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Top Mortgage Brokers in Vancouver, Dreyer Group Mortgage Brokers, Wins Consumer Choice Award (CCA) for Top-Ranked Mortgages Vancouver

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Vancouver Mortgage BrokerTop Mortgage Brokers in Vancouver, Dreyer Group Mortgage Brokers, Wins Consumer Choice Award (CCA) for Top-Ranked Mortgages Vancouver 247PRESSRELEASE Dreyer Group Mortgage Brokers, one of the top mortgage broker teams in Vancouver and Canada, is proud to win CCA for business excellence in the category of Mortgages in Vancouver 2016. VANCOUVER, BC, December 16, 2015 /24-7PressRelease/ —

“Dreyer Group Mortgages is truly honored to receive this notable award for business excellence in delivering mortgages in Vancouver by the consumers we serve,” says Meryll Dreyer, COO of Dreyer Group Mortgages Inc. “Given the rigorous process that the top-service providers are determined, this type of award is a true measurement of our dedication to customer service and excellence.” Since 1987, receiving the CCA award has been one of the most prestigious and recognized awards in over 14 cities across Canada. Dreyer Group Mortgages, an independent member of VERICO Financial was selected in a thorough four-step process. Starting with “category selection” whereby consumer and businesses along with data is gleaned to determine top categories using such databases as Dunn and Bradstreet and Statistics Canada. Then, research is gathered by way of thousands of consumer and business market surveys run by Gallop, Leger and Survey Sampling International (SSI). The nomination list is refined by scanning online information, history and consumer reviews to ensure worthiness of award. Lastly, the companies are then finalized by ranking each nominated business into top ranked companies in each of the categories and markets. “Delivering exceptional service and sound advice is our passion,” expands Dreyer. “All of us at Dreyer Group feel truly honored to be recognized for our commitment to clients and partners we serve. We too wish to congratulate all of the other Consumers Choice Award winners.” About VERICO Dreyer Group Mortgages Inc. As a senior mortgage broker team with vast experience in the financial services industry, Dreyer Group Mortgages helps clients make the right decision with their mortgage by providing a wide-range of mortgage options based on sound advice and expertise. Being an independent mortgage brokerage, Dreyer Group is not restricted to one financial institutions products and accesses lenders across Canada from coast-to-coast and shop the market to provide the best in mortgage solutions – helping clients save money and pay off their mortgage sooner. – Member #1 Mortgage Broker Network Canada – Winner Five Star Mortgage Professional Customer Service Award Canada – Winner Top Customer Service Canadian Mortgage Professionals Award – Finalist Best Community Service Canada For more information about VERICO Dreyer Group Mortgages please visit: www.dreyergroup.ca About Consumers Choice Award (CCA) Consumer Choice Awards (CCA) purpose is to recognize and promote small to medium size companies who are dedicated to business excellence. Each company is chosen and recognized as a top-ranking business in a given industry. Through rigorous market research, surveys, consumer and business input, CCA works diligently to celebrate the hard work and dedication of deserving award winners. For more information about CCA visit: http://www.ccaward.com/ Posted: December 16th, 2015 under 24/7 PRESS RELEASE. « Previous post Next post »

Dreyer Group Wins Consumer Choice Award!

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The average house in Fort McMurray has lost $117,000 or 20% of its in value in one year

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A Welcome to Fort McMurray sign stands on the side of Highway 63 on the south end of Fort McMurray, Alta. on June 19, 2013.

A Welcome to Fort McMurray sign stands on the side of Highway 63 on the south end of Fort McMurray, Alta. on June 19, 2013.

The slumping oilpatch in Alberta continues to take its toll on the Fort McMurray housing market, as the average MLS sale price of a home in that northern community plunged by more than $117,000 in October.

Data obtained from the Canadian Real Estate Association indicates that the average sale price for the month of $468,199 was down 20 per cent from $585,438 in October 2014.

Sales also plunged by 41 per cent to 85 from 144 a year ago.

Year-to-date, MLS sales in Fort McMurray are down by 44.8 per cent.

The oilpatch downturn is being felt in real estate markets across the province.

