Canadians are still in a mood to mortgage. Nearly 4 in 10 Canadians still think that now is a good time to buy a house, even though the proportion who expect home prices to fall further has soared and the proportion expecting higher housing prices has plunged, according to survey results published Tuesday.
“Residential mortgage consumers remain remarkably positive as they weather the financial storm,” the CAAMP said in releasing the results of a mid-October survey.
Attitudes toward local conditions have shifted only slightly, with 38 percent of Canadians believing now is a good time to buy a house, and still outweighing the 32 percent who believe it is a bad time, it said in releasing the findings of the online survey of 2,000 Canadians.
Meanwhile, only 0.28 percent of mortgages are in arrears, a proportion that is not only low but also steady, it said. And an overwhelming 84 percent of homeowners are satisfied with their mortgages. Still, the proportion expecting home prices to fall has more than doubled from last fall to 35 percent, while the proportion expecting prices to go up has dropped by half to 20 percent.
“Westerners, who have endured particularly hot housing markets, are the most negative,” it said, noting that’s especially the case in British Columbia, where 48 percent expect prices to fall.
Borrowers expect changes in their local housing markets, yet remain confident in a stable Canadian mortgage system, said Jim Murphy, association president, noting that it feels mortgage credit growth will slow, but remain relatively strong. The survey was conducted during a month in which home sales plunged 14 percent to a six-year low and during which prices tumbled 10 percent from a year earlier.
Despite that sharp fall in home sales and prices, the mortgage association said that the Canadian housing market has avoided the price and sales meltdown in the U.S. housing market and that the Canadian mortgage market is supported by low and steady interest rates, better underwriting processes, different products and normal resale activity levels.
“Canada is a financially conservative country where consumers are able to meet the terms of their mortgages, and buying decisions are based on affordability,” said association chief economist Will Dunning. “This contributes to a solid real estate market that will not experience the same drop off we see south of the border.”
The survey results were released as reports continued to suggest the U.S. housing market has not yet hit bottom with an already deeply depressed index of home-building activity hitting a record low in November, rather than stabilizing as had been expected.
Meanwhile, in Canada a lot of homeowners continued to tap the equity in their homes, with about one in five borrowers this year taking out an average $41,000 out, up 20 per cent from last year. Fifty-six per cent of those surveyed said they used the money for debt consolidation and repayment, and 30 per cent for home repairs and renovation.
New homebuyers, meanwhile, also took advantage of new alternative mortgage products, including some that are no longer available, with a 13per-cent increase to 50 per cent in the proportion of new mortgages last year that were for amortizations longer than the traditional 25 years.
Longer-term amortizations now account for 16 per cent of all outstanding mortgages and six per cent are 40year terms, for which the federal government, in a bid to avoid the excesses in the U.S. housing market, will no longer provide insurance.
While many of those surveyed were not aware of the new regulations, 60 per cent supported the changes once they were explained to them, the survey analysis noted.
There was no margin of error attached to the survey results.