Home buying affordability fades for millennials with new mortgage rule (with VIDEO)

Federal move slashes purchasing power of first time buyers by up to 20 per cent: economist




Millennials trying to buy their first homes face a dramatic hit to the amount they can borrow as a result of the federal government’s move to tighten mortgage qualification rules later this month.

That’s the warning from B.C. Real Estate Association chief economist Cameron Muir, who says the federal finance minister’s announcement Monday flies in the face of government efforts to improve housing affordability at the low end of the market.

“It’s going to have a dramatic impact on affordability for millennials,” Muir said. “As much as 20 per cent of their purchasing power has been eliminated. Many of them will be squeezed completely out of the marketplace.”

READ ALSO: Feds target housing market speculators

Effective Oct. 17, buyers with less than a 20 per cent down payment – most first time buyers – will need enough income to qualify at a higher benchmark interest rate posted by the Bank of Canada, even though their actual payments are based on the lower rate retail banks offer them.

Right now the gap between the two rates is around two per cent, so the rule is equivalent to a sudden interest rate spike of that amount for many buyers.

Muir said a couple with combined annual income of $80,000 and a five per cent down payment can currently buy a home priced at about $500,000.

“That’s going to fall to about $400,000,” he said. “That’s a $100,000 reduction in their purchasing power. That’s a substantial hit to affordability.”

It’s the sharpest government-imposed cut to what new home buyers can afford in years, he said, predicting millennials will bear the brunt.

“Unlike previous generations, their purchasing power has now been reduced through government policy.”

Finance Minister Bill Morneau unveiled the change as one of a series of measures to reduce risk in overheated housing markets.

Muir argued the mortgage qualification rule could have been phased in gradually.

“The shock over a number of years wouldn’t be the same shock we’re now going to see in the markets.”

He said the change threatens to have broader impacts, potentially triggering a drop in home construction activity, associated jobs and economic growth.

Helmut Pastrick, chief economist for Central 1 Credit Union, said he expects some drop in sales to first time home buyers as a result.

First time buyers account for a larger proportion of sales in more affordable regions like the Fraser Valley and Okanagan – up to 35 per cent – compared to around 25 per cent near Vancouver.

Unlike the foreign buyer tax B.C. has imposed only in Metro Vancouver, Pastrick said the federal mortgage qualification change is “indiscriminate” and applies everywhere, even where overheated real estate has not been a problem.

“It will ripple out beyond the first-time home buyer market,” Pastrick said, adding existing owners seeking to sell or downsize are often dependent on a first-time buyer purchasing their home.

Pastrick is in the process of scaling down Central 1’s forecasts for real estate market and B.C. economic growth for 2017 as a result of the mortgage rule change.

He expects a five per cent decline in benchmark home prices over the next six to nine months, coupled with lower sales.

But Pastrick predicts the real estate market will stabilize over time, not collapse.

“Markets will adjust –this is not the beginning of the end of the cycle,” he said, citing the strong trends of growth for B.C.’s economy, jobs and population.

Just Posted

Work continues to deal with flooding

Increased efforts to mitigate flooding at Sportsmens Bowl and downstream

Reel Reviews: Parlour games or video games

We say, “Rampage is silly fun and Truth or Dare is just silly”

Look back to simpler summers

Rotary honourees reminisce about South Okanagan summers

Okanagan-Similkameen freshet looms large: district

Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen says property owners have window to prepare for flooding

Final week for ALR input

Public consultation process closes April 30

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Low fog creates stunning views near Sicamous

Motorists on the highway between Salmon Arm and Sicamous were treated to spectacular scenery.

Dix says B.C. remains focused on fighting youth overdoses in wake of teen’s death

Elliot Eurchuk’s parents say he died at his Oak Bay home after taking street drugs

‘When everybody leaves: Counselling key to help Humboldt move on after bus crash

Dealing with life after a tragedy can be the worst part following a loss

Half-naked shooter guns down four, runs away in Nashville Waffle House shooting

Nashville police say they are looking for Travis Reinking in connection with the shooting

Child’s body found in river downstream from where boy went missing during flood

Three-year-old Kaden Young was swept out of his mother’s arms in February

B.C. VIEWS: Eliminating efficiency for farm workers

Don’t worry, NDP says, the B.C. economy’s booming

Penticton students tackle dark themes in Oliver

Penticton Secondary School’s theatre program brings to the stage Oliver

Kamloops RCMP respond to report of dead body floating in Thompson River

Body has not been located, searches to continue as river conditions improve

Most Read