Bank of Canada Interest Rate Announcement - January 21, 2014
The Bank of Canada announced this morning that it is maintaining its target for the overnight rate at 1 per cent. In its statement, the Bank once again highlighted that inflation remains stubbornly below the Bank's 2 per cent target due to significant excess supply in the Canadian economy, as well as heightened competition in the retail sector. The Bank now see inflation returning to target in about 2 years as the effects of retail competition dissipate and excess capacity is absorbed through faster economic growth. In its concluding paragraph, the Bank notes that although the fundamental drivers of inflation appear to be strengthening, inflation remains below target and downside risk to inflation have grown in importance. Most importantly, the Bank notes that the timing and direction of the next change in interest rates will depend on how new information influences the balance of risk between low inflation and elevated household imbalances.
There has been substantial speculation of late that if inflation remains near the bottom of the Bank of Canada’s 1-3 per cent control range over the next six months, then the next move by the Bank will be a rate cut rather than the rate-hike most economists have penciled into forecasts. Indeed, the Bank’s messaging and guidance has been much more dovish of late, essentially reversing the unequivocal tightening bias at the Bank under Mark Carney. The macroeconomic impact of the change in messaging is significant, prompting both a decline in long-term interest rates as well as a substantial decline in the dollar. A result that is both welcome to a slow-growing Canadian economy as well as very likely engineered by policymakers. While we are not in the rate-cut camp (though that outcome is far more likely that it was six months ago), particularly with economic growth in the global economy set to dramatically improve, we believe that an eventual rate tightening is still far out on the horizon.
Canadian Housing Starts - January 9, 2014
Canadian housing starts declined in December from 197,797 units at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) to 189,672 units SAAR. A decline of 4.2 per cent. The trend in Canadian new home construction also declined slightly to 195,760 units SAAR over the past six months, a rate that is slightly higher than demographic demand suggests is needed. For all of 2013, Canadian housing starts in urban centres were down 12 per cent compared to 2012.
New home construction in BC urban centres increased 14.5 per cent in December to 30,886 units SAAR. A ramp-up in new home construction to end the year pushed total starts for 2013 higher by 1 per cent compared with 2012 at 25,685 units. Single family units finished the year up 8 per cent while multiple unit starts declined 2 per cent.
Looking at census metropolitan areas (CMA) in BC, total starts in the Vancouver CMA jumped 47 per cent year-over-year in December to finish 2013 at 18,696 units, a decline of 1 per cent over last year. In the Victoria CMA, total starts were nearly quadruple that of December 2012 and finished the year down 1 per cent at 1,685 units. New home construction in the Kelowna CMA were up 59 per cent in December and posted 1,013 total starts in 2013, the first time since the 2008/09 recession that Kelowna new home construction has cleared the 1000 start threshold. Housing starts also posted large gains in the Abbotsford-Mission CMA in December. New home construction doubled in that area in 2013 at 749 total starts.
Your home may be the biggest investment you’ll ever make. That means you want to be smart with your mortgage. Although we can’t say for sure what mortgage rates will do – or how the housing market will shift – we have compiled our top tips for the year ahead; sensible strategies for today’s homebuyers and owners.
- Variables are back. Several lenders are offering strong “prime minus” rates that could save you thousands in interest. And the Bank of Canada is still holding their key “overnight rate” very steady and very low… making variable-rate mortgages a sensible option right now. Fixed versus variable has always been a challenging mortgage decision. Let us help you decide which financing option best meets your needs.
- Don’t sleepwalk through your mortgage renewal. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to save thousands on your mortgage. When your lender sends you a letter saying it’s time to renew… then it’s time to get an expert second opinion. We’re independent and we have access to over 50 lenders. If there’s a better deal, we’ll find it.
- Pay your phone bill on time! Paying your bills on time has always been the most important credit habit. Equifax recently started to include phone companies on credit bureau reports – so your lender can see if you have any delinquencies with your phone bills. Look like a good borrower.
- Keep other good credit habits. Don’t let your credit accounts exceed 30 per cent of your limit. Don’t cancel an old credit card without getting advice. And don’t sign up for store cards: they often have crazy interest rates, and the application triggers a credit inquiry (you don’t want a lot of those).
- Mortgage versus total debt. Do you have high-interest debt outside your mortgage that you won’t be able to pay off in the next few months? Then think about rolling that debt into a new low-rate mortgage. This one, smart strategy could save you thousands… and boost your monthly cash flow. We can analyze your situation to see if you qualify.
- What’s the prepayment penalty? Don’t let anyone tell you prepayment penalties are “all the same”. They’re not. If you ever need to get out of your mortgage early, the right mortgage could save you thousands. Not all lenders calculate penalties the same way, and the differences can be substantial. It helps to know which lenders have the most fair prepayment penalties. With access to dozens of lenders – we’ve got that information at our fingertips.
- If one of you wants to keep the marital home. If you are going through a separation or divorce and one of you wants to keep the marital home, we’ve got some great mortgage options, including a mortgage to 95 per cent. Your home can be the asset that gives you both a fresh start!
- A paydown will pay it forward. Take every opportunity to beat down your mortgage principal using any prepayment privileges! Use tax refunds, bonuses, whatever. Or switch to weekly or bi-weekly payments. Every dollar you pay down on principal means every future payment goes further.
- Thinking renovation? We see what you see. Your reno will add value to your home. That’s why we have a special “Refinance Plus Improvements” mortgage that lets you refinance up to 80 per cent of the new, post-reno value of your home. Cool deal.
- Visit your mortgage broker for a checkup. Your mortgage needs an annual checkup. Really. Life doesn’t stand still, which means your needs may have changed. Even a minor tweak can pay big dividends.