Flaherty raises some specific actions he could take to cool Canadian housing

For the first time since he initially acknowledged concern over a potential bubble in Canadian housing markets, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has openly indicated in an interview for CTV’s Question Period that higher down payments and shorter amortization periods are both on the table “if” there is further evidence of a bubble.

“If we see further evidence that there’s excessive demand in the housing market, or that there’s an indication that people are taking on obligations that they will not be able to handle in the future when interest rates do rise, then we’ll take some action,” Flaherty told the CTV.

Historically low interest rates intended to spur economic activity have pushed demand for homes higher resulting in sharp price increases in many Canadian markets. Near record level activity in our largest and priciest markets, Vancouver and Toronto has helped push the average selling price of a Canadian home to $368,665 (according to the Canadian Real Estate Association) , roughly twenty-percent higher than it was at this time last year.

“The likely action we would take is to increase the size of the down payment from five percent to a higher amount and probably, once again, reduce the amortization period. So, bring it down from a maximum of thirty-five years to something less than that,” Flaherty said.

I’m going to guess that December’s sale numbers will continue to fuel concern and bring us closer to seeing at least one of these changes implemented. Also uncertain is whether these changes would take effect immediately or if they would be effective at some future date.

Thanks to @JenCT for the heads up.

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Real estate geeks can follow our daily updates on Twitter @norm_fisher.

Our Saskatoon home search tool offers MLS listings represented by all real estate brands, presented with more detail than you’ll find anywhere else. Check it out here.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Greater risk in Canadian housing markets remaining hot than cooling down: TD

TD Bank Financial Group released a “Resale Housing Outlook” yesterday that provides some insights into the potential consequences of the quick recovery that the Canadian housing market experienced over the past year. It’s a pretty interesting, “where we’ve been, where we may be headed” report. Some of the ideas that caught my attention from the report are outlined below. The full five-page report can be found here.

While in the thick of a recession, the strongest countervailing force that set the stage for the mother of all rebounds, apart from lower prices, was lower interest rates.

All said, the housing market has gone beyond retracing its steps and fully recovering from the end of 2007 – which had marked the peak of a half-decade long boom, concentrated in Western Canada…As of October, both sales and the average price stood 5% higher than their respective 2007 peak…But now that home values are already past their previous peak in such short order, we estimate that the typical home remains overvalued by 12% at the national level. Unfortunately, sheer momentum suggests that this overvaluation is likely to increase over the course of the next few quarters, peaking at 13-15% in H1/2010.

The misalignment of home prices with their fundamental drivers, such as demographics and income, cannot last. That much is known…Because a necessary realignment has been erased so quickly without support from income growth, another adjustment must take place – although it could take many forms. As of our writing this note, early signs of market cooling are emerging and our analysis still suggests the most likely outcome is a soft landing and relative stagnation of home values in real-terms along with a resumption of stronger income growth over the 2011-13 time frame.

As the central bank begins to hint at a tightening monetary policy cycle in the second half of next year, sales could well see a last gasp of strength. Moreover, by that time, the availability of units on the supply side should provide a relief valve helping to cool price growth. And, by 2011, while the overall economy will have improved significantly, housing markets will be losing momentum.

While current price levels are above what we estimate to be long run fundamental values, they do not appear so dramatically out of line as to warrant a sharp correction in the near-term…As for price momentum, it is more clearly unsustainable…Recall that every price increase that is not matched by a commensurate income gain increases the overvaluation gap. Second, more supply should come online in the first half of 2010 in the form of new home and condo completions.

The current market tightness, as measured by the sales-to-listings ratio (limited inventory), while expected to ease gradually over the course of 2010, will not turn on a dime. As a consequence, it will be supportive of price growth in 2010 that is stronger than fundamentals can support over the long haul. After climbing by an estimated 4-5% on an annual basis this year, the average existing home price is expected to gain another 9-10% in 2010 as sales climb to 475K.

In closing, we note that the most important downside risk to our near-term forecast is not that the market cools more than we anticipate. While this risk certainly exists, it would not cause significant market disruptions, and it would ensure that affordability does not continue to erode at the current pace. The risk is rather that the market remains as hot as it currently is for too long, eventually running head-on into monetary policy tightening (and longer term bond yields rising). There is more than adequate time for the housing market to cool before then, but history suggests that if it fails to do so, the ensuing adjustment would be a rude awakening.

Thanks to Larry Yatkowsky of Vancouver’s Yatter Matters for the heads up on this report. See Larry’s overview, “Green Chair Talks.

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Real estate geeks can follow our daily updates on Twitter @norm_fisher.

Our Saskatoon home search tool offers MLS listings represented by all real estate brands, presented with more detail than you’ll find anywhere else. Check it out here.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Lake Placid will miss City of Saskatoon's payment deadline

Media Release

Release: Immediate
Date: Friday October 30, 2009
Contact: Mike Lobsinger, Chief Executive Officer Lake Placid Group of Companies

(Saskatoon, SK, Canada): Michael E. Lobsinger, Chief Executive Officer of the Lake Placid Group of Companies, announced today that Lake Placid is in a situation where delays have arisen around the deadline with the City of Saskatoon. For this, Lake Placid sincerely apologizes.

International finance is a complex and time consuming process. Lake Placid continues to work with its international financier to provide the $200 Million credit facility that is required for the development of Saskatoon River Landing.

All development and legislative approvals were not obtained until May 2009. Pursuant to the lender’s written financial commitment, the financing is still expected to arrive but will not do so in time to meet the October 30 deadline. The City of Saskatoon will be advised that although Lake Placid is not in a position to meet today’s deadline, it may be in that position very shortly.

It is particularly unfortunate that circumstances beyond the control of Lake Placid have resulted in missing this important deadline. Lake Placid has spent two years and over $7 Million planning this premier development which includes payment to the City of Saskatoon of over $700,000. Lake Placid has received significant interest from the local community for the purchase of residential properties, and from commercial tenants and hoteliers. They will be contacted directly.

Lake Placid would like to thank all of the supporters of this project including the City of Saskatoon administration, City Council and the Mayor’s office for their significant support in the progress made to date. In addition, Lake Placid would like to thank the Premier of Saskatchewan and the appropriate Ministers who worked diligently to pass the necessary amendments to the Condominium Properties Act and the Land Titles Act which allow for the development of mixed use projects in Saskatchewan. Without those legislative amendments which were passed in May 2009, this project could not have proceeded.

Lake Placid believes in the future of the great city of Saskatoon and has every intention of developing there in the near future. The company thanks everyone for their patience and understanding in this matter.

Grocery store to open in downtown Saskatoon

Renovations are already underway on the main level of the 2nd Avenue Lofts in downtown Saskatoon. According to a media release issued by The Partnership yesterday, the retail space located at the corner of 2nd Avenue North and 23rd Street East will be home to the Uptown Market, a full service independent grocery store which will also house a deli and a coffee shop.

A British Columbia businessman, Rexy Silva and his daughter, Tabitha will operate the Uptown Market and offer a full selection of fresh produce, meats, eggs, dairy products and other essentials. They hope to have the 5,200 square foot grocery store open by Christmas of this year.

Saskatoon’s Central Business District has been without a grocery store since late 2004 when the Extra Foods on 3rd Avenue North closed its doors.

Learn more about the Central Business District.

If you live in Saskatoon we’d sure appreciate hearing your comments about your neighbourhood. Please visit our “Saskatoon neighbourhoods” page and let us know what you love about your community.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Saskatoon Trades and Skills Centre to undergo major expansion

The trades training centre at Mount Royal Collegiate will undergo a $3.6 million dollar expansion in a joint effort between the federal and provincial government according to a story on the Star Phoenix website. Nearly $3.2 million dollars in funding will be provided by Western Economic Diversification Canada while the province contributes roughly $366,000.

“In order to ensure we continue our economic growth and to build a more diverse, dynamic and cosmopolitan community, both in Saskatoon and right across the province, we need to make sure that more people have more education and more skills training and that way they can help to sustain the growth. The Saskatoon Trades and Skills Centre Inc. will help meet the demand for skilled tradespeople in the province and expand Saskatchewan’s economic opportunities,”  said Rob Norris, minister of advanced education, employment and labour.

Star Phoenix story here.Learn more about the Mount Royal area of Saskatoon.
Visit the Saskatoon Trades and Skills Centre website.

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions. All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Follow our daily updates on Twitter @Norm_Fisher.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate