Should other governments follow BC’s lead on first time buyer loans?

The Province of British Columbia has recently introduced a program that will provide no interest no payment loans to help first time buyers get in the market. On first glance, this seems to be an attractive program and one that helps these buyers and the real estate market as a whole…but does it really help?

How it works:
The government is promising to match down payment funds with a loan up to $18,750 with no interest or payments for 5 years. Presumably, in year 6 the buyer would start repaying this loan or 2nd mortgage in a manner similar to the Federal homebuyers plan (HBP) where a buyer repays the amount used for down payment back in to their RRSP over a maximum period of 15 years.
This certainly helps gets buyers in to homes and helps them gain that first step on the property ladder.

Does it really help the buyer or just create further debt?
Some say that these programs are useful to a degree but like any loan…eventually, it must be paid back and further indebts the borrower…so does it really help the first time buyer? In in growth market, these types of loans are usually absorbed in higher ongoing house prices and corresponding equity growth but what if market prices plateau or drop?

Does it help the market balance or simply keep the upwards pricing trajectory?
The BC market has been hit with many sources of turbulence this year and affordability is a major concern. The government clearly feels that programs like these are needed to both help buyers get in to the market and keep a source of new home owners entering the market which helps the whole market grow (or at least maintain itself). Other monetary moves have restricted new foreign buyers and affordability and new mortgage rules have pinched the supply of new buyers entering the market which combined could have a negative effect on market health.

Other circumstances being considered:
Organized real estate through its associations has been lobbying governments to both index the amount of the HBP and widen the application of RRSP funds to other life circumstances in addition to the first time buyer program. Examples include those relocating to take up employment and those who become disabled. (although other circumstances have been mentioned in the past ie divorce/separation, caring for a family member and so forth)   While one can see how these programs could be useful to the home buyer at the time…does it not simply grow indebtedness and continue the upward price cycle of housing?
The persons using the program would have further savings capabilities curtailed while they are repaying the funds used out of the Retirement funds and losing the investment and growth value also. While it certainly helps on the housing side is it a good thing for the overall investment picture and does it put too many “eggs” in the housing “basket”?

It would not be surprising to see that there may be some appetite for a BC like program in Toronto where prices are high but we’ll have to wait and see what rolls out and how the program and BC’s real estate market fares.

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
613-435-4692  @oasisrealtyOTT

Quality service at lower fees equals better value!



Fed spending and headcount continue to hike home sales in Ottawa


…overall prices though…not so much!

October 2016 yielded another pretty good month in Ottawa real estate, buoyed by continued growth in Federal government headcount and spending. Sales were positive in the month of October with new home sales and condo’s leading the way.

New home sales up 18.5% year-to-date:
The new home segment has seen a major surge this year and that is good news for builders. Some of these sales may challenge the resale market which is pretty flat in average price this year, although the number residential units sold is up 6.0% so far this year. Average selling prices are ahead only .9% overall for residential at $396,109.

Condo sales much better this year, up 9.1%
Condo sales on MLS® (which also includes some new construction sales but not all) where up a whopping 27.2% in October and are showing a 9.1% increase year-to-date but average prices are again pretty flat with the average price sold at $259,925 unchanged.

Listing inventory pullback has helped the market:
The number of new listings this year is down by about 7% overall and current inventories show the number of residential listings down 16.7% at the end of October and condo listings down 14.1%.   Rental listings were also down by 28.9% at month’s end.
This has moved us away from some very high listing inventory levels experienced over 2014 and 2015 and keeps us in a much more balanced market.

How long does it take a property to sell in Ottawa?
Our days-on-market to sell the average property has increased slightly to 58 days for residential properties (up from 55) and 73 days for the average condo (up from 68 days last year). This is a key statistic for those considering a sale to study in detail for their own area, as it is critical in assessing both marketing timelines and listing pricing.  A Realtor can provide up to date and detailed information in this regard.

Most popular pricing categories:
The $300,000 to $400,000 price category is the most active/popular range, followed closely by the $200,000-$300,000 price category.
Overall, 80% of residential sales in Ottawa are done at lower than $500,000 and 75%+ of condo sales are done at less than $300,000. These types of ratios are important for sellers to consider when listing, as it determines the size of the potential market for their property.

What’s next?
We are entering the quieter period for real estate in Ottawa and while sales should continue strong vs previous years, the months of November-February are our 4 slowest months of the year. Sellers will want to carefully review pricing and competitive factors prior to listing their property for sale during this period.

Now may be best time to buy new construction for 2017 delivery:
Buying new construction may be optimal at this time of year for closings in summer 2017, as those with existing homes to sell, will be able to sell in the busy spring market.
First time buyers will have more months to save and also possibly be able to use their 2016 tax year RRSP contribution for their down payment, in addition to getting the 2016 tax break.

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage