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Latest in Mortgage News: Despite Challenges, Majority of Canadians Plan to Buy a Home

Despite quickly rising home prices and the uncertainty unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic, a majority (80%) of Canadians still believe home ownership is a good investment.

That’s from RBC’s latest Home Buying Sentiment Poll, which also found more than half (56%) aspire to purchase a home.

High home prices, however, are taking a toll. Roughly six in 10 respondents (59%) say home prices in their area are unaffordable. The average national home-buying budget is approximately $445,237well shy of the average national home price of $607,280, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association’s December data.

As a result, nearly half (45%) of those polled said they’ll likely have to move out of their current city if they want to buy a larger home. Nearly four out of 10 plan to buy a home in the next two years, and of those, 38% are searching for a place in the suburbs or a commuter city, while 26% plan to look beyond the suburbs in a more rural community.

Manulife Bank Creates Dedicated Broker Sales Division

As part of an organizational realignment, Manulife Bank has announced the creation of a dedicated mortgage broker channel sales division. Mario Cloutier, who brings 20+ years of experience in the broker channel, will step into the newly created National Head of Broker Sales position.

“Mario is a seasoned veteran of the financial services industry,” Manulife said. “He’ll play an instrumental role in leading our dedicated Mortgage Broker channel sales team to help (brokers) maximize (their) mortgage sales and deliver a holistic suite of banking solutions to (their) clients.”

In the last several years, Manulife Bank has held approximately 2% of market share among mortgage lenders, placing it in roughly the #9 spot of top mortgage lenders in Canada.

As part of the organizational realignment, Tim Gillrie, with 18 years of secured lending and advisor business experience, will lead another newly created role as National Head of Advisor Sales.

“Through his leadership, we plan to do more (to) help financial advisors maximize their mortgage, specialized insurance lending, business banking and deposit opportunities,” the bank noted in a release.

Lysa Fitzgerald, a member of Manulife Bank’s Leadership Team, will become the new Vice President, Sales. With more than 25 years of private and business banking experience, Fitzgerald and her Sales Leadership Team drive retail and business sales growth through the bank’s advisor, broker and direct channels.

Toronto and Montreal See Net Population Losses

Since the the word “lockdown” became part of our everyday vocabulary last spring, home buying trends have shifted in favour of more spacious single-family homes in more affordable regions outside of the major metropolitan