Market Update, March 22
Is buying a home a dream for first-time buyers? In the new budget out this week the centerpiece of Ottawa’s housing plan is to help first-time buyers with their new zero-interest loans on the following terms:
1. CMHC will offer mortgage loans up to 10% of the purchase price of newly built homes and 5% of the value for existing homes. This incentive is in addition to the buyer’s own down payment. Your household income must be $120,000 or less. The overall value of the mortgage and CMHC loan won’t be allowed to exceed four times the household income. With that cap of $480,000 ($120,000 X 4) the highest-value home that could be purchased under the plan would be about $500,000. (Not much help for buyers in Toronto with average prices for homes and condos exceeding that amount.)
2. Your household income must be $120,000 or less.
3. The deadline to repay the loan wasn’t specified but it was designed to be a long-term measure. The loans will be available starting in September.
4Also, first-time buyers will now be permitted to borrow up to $35,000 from their RRSP’s, up from $25,000, the limit set 10 years ago.
This program might be good for small cities across Canada, but from a market perspective, it will not be a game changer for the housing market in the GTA. The freehold market continues to tighten with a further drop of 34% in available listings since the previous week because of the spring break. Given fewer listings, we weren’t surprised that the number of sales slipped by 24%. There is no surprise that of those properties sold, 45% sold at or above the asking price. The number of new condo listings saw no change from the previous week, but sales were up slightly by 3% and of those sold, 51% sold at or above the asking price. We are gearing up for what we believe to be an active spring market with plenty of qualified buyers waiting to find their dream home.