The red-hot housing market over the last several months pushed many buyers fighting through bidding wars to put in unconditional offers at high prices.
But now that the market is cooling, some are ending up with mortgages that can’t cover the full cost of their home following an appraisal.
Toronto-based mortgage broker Mary Sialtsis says there are “very few options” for these buyers.
“In the last couple of years, but especially in the last couple of months, I’ve had a few different clients that have dealt with this situation,” she told CTV’s Your Morning on Friday. “Unfortunately, there are very few options when you’ve purchased a property with no conditions and no financing conditions.”
Nationally, home prices fell 6.26 per cent between March and April 2022 after peaking in February, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. That’s meant some buyers are ending up with mortgages that are more than $100,000 shy of what they need.
In some cases, especially when the down payment from the buy is 50 per cent more, Sialtsis says the lender may just move forward with the mortgage based on the original price of the home, even if the appraisal is a lot lower.
“It’s a case-by-case situation,” she said.
Another option may be to get a second mortgage from a private or alternative lender. But if no other option works, buyers can try and negotiate a mutual release, which usually means forfeiting the deposit.
“For most, they end up going to the bank of mum and dad,” said Sialtsis. “I highly recommend if anyone is in this situation, reach out to your mortgage professional immediately.”
Sialtsis warns that putting in offers without any financing conditions puts buyers at a huge risk, as the buyer is legally bound to close the deal regardless of whether they’re able to get a sufficient mortgage.
“I really don’t think buyers fully understand the impact of those unconditional offers when they submit an offer to purchase a property,” she said. “It becomes a legally binding contract and that buyer is expected to close on the closing date. So, that’s one of the reasons why there’s very few options for this.”
But the cooling housing market isn’t all bad news. For those looking to buy a home, Sialtsis says now is a good time to jump in as buyers have a lot more leverage to negotiate.
“For many Toronto-area buyers, where often we’re dealing with multiple offers… it might be a good chance for you to get in and get a decent property with less competition or no competition and the opportunity to actually include a financing condition,” she said.
Real estate: 27 per cent of homeowners accessed credit, survey finds – CTV News
A new survey exposes balance sheet vulnerabilities for some Canadian homeowners amidst rising interest rates.
Released by BNN Bloomberg and RATESDOTCA, the survey found that 27 per cent of homeowners who participated have accessed a home equity line of credit (HELOC). Almost 80 per cent of those participants have used it, and half of them said they have done so in the last two years.
Aside from the pressure of increased interest rates, HELOCs are complicated by new real estate loan guidelines announced by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions on Tuesday. In late 2023, borrowers will be required to pay principal and interest on combined loans above 65 per cent of the property value.
Prior to these guidelines, HELOCs were an ideal way for homeowners to tap into their home equity during the prior decade’s low interest rates and high home prices, but the survey findings suggest that the Bank of Canada’s recent interest rate increases might have changed the way older Canadians leverage their home value. With HELOCs being based on variable-rate interest, borrowers will be hooked to higher payments.
Since HELOC lenders are able to demand full payment at any time, this can raise concerns for consumers who have not set aside extra money to pay down their HELOC amidst the pressure of rising interest rates.
According to the survey, 58 per cent of respondents said they have an outstanding balance on their HELOC.
Although the majority said they borrowed less than $50,000, 10 per cent said they borrowed more than $100,000. Balances of at least $50,000 were more common for Canadians aged 55 and older.
Of the 1,507 Canadians surveyed, 65 per cent said they were homeowners.
With files from BNN Bloomberg and RATESDOTCA
In Ontario, real estate buyers are holding out for a price cut – The Globe and Mail
The stalemate that is taking hold in the Ontario real estate market right now arises from a belief that is becoming more entrenched each month: buyers reckon prices have farther to fall.
House hunters see properties in some areas selling at 15 per cent or so below the high-water mark set in the first quarter and decide to hold off for an even steeper discount. Sellers either refuse to budge or feel the landscape shifting under them and rush to complete a transaction before more ground crumbles away.
The war in Ukraine, stubborn inflation and the rise in interest rates have precipitated a much more tumultuous real estate market than industry watchers were predicting even a few months ago, according to John Lusink, president of Right at Home Realty.
Mr. Lusink says sales for June are set to come in about 26-per-cent below even his conservative projections at the start of the year, continuing a trend that has been on a downward slope since February.
“We can throw that forecast out the window,” he says of his projections for 2022.
The landscape is the same across the Right at Home network, which spans 12 regions of Ontario.
