Spring brings surging interest in home ownership

Pride of ownership, thoughts of barbequing on the back deck with friends and maybe even doing a bit of yard work is an alluring dream that many aspire to attain, and the warm weather brings out buyers in droves this year.

The past few years have brought with it some uncertainty in the market, most notably in the spring and only because our government made some major changes to the mortgage rules. Needless to say the volumes in the spring were sporadic.

This year is different than the past few years and seemingly more normal as the house buying consumer is out there in full force snapping up homes and taking advantage of deals on houses and the mortgage market. Since there weren’t any rule changes this year, it’s business as usual, and we are fortunate to be in Alberta.

Much of Canada has some uncertainty and talk of a bubble, but they leave most of western Canada alone – Vancouver/Victoria excluded.

Spring is a popular time to buy mostly because we’ve been cooped up for months and many have had the time to save up for the down payment as the winter drilling season pads the pockets of many Albertans.

As far as mortgage interest rates go, lenders know that much of our market changes hands between March and October and are all fighting to earn your business. Lenders buying market share with super-low, no frills mortgages have provided a reprieve from rate increases for the time being. Even though there have been a few increases, they aren’t anything really to note.

This year rates have been between 2.59% for a one-year rate and as high as 3.89% for a 10-year rate (feels wrong to describe it as such because these figures are so low). This same time last year clients were clamoring to get a five-year rate at 3.49%, and today they are between 2.84-3.19% for the ever popular five-year fixed.

In speaking to Cory Kaun of Larkaun Homes, he says, “It’s been a strong season so far, but we are all a little cautious as prices are starting to rise, and the first sign of that is with new lot prices, they are going to be $20,000 higher than anything we’ve bought in the past few years, so the $380,000 house is now going to be $400,000 +/-when those start getting built. To add to that we will likely see labour costs increase as well, which will then put further pressure upwards.” Larkaun Homes has been building in Red Deer for 10 years and builds homes from $350,000 to $1 million plus.

The first signs of a turning economy start at the bottom of the housing prices, lower priced mobile homes, condos and townhomes start moving as those sellers upgrade those homes, and there’s been a lot of movement in that price range this year, and prices in the $150-$200,000 range are almost non-existent as pricing pressure has increased there as well.

The past few years have been wrought with economists saying that rates are going to rise at some point, and the government is even saying so with regards to raising their rates and sending warnings to Canadians to have their financial house in order. No one has the crystal ball that says when that is going to exactly happen, but for now, enjoy these interest rates, lock in as low as you can for as long as you can.

There’s a lot of housing activity here in Central Alberta and prices on inventory is creeping up. Is it a good time to buy? Truly depends on your comfort level. If you have adequate down payment and closing costs and are secure in your job, then there’s not many reasons to not get in the market…so if you are ready, go ahead and fire your landlord, there’s nothing like moving into a new house when the sun is shining as opposed to a snow storm in December!

Jean-Guy Turcotte is an Accredited Mortgage Professional with Dominion Lending Centres-Regional Mortgage Group.

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