need to import any oil into North America and there’d be no need to drill for oil in the Gulf of Mexico or the Arctic!
More than a century ago, Henry Ford’s original Model T got 25 mile per gallon (mpg). Fast forwarding through a 100 years of head spinning, relentless technological progress and today the average SUV in North America gets 17 mpg. So we’ve been going aggressively backwards into the future!
When oil hit $US147 a barrel in 2008, the US was transferring $700 billion a year to the Middle East for oil imports, the greatest voluntary, unnecessary transfer of wealth in human history.
2. Oil Subsidies Globally total $US700 Billion a year
$700 billion a year is spent subsidizing oil and gas companies worldwide. Of the top 20 most profitable companies worldwide in 2009, seven were oil companies and their cumulative profit was equal to the profit of the other 13 companies combined.
Why are government subsiding the most profitable industry in the world? The most profitable companies in the world? With the global debt crisis, why are governments still handing out oil and gas subsidies?
The $700 billion a year of oil subsidies does not include the $100 billion a year the US spends defending Persian Gulf shipping lanes to ensure the flow of oil to the US, nor the cost of the Iraq war, which Nobel economist Joesph Stiglitz estimates to be $US2.7 to $6 trillion in total (not an annual figure).
3. Cutting Carbon is Profitable
A study by McKinsey & Company shows that cutting carbon is highly profitable: 40% of North American carbon cuts required to meet the Kyoto Protocol targets would generate a profit and, if that profit was reinvested in the next least-cost options, we’d get all the way to the Kyoto goals at no cost to society.
Business leaders should take note, this isn’t a radical environmental group, it’s the pre-eminent management consulting firm worldwide. This categorically dispels the myth that going green is expensive because cutting emissions increases the efficiency of businesses, of homes and society as a whole thus providing a huge economic benefit to the economy. The study shows that there’s no single silver bullet; instead there’s silver buckshot – made up of very highly profitable energy efficiency solutions.
Investing $2 trillion from now till 2020 – would provide an Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of 17%, according to The Case for Investing in Energy Productivity, a separate McKinsey & Co study. This rate of return is better than the historical return for investing in property and stock market over the long term!
4. Efficiency of North American electricity generation could be tripled
A staggering two-thirds of the energy from coal, gas and nuclear power generation in North America is wasted in the form of heat that’s vented up smoke stacks and cooling towers. By contrast, combined heat and power (CHP) or co-generation, increases the system efficiency from 33% to 90% by using the “waste” heat used to heat buildings, homes or stored at high temperature underground. Denmark obtains 55% of its energy from cogeneration and waste heat recovery, the highest installation of CHP worldwide.
5. Going Green Great for the Bottom Line
GE launched its ecomagination initiative in 2005 and by 2011 had sold $70 billion of green products and services; $25 billion of that in 2010 alone. GE has committed to doubling its investment in its green offerings to $2 billion a year for the next five years.
Walmart is investing aggressively in energy and fuel efficiency. The $500 million it’s investing in sustainability projects have a payback of four years or less and has become an incredible profit engine for the corporation. Walmart embarked on this initiative in 2005 and is now saving more than $500 million a year – all of which is driven to the bottom line.
Walmart works on 3% net profits so to make another $500 million of profit the corporation would have to sell an additional $16.7 billion in goods! Even for the largest retailer in the world in the midst of a recession, this would be a challenge.
6. Turning PCs off at night saving Dell $1.8M/year
A staggering 50% of North America’s 108 million corporate PCs and monitors are left on overnight and on weekends wasting up to $4 billion of electricity a year. Many IT departments instruct users to leave PCs on 24 hours so that patches and upgrades can be pushed out overnight. But new power management software from companies like 1E, Verdiem and Faronics allows IT departments to put PCs to sleep at the end of the day or when they’re unused. IT professionals can easily wake up computers at 3 am to centrally push out patches, upgrades and new virus definitions, then put all computers back to sleep before waking them up again at 7 am before employees arrive. Dell Computers is now saving $1,8 million a year having implemented this for its’ 50,000 computers. This approach offers paybacks on average of six to 12 months.
Going Green is highly profitable
Going green is highly profitable for three reasons: it cuts costs, reduces risk against rising energy and electricity prices and can increase revenue because a large segment of consumers want to buy products and services from green companies.
Jim Harris is an internationally renowned business speaker and environmental speaker. He is the author of Blindsided, a #1 international bestseller published in 80 countries worldwide. He speaks at 40 conferences a year around the world. You can reach him through Linkedin.com or follow him on Twitter @jimharris