The number of listings, meanwhile, is gradually increasing after a slow spring, he adds.
Mr. Lusink expects the final tally for Right at Home’s sales in June to show a 37-per-cent drop from the same month last year.
“It’s, needless to say, concerning.”
Rishi Sondhi, economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank, points out that sales and prices have fallen disproportionately in Ontario and British Columbia, where prices climbed the most during the pandemic. The retrenchment in activity is especially hard in the Greater Toronto Area, where investors have played a particularly large role in the past year.
The downturn is part of a worsening picture across Canada, as sales and prices continued to decline in May under the weight of higher interest rates, Mr. Sondhi points out. Some sales were likely pulled forward to late 2021 and early 2022 as people braced for higher rates, he adds.
The economist says some GTA buyers also likely purchased new homes before selling existing properties, expecting the market would remain hot, he adds. Those sellers may be forced to accept lower prices now in order to complete the new deal, but he expects that dynamic to run its course before too long.
Mr. Sondhi is forecasting a continuing decline in prices throughout the rest of the year as a reflection of sharply higher interest rates.
Alongside the buyers betting that prices will slide, Mr. Lusink says, stands another cohort ready to buy – but the task has become much harder with the rise in rates. One buyer Mr. Lusink spoke with recently had obtained a fixed-rate mortgage at 4.3 per cent, which is almost double the rates buyers were able to lock in just a couple of years ago.
The mortgage “stress test” requires borrowers to show they can handle mortgage rates approaching seven per cent and above, he points out.
A recent survey commissioned by Right at Home also shows a shift in attitudes: Only 19 per cent of potential first-time homebuyers in Ontario plan to buy in the next two to three years, compared with 30 per cent who planned to buy in 2021, according to the study.
The percentage of homeowners planning to sell who are doing so to take advantage of current market conditions increased to 23 per cent this year from 11 per cent last year, the data shows.
The Maru Public Opinion Survey polled 813 Ontario adults in May and has an estimated margin of error of plus or minus three per cent 19 times out of 20.
In Burlington, Ont., real estate agent Tanya Rocca is already seeing homeowners preparing properties for sale before the fall market arrives.
“It’s very busy right now,” says the agent with Royal LePage Burloak Real Estate Services. “People are panicked.”
Ms. Rocca says prices in the area which have dropped between 12 and 15 per cent from the February peak.
The average price of a freehold property dropped to $1.431-million in May in Burlington, she says, compared with the $1.51-million buyers were paying in April and the $1.6-million in February and March.
The affluent city, which sits on Lake Ontario west of Toronto, was one of the many communities that saw a large influx of buyers during the pandemic as people sought more space. Burlington’s historic downtown core and large selection of detached houses with pool-sized lots have made it very popular with families.
Ms. Rocca says many buyers didn’t even have a chance at a house in the midst of ferocious bidding wars; now people have their choice of properties.
Some current sellers have been caught in the market transition, Ms. Rocca adds, because they bought a new property before selling an existing one.
“Buyers, in fairness, are getting the power back – which they love,” she says. “There are great opportunities out there because people need to sell.”
Ms. Rocca was shocked at some homeowners earlier this spring who were disappointed on offer night when they received bids that came in $300,000 or $400,000 above the asking price.
“People were debating whether they should take it.”
She recalls one pair of homeowners with a home backing onto a golf course who listed their property with an asking price of $2.5-million. The sellers were disappointed they didn’t receive a hefty amount above asking.
“They got their asking price literally the week things started to shift,” Ms. Rocca says. “They were so close to not taking it.”
As the summer begins, it’s not uncommon to see listings sitting with 30 to 50 days on market, she adds.
In the current environment, Ms. Rocca recommends setting a price near the realistic market value. She often “sharpens” it a little bit to make it more attractive compared with other competing properties in the area.
To help homeowners come to terms with the new reality, she stresses that first-quarter prices were the result of an overheated market – not an accurate reflection of value.
“This is not money they’ve lost – they never had it.”
Ms. Rocca says some people who purchased properties in Burlington at the beginning of the pandemic are now being called back to offices in Toronto. With more cars on the road and the price of gas skyrocketing, many are reluctant to commute.
“People were making such rash decisions during COVID,” she says, adding that some of those folks are now selling and moving back to the GTA.
With such an extended run-up in real estate prices while rates were low for years, the market in Ontario saw a few blips but no real correction, she points out. A move to restore balance is healthy, in her opinion.
“I think we’re going through a cycle right now which is very much needed.”
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