In October, Lloydminster saw MLS sales dip by 54.3 per cent, falling to 43 transactions from 94 last year while the Alberta West area experienced a decline of 52.7 per cent, dropping to 70 from 148 a year ago.

Year-to-date MLS sales in Alberta are down 21.1 per cent from last year. Besides Fort McMurray, the CREA statistics show the hardest hit areas in the province are Lloydminster (down 34.1 per cent); South Central Alberta (down 31.6 per cent) and Calgary, (down 28.9 per cent).

Calgary’s resale housing market led the country in October — in a negative way.

MLS sales in the Calgary region were 1,810 for the month, down 36.4 per cent from a year ago. The rate of decline was the highest among Canada’s major housing markets, according to a report by the Canadian Real Estate Association.

In Alberta, sales fell 28.9 per cent to 4,327 transactions.

Across the country, however, MLS sales were up 0.1 per cent to 41,653. CREA said national activity stood near the peak recorded earlier this year and reached the second highest monthly level in almost six years.

Doug Porter, chief economist with BMO Capital Markets, said there are many — mostly oil-driven — cities that have softened markedly.

“The renewed sag in oil in recent months looks to have triggered a renewed weakening in housing markets across much of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Six of the 25 major markets reported double-digit declines in sales last month, and four of those were in these two provinces,” he said.

Besides Calgary’s year-over-year decline, sales from a year ago also fell in Edmonton (16.3 per cent), Saskatoon (21.4 per cent) and Regina (12.3 per cent).

Diana Petramala, economist with TD Economics, said overall Canadian home sales continued to be boosted by markets in Ontario and British Columbia.

“Markets in oil-producing provinces continue to remain incredibly weak,” she said.

Calgary saw its average MLS sale price fall by 4.4 per cent year-over-year to $444,535 in October while Alberta experienced a 3.9 per cent decline to $384,381.

However, the average sale price in Canada rose by 8.3 per cent from a year ago to $454,976.

According to CREA’s MLS Home Price Index benchmark price — which is indicative of typical properties sold in a market — Calgary experienced a 1.14 per cent annual drop to $448,400 while the national aggregate of 12 major markets was up 6.7 per cent to $505,900.

According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, month-to-date from Nov. 1-15, MLS sales in the city of Calgary are down 28.16 per cent from the same period a year ago. The median price has dropped by 3.44 per cent and the average sale price is down 2.16 per cent.

mtoneguzzi@calgaryherald.com

Even Fort McMurray’s real estate agents are leaving the oilsands town in drove

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fort-mcmurrayIt’s not just housing sales and prices that are falling fast in Fort McMurray, the ranks of realtors in the northern Alberta city seem to be plummeting too.

The defections come as realtor levels across the country have grown to new records, speaking to a growing trend of agents migrating to greener pastures and increasing competition in some of the country’s hottest markets. To compete for business in up-and-coming districts, some long-time franchises are setting up new branches, something one local agent jokingly referred to as “branchises.”

Phil Soper, chief executive of Royal LePage Real Estate Services, said some agents at his company have left Fort McMurray because market conditions are so poor in the town known for its proximity to Alberta’s oilsands. The local board said October sales were down 41 per cent from a year ago, while the average sale price of a home plunged 20 per cent during the period.

“Our offices in Edmonton are experiencing a transfer of agents from Fort McMurray and you’d expect that, because the region is experiencing the most severe change in economic fortune in Canada in years,” said Soper.

This shift in Alberta comes as the ranks of agents nationally have swelled to an all-time high, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. The Ottawa based group said they were 113,499 realtors at the end of the third quarter of 2015, up from about 64,000 15 years ago.

Ian Burns, chief executive of the Alberta Real Estate Association said agents are abandoning Fort McMurray, but his group still has about 10,000 members and its numbers are growing.

“When the economy (in Alberta) is bad, when oil goes down, we see an increase in people hanging their own shingle and deciding to become a realtor,” Burns said.

LePage’s Soper said there’s always a group of new agents trying to barge their way into the market and the more lucrative cities and neighbourhoods get the most attention because of the potential for larger commissions. Premium brokerages, like his company’s Johnston and Daniels Division, are always in demand.

