An exciting year ahead on the mortgage front

Jean-Guy Turcotte

The New Year usually breathes new hope into the fresh minds of those ready to tackle the upcoming challenges.

I am super excited about what’s to come in 2011 as the economy should become more stable and normalized than that of the past couple of years. With the year starting out again with extremely low interest rates historically speaking, just like 2010, I am optimistic that the first quarter will match last year’s, it’s what happens afterwards that’s more difficult to understand.

The low interest rate environment that we are currently in almost exactly matches the beginning of 2010, and it was busy.

First time homebuyers came out in droves with their Christmas cash and parental help and started getting their pre-approvals, but didn’t wait long to buy.

I have a feeling that the first quarter is going to mimic last year’s.

Rates are low, governments are on the sidelines waiting how to respond with interest rates and since the oilfield is firing on all cylinders we’ll surely have a similar effect – until rates begin their inevitable hike up, which I truly hope is more gradual than last year’s market deadening 1% increase in a four-week period.

The government is likely not going to increase interest rates until April to June of this year and they will likely continue to increase until the end of the year.

This is not bad news, this means that the Canadian economy is growing and we no longer require emergency-like interest rates to sustain economic growth.

RBC’s Senior Economist Robert Hogue thinks that the government prime interest rate will end the year up at 2.25%, meaning an increase from today’s 1.00%.

To you this means that your variable interest rate mortgage and line of credit payments will increase from the middle of this year to the end…a good time to lock in that line of credit at today’s interest rates?

There are again murmurs (not trembling rumors yet) that CMHC is going to tighten its belt again, but CIBC’s Benjamin Tal stipulates that they’ll likely leave the mortgage industry alone and revisit non-mortgage debt as consumer debt seems to be the larger issue on the table.

Last year’s changes brought a little confusion to the mortgage market and placed a stumbling block for a couple of months.

If there are some changes, look for some quick moves by first time buyers clamoring to get in before the changes affect them.

Economists don’t necessarily look at home prices the way we look at them. They tend to look at affordability measures as home valuation is more subjective.

RBC’s Robert Hogue suggests that as Canadians can afford more, pricing will again follow suit and there’s been some movement up and down in 2010, but there’ll be more pressure upwards in 2011 as more jobs are being created and affordability increases.

The feeling I have, and I know that the economy doesn’t run on feelings, but it feels just like the start of last year and the only difference that I look for is a stronger second and third quarter compared to last year.

Jean-Guy Turcotte is an Accredited Mortgage Professional with his partners at Dominion Lending Centres-Regional Mortgage Group and can be reached for appointments at 403-343-1125, texted to 403-391-2552 or emailed to jturcotte@regionalmortgage.ca.

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