The region is experiencing the most severe change in economic fortune in Canada in years

“You look at the Toronto Real Estate Board and there are thousands of agents who do zero transactions, they are the young and the transient population,” Soper said. “There is a tendency for that group to chase business all over the Greater Toronto Area.”

Jeffrey Wagman, the broker/owner of independent firm Forest Hill Real Estate Inc., has about 75o agents and 16 offices throughout Ontario. He doesn’t think of his offices as “branchises,” but each office has its own manager who ultimately falls under his domain as the broker of record.

FP1125_Realtors_C_JR

“We allow them to create the own culture within their office,” said Wagman, adding he does see some brokerages that have agents open up what might be construed as a branch. “I think it gives the public the impression of more exposure.”

He says the problem is the real estate sector is an industry that can take decades to crack, and a new agent faces massive obstacles.

“I still see the same agents in the higher-end neighbourhoods. You just don’t see people breaking in. I understand the desire to get into those areas,” Wagman said. “They think, ‘I’m going to target the affluent areas because there is more money’ but you have to pay your dues and work your way in.”

Wagman adds that it’s unlikely someone would abandon their base in a slower selling part of the city and move lock, stock and barrel to a more lucrative section because it just takes so long to build a client base.

“You don’t give up your meat and potatoes. These are just new people trying to break in,” he said.

Michael Kalles, president of Harvey Kalles Real Estate Ltd., which dominates in some of Toronto’s priciest neighbourhoods, said there has never been so much competition to sell homes.

“The difference today is just the number of agents,” he said, pointing to the 42,000-plus current members of the Toronto Real Estate Board. TREB has added 5,000 agents in the last two years.

He said technology and information has made it easier to move across different areas and set up shop.

“Agents are more capable to work in many more areas than in the past,” said Kalles, whose own firm in the last two years has been setting up branches in more lucrative parts of the city. “It’s extremely competitive out there. Brands have become even more important. Top agents always work hard but the amount of competition is incredible.”

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Young couple have big plans, modest savings: Where do they star

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face-lift20rb1Not long into their first real jobs, Adam and Liz want to do everything at once: Buy a house, get married, travel, pay off his student loan, have children and save for retirement.

Where to start? He is 28, she is 24. Together they bring in $139,000 a year before tax.

Both have work pensions, his a defined-benefit government plan, hers a private-sector defined-contribution plan. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Weighed against their goals and aspirations, their savings look modest – $49,500 between them. The house they want to buy in the next two or three years will cost in the range of $500,000. The wedding will cost another $15,000.

Fortunately, they have kept a tight rein on their spending so they have a surplus each month. Should they use it to pay off their student loan, save for the down payment on their first home or save for retirement? they ask in an e-mail.

They also wonder how to invest their savings in the meantime – in a tax-free savings account, registered retirement savings plan, guaranteed investment certificate or bank savings account.

“Should we put all of our savings toward the house or put some to retirement?” Adam asks.

We asked Ross McShane, director of financial planning at McLarty & Co. Wealth Management Corp. in Ottawa, to look at the couple’s situation.

What the expert says

Adam and Liz are on solid footing, Mr. McShane says. They have good incomes and have been diligent in controlling expenses in favour of paying down their student loans and accumulating some savings.

They have a surplus of about $25,000 a year, which will accumulate to $75,000 over the next three years. That, plus their existing savings, would give them close to $125,000, enough to cover a $100,000 down payment and a $15,000 wedding.

Because Liz and Adam will need the money before long, the planner suggests they leave existing TFSA monies in a daily-interest savings account.

In the meantime, they should take some of that cash they have in the bank to pay down the student loan. “The loan is costing 5.2 per cent, and even though they receive a tax credit, the after-tax cost well exceeds the return they could achieve (at least on a guaranteed basis) if the funds were invested,” Mr. McShane says.

With a lump-sum payment of $15,000 to $20,000 and regular monthly payments of $700, the loan would be paid off in less than three years.

Liz and Adam could put less than $100,000 or 20 per cent down on their house, but they would have to pay mortgage insurance. With 5 per cent down, for example, they would pay 3.6 per cent of the purchase price for insurance, an amount that would be added to the principal, the planner notes. “Keep in mind there will be closing costs and maybe some additional costs for blinds and appliances and so on,” Mr. McShane says. “Given that many expect housing prices to retrench somewhat, I am inclined to play it conservatively by waiting until they have 20 per cent saved up,” he adds.

The planner does not suggest the couple add to their RRSPs at this stage unless Adam’s income (now $76,000 a year) surpasses $82,000, in which case a contribution would be prudent in order to put him back below that $82,000 mark (bottom of the 35-per-cent marginal tax bracket), he says. Otherwise, they’d be better off carrying forward their RRSP contribution room to when their incomes are significantly higher and they enjoy a larger tax savings per dollar contributed.

“Existing RRSP funds can be withdrawn tax-free under the federal Home Buyers Plan for a down payment if required.”

As for retirement saving, “one step at a time here,” Mr. McShane says. “They should focus on short term goals first, and besides, they are already contributing to pension plans …”

They might consider buying a less expensive house. “They will have mortgage payments, repairs and maintenance, property taxes and utilities, so a house can eat up a chunk of their cash flow.” A $500,000 home with a $400,000 mortgage amortized over 25 years at 3 per cent a year would cost $1,895 a month, or $22,740 a year. Taxes, maintenance and utilities could add another $800 to $1,000 a month “and before you know it, your cost to carry the house is over $32,000 a year,” the planner says.

As it is, they are paying $17,220 a year in rent, so while they would be building equity if they bought, their cash outflow would rise by $15,000 and cut into their surplus.

“Perhaps a less expensive home to start should be considered to give them some extra breathing room – especially important should they start to raise a family,” Mr. McShane says. A $400,000 house with a 20-per-cent down payment of $80,000 would lower the mortgage to $320,000, “which translates into a monthly payment of $1,517 and likely has lower property taxes.” To be safe, the couple should also budget for rising interest rates in future, he adds.

Once they buy the house, they will have to decide whether to pay down their mortgage first or contribute some of their surplus to the RRSPs and TFSAs, the planner says.

“If and when they decide to have children, they will come at a cost (day care, activities, education). All of this needs to be factored into the big picture and their long-term plan.”

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Client situation

The people: Adam, 28, and Liz, 24.

The problem: How to set priorities for the use of their earnings given their competing goals.

The plan: Pay off the student loan, save up a 20 per cent down payment for a house and don’t be too concerned about saving for retirement yet.

The payoff: A clear financial road map for the next few years, to be revisited in future.

Monthly net income: $8,868

Assets: His TFSA $10,400; her TFSA $6,500; his cash in bank $6,400; her cash $16,200; RRSPs $10,000; her DC pension plan $288 (she just started contributing to it). Commuted value of his DB pension plan $35,743. Total: $85,531

Monthly disbursements: Rent $1,435; home insurance $40; food $770; clothing $150; group benefits $76; health care $82; professional $62; TV, cellphones, Internet $210; miscellaneous personal $186; entertainment, dining out $760; hobbies, activities $350; gifts, donations $50; travel $556; miscellaneous discretionary $190; transportation $600; loan $700; pension contributions $548. Total $6,765 Surplus available for savings $2,103

Liabilities: His student loan $43,000

Want a free financial facelift? E-mail finfacelift@gmail.com. Some details may be changed to protect the privacy of the persons profiled.

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U.S. shale towns grapple with new real estate crisis brought on by oil plunge: ‘We are overbuilt’

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0929willistonChain saws and staple guns echo across a US$40-million residential complex under construction in Williston, North Dakota, a few miles from almost-empty camps once filled with oil workers.

Oilsands at a crossroads: How the next chapter of Alberta’s oil future — and Canada’s workhorse — is a big unknown

Handout/Conoco Philips They were a diverse group, about two-dozen of them, a mix of retired oil and gas executives, climate change advocates, former politicians and academics. Some had been in Alberta forever. Others less than a generation. And they had gathered in a living room in northwest Calgary in mid-September because they all felt it: The growing disquiet over the future of the province’s energy industry, and particularly its workhorse, the oilsands.

Continue reading. After struggling to house thousands of migrant roughnecks during the boom, the state faces a new real-estate crisis: The frenzied drilling that made it No. 1 in personal-income growth and job creation for five consecutive years hasn’t lasted long enough to support the oil-fuelled building explosion.

Civic leaders and developers say many new units were already in the pipeline, and they anticipate another influx of workers when oil prices rise again. But for now, hundreds of dwellings approved during the heady days are rising, skeletons of wood and cement surrounded by rolling grasslands, with too few residents who can afford them.

“We are overbuilt,” said Dan Kalil, a commissioner in Williams County in the heart of the Bakken, a 360-million-year-old shale bed, during a break from cutting flax on his farm. “I am concerned about having hundreds of $200-a-month apartments in the future.”

The surge began in 2006, when rising oil prices made widespread hydraulic fracturing economically feasible. The process forces water, sand and chemicals down a well to crack rock and release the crude. Predictions were that fracking would sustain production and a robust tax base for decades.

Labourers descended on the state, many landing in temporary settlements of recreational vehicles, shacks and even chicken coops. Energy companies put up some workers in so-called man camps. In 2011, Williams County commissioners approved 12,000 beds, says Michael Sizemore, the county building official.

Related Low interest rates trump cheap oil in Canadian housing market as prices forecasted to keep rising Canada’s ever growing housing bubble: As Alberta’s market tumbles, the rest of the country wonders who’s next Interim Solution

The camps were supposed to be an interim solution until subdivision and apartment complexes could be built. Civic leaders across the Bakken charged into overdrive, processing hundreds of permits and borrowing tens of millions of dollars to pay for new water and sewer systems. Williston has issued US$226 million of debt since January 2011; about US$144 million is outstanding. Watford City issued US$2.34 million of debt; about US$2.1 million is outstanding.

Construction companies and investors went along for the ride.

I am concerned about having hundreds of $200-a-month apartments in the future “We didn’t build temporary housing on purpose because we viewed North Dakota as a long-term play,” said Israel Weinberger, a principal at Coltown Properties, which invests in multi-family real-estate developments. “We think the local production of oil is here to stay. Yes, prices have dropped, but it’s a commodity and commodities fluctuate. There is always a risk.”

The New York City-based company plans to complete 35 units in Watford City this winter and break ground on another residential project in March, he says.

The Bakken has boomed before. The first strike came in 1953, when thousands of transitory workers poured in. But a global crude-oil glut ended production abruptly in 1984 and the workers fled, leaving many municipalities deeply in debt.

Another Glut

Fracking’s success has created another glut, and crude prices have fallen more than 50 per cent in the past year. Now North Dakota’s white-hot economy is slowing. More than 4,000 workers lost their jobs in the first quarter, according to the state’s Labor Market Information Center. Taxable sales in counties at the centre of the nation’s second-largest oil region dropped as much as 10 per cent in the first quarter from a year earlier, data from the Office of the State Tax Commissioner show.

As the migrant workers leave, their castoffs pile up in scrap yards such as TJ’s Autobody & Salvage outside Alexander, about 25 miles (40 kilometres) south of Williston. More than 400 discarded vehicles crowd its lot, including souped-up pickup trucks and an RV with rotting potatoes and a dead mouse in the sink.

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg Daniel Acker/BloombergA crude oil drill rig stands on the horizon beyond a row of new single wide mobile homes in Williston, North Dakota. “I wake up and RVs are in my driveway,” said owner Tom Novak. “It’s insane; there are empty campers everywhere.”

Cities and counties are rushing to change permitting policies and toughen zoning laws to outlaw or restrict temporary colonies. Commissioners in Williston — the nation’s fastest- growing micropolitan area between July 2010 and July 2013 — voted Sept. 22 to consider requiring facilities that operate a total of 3,517 temporary beds to close by July. The annual per-bed fees Williams County requires camp operators to pay will double to $800 in May.

Drawing Board

The goal is to force the remaining oil workers into residences that were on the drawing board when a barrel of oil was selling for twice as much as it is today.

“A lot of our investors would not have gone into this had they not had the understanding that, as permanent units went in, man camps would go away.” said Terry Metzler, North Dakota operations manager for Granite Peak Development LLC, based in Casper, Wyoming. Its many projects in Williston include a new Menards home-improvement store with more than 200,000 square feet and two US$40-million apartment complexes nearby.

Housing experts say this goal may be illusory because oil roughnecks typically return to their home state when a boom is over.

“People who think they can convince these workers to live in apartments or suburban households are not understanding the nature of this economy,” said Bill Caraher, an associate professor at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks who has studied housing in the oilpatch.

Andrew Burton/Getty Images Andrew Burton/Getty ImagesOil roughnecks typically return to their home state when a boom is over. With the region’s drilling-rig count at a six-year low of 74 and roughnecks coping with cuts in overtime and per-diem pay, the vacancy rates in Williams County man camps are as high as 70 per cent. Meanwhile the average occupancy rate of new units in Williston was 65 per cent in August, even as 1,347 apartments are under construction or have been approved there.

Officials in Watford City about 45 miles away have issued 1,824 permits for apartments, duplexes and homes in the past 18 months after only three houses were built between 1980 and 2000. They are in limbo, worried about filling the units.

“This lag time is driving me nuts,” said Brent Sanford, Watford City’s mayor, during a recent tour of construction sites with names such as Emerald Ridge Estates and Pheasant Ridge. “I’m now hearing words like, ‘This isn’t sustainable.”’

That’s true for Daniel Krohn, who pays US$650 a month for a space in the Rakken Arrow RV Park. A plywood lean-to that blocks the north wind is cobbled onto his mobile home, the only one with a mailbox in the 86-space lot, which is half empty.

Krohn, who installed piping on gravel pads where oil and gas is processed, came to Watford City in 2012 from Wisconsin with his wife, Angela; they had a daughter after the move. Now he’s unemployed and considering moving back home to a house with a US$450 monthly mortgage.

“I can’t afford US$1,000 or more for a one-bedroom and still feed my family,” he said. “I’m ready to go.”

— With assistance from Brian Chappatta in New York.

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It’s time for many Canadians to abandon the 20% down-payment rule

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Video-+Tale+of+two+cities-+Vancouver+home+sales+surge,+Calgary+plungesThis one’s for the housing true believers out there.

You’re the buyers who keep pushing house prices higher in cities such as Vancouver, Toronto and Hamilton. Incomes are edging higher in these cities, prices are surging. If you’re primed to buy anyway, then listen up. Stop trying to save a 20-per-cent down payment and get into the market now.

A popular and sensible bit of financial advice is that you should ideally wait to buy a house until you have a down payment of at least 20 per cent and thus are excused from buying mortgage default insurance. But if it takes a few years to save that much, you may find that soaring prices more than offset the savings on mortgage insurance.

This insurance got a little more expensive in some cases this summer, so it’s time for a fresh look at the case for avoiding the cost of buying it.

Background for housing rookies: If you have a down payment of less than 20 per cent, you have to pay a hefty premium to insure your lender in case you default on your payments. The amount is usually added to your mortgage principal, which means it’s out of sight and out of mind. But it still costs you.

With a down payment of less than 10 per cent (5 per cent is the minimum), the cost of mortgage insurance rose in June to 3.6 per cent of the purchase price from 3.15 per cent. Larger down payments short of 20 per cent were unaffected and range from 2.4 per cent down to 1.8 per cent. You’ll pay provincial sales tax on those amounts in Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. More importantly, you’ll incur extra interest charges by adding these amounts to your mortgage balance.

Let’s use the average resale house price in Canada to illustrate how much mortgage insurance adds to your costs when buying a first home. The average price in August was $433,367 – a calculator from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., a supplier of mortgage insurance, shows that a 10-per-cent down payment would trigger a mortgage insurance premium of $9,361. With that amount added to the mortgage, monthly payments on a five-year fixed mortgage at 2.59 per cent would be $1,807 per month.

With a 20-per-cent down payment, monthly costs on this mortgage fall to $1,569. Total interest over the five-year term of the mortgage falls to $41,390 from $47,681, a difference of $6,291. But would it really be worth postponing your purchase by three years to put 20 per cent down? With the market rising at 5 per cent annually (less than recent increases in Vancouver, Toronto and Hamilton), the chart that goes with this column shows you’d actually end up paying more per month.

Mortgage rates also have to figure into your thinking on whether to buy now or wait and save more. If we assume 4 per cent average annual price increases over three years and a rise in mortgage rates of one percentage point, you’d have to pay substantially more than if you bought now and paid for mortgage insurance (see chart).

If you live in a city with a slow real estate market, it pays to wait and save more. If you waited three years to double your down payment to 20 per cent on the average-priced house and prices rose 2 per cent annually, you’d come out ahead by more than $140 per month.

A June study issued by the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals said the average house down payment for first-time buyers was $67,000. That represents a 21 per cent down payment on the average $318,000 spent by first-timers, and a 15.5-per-cent down payment on the overall average price of $433,367.

The CAAMP study found that 18 per cent of first-time buyers received gifts or loans from family. A thought for parents who want to help their kids get into the market: Try topping up their down payment to reach the 20 per cent threshold. Warning: Parents should avoid this type of financial help if they have to go into debt to provide it, or if it greases the way for their kids to buy a house they can’t properly afford to carry.

Down payments are one of the least strategized parts of home buying, and yet they can have a big impact on your total long-term cost of owning a house. The conventional wisdom about 20-per-cent down payments is right on the money, but not if you’re set on buying in a hot market. Either jump in now or resolve to wait and save indefinitely for sanity to return.

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Stephen Harper wants to add another 700,000 homeowners in Canada. Is that what we really need?

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0923harperhousePrime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives say they have primed the housing pump enough that Canada is now set for all-time home ownership record.

Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper vows limit on foreign home buyers if needed

Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised new measures to track foreign home ownership in Canada and even hinted at restrictions on buying, during a press conference in Canada’s most expensive housing market

Read more The party boldly predicted the country will add another 700,000 homeowners and increase the percentage of Canadian households that own their property from 70 per cent to 72.5 per cent.

But the question some critics are quick to ask is whether we actually want so many people owning their homes, with some pointing to the housing crash in the United States that happened almost a decade ago as home ownership rates there soared to all-time highs just below 70 per cent before dropping to about 63 per cent earlier this year.

“The home ownership rate has been rising and it could go higher,” said David Madani, an economist with Capital Economics. “The problem is the only real two markets that are holding up are Vancouver and Toronto. Do you want home ownership to go up in those two markets? These are the markets that are the most overvalued.”

Affordability concerns have dogged those markets and the Tories once again promised Tuesday to investigate whether foreign ownership has been fuelling the housing markets in Toronto and Vancouver where the average detached homes sell for about $1 million and $1.4 million respectively.

Related If Stephen Harper has his way, 72.5 per cent of Canadians will be homeowners by 2020 ‘Playing with fire’: How the Tories’ renovation tax credit promise may affect Canada’s hot housing markets Harper promises to introduce permanent home renovation tax credit if he is re-elected But the Conservatives say the policies they are proposing in the election are actually helping with affordability. Changes being proposed are a permanent renovation tax credit and increasing the amount Canadians can withdraw without penalty from their registered retirement savings plans from $25,000 to $35,000. Annual contributions limits to tax-free savings accounts were already bumped from $5,500 to $10,000 and some of that money is expected to go into housing.

Harper calls the Tory measures a “plan for affordable, responsible home ownership in Canada” but the latest announcement does not offer any specific new program, just a new target.

Not surprisingly, organized real estate loves everything the Conservatives have done to boost housing and believes the government can reach the goals it has set.

“We need to have strong policies in place to meet that target,” said Kevin Lee, chief executive of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, about the goal of reaching a 72.5 per cent home ownership rate.

Lee says comparisons to the U.S. market are not valid, even as our home ownership rates soar past its highs. ‘The American situation and the way mortgages were handled and the stringency were entirely different than (Canada today.).”

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan DenetteConservative Leader Stephen Harper, centre, and candidate Julian Fantino, right, look over a new home construction site while making a campaign stop in Kleinburg Ont., on Tuesday, September 29, 2015. From the CHBA point of the view, the concern should be on jobs. The Ottawa-based group estimates real estate directly and indirectly supports 90,000 jobs and contributes $125 billion annually to economic activity.

Gregory Klump, chief economist with the Canadian Real Estate Association which represents about 100 boards across the country, says the Tory targets are achievable. He adds low interest rates and income growth are probably just as big a factor as any new policy measures being proposed.

In terms of whether the proposed Tory changes could be inflationary, Klump said there really isn’t any “evidence to show current policies” have impacted Toronto and Vancouver. “There is just a shortage of single family homes in those markets,” he said.

The goal the Conservatives hope to attain almost seems to fly in the face of some of the measures Ottawa has instituted over the last four years to slow the market, the most prominent being a reduction in maximum amortization lengths from 40 to 25 years.

“There is no question that policies until now have worked to reduce the home ownership rate,” said Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist with Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. “The home ownership probably would have been higher without (regulatory changes).”

Tal says there is nothing wrong with seeking a higher home ownership rate but it can’t come with increased risk to the market. “We’ve been through this game in the U.S.,” he says.

gmarr@nationalpost.com

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Banker buys ex-boss’s house only to raze it and build huge mansion in act of ‘revenge’

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imageWASHINGTON — An American hedge fund billionaire bought the home of a former boss who passed him over for promotion — then tore it down and built a mansion twice as big on the exact spot.

David Tepper paid the ex-wife of Jon Corzine, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, US$43.5 million for the summer home in Sagaponack, Long Island, in 2010 and flattened it.

Ordering the building of a new property, he seemed intent on creating something bigger and better. Five years later, the full extent of the 58-year-old hedge fund manager’s “revenge” seems complete. The new 11,268 sq ft mansion is almost exactly twice the size of his one-time boss’s property. The estate includes a giant outdoor swimming pool and pool house, three-car garage and tennis court.

The completion of the beachfront house, in an area of the Hamptons that has long been a playground for the wealthy, may bring closure to a feud that began more than two decades ago.

Related Park the yacht — this ‘private floating habitat’ just upped the ante on billionaire toys Whoever buys this $12.25-million ‘Manor House’ in Calgary won’t be worried about the oil crash After reportedly playing a critical role in protecting Goldman Sachs from a financial crash in the late Eighties, Tepper assumed that he would be made a partner. When he was not chosen, he blamed Corzine, the head of his division, with whom he was said to have had a fractious relationship.

Tepper left to start hedge fund Appaloosa in 1993 and became a billionaire in 10 years. He is one of the highest-paid fund managers in the U.S., earning $3.5 billion in 2013, according to Forbes magazine.

But Tepper, who is described by colleagues as having a loud, sometimes brash demeanour, appeared not to have forgotten Corzine’s alleged slight. After buying the home from his 68-year-old former boss’s ex-wife in 2010, he told New York Magazine: “You could say there was a little justice in the world.”

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imageOne major bank is working on a strategy that will see mobile advisors provide more than just mortgage advice – should brokers be worried that their competitive advantage is disappearing? “We’ve been focusing on processes and simplifying,” David Williamson, CIBC senior executive vice president, said during the bank’s recent quarterly profit call. Also CIBC is investing in “mobile mortgage advisers, which were changing to mobile advisers generally, so (they will) not just focus on mortgages.” CIBC’s shift to having its mortgage specialists become more generalist could see commissions, and so earnings, broadened and supported by other revenue streams. Ostensibly that could create greater income security for those brokers prepared to head back to the bank. But industry players may view this initiative as a play to earn a larger share of clients’ wallet, rather than an increased focus on holistic financial advice. “I think it’s the bank acknowledging (the mortgage specialists) aren’t doing a good enough job handing the client off to the branch,” Steve D’Souza, a broker with Client First Mortgage Solutions, told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “It’s a way for the bank to push more lines of business and sell more products.” And while the model may up the utility of mortgage specialists, not all brokers see it as an incentive to make the move to the banks anytime soon. “Newer brokers may be enticed to make the move but I don’t see high producing brokers deciding to go to the banks,” D’Souza said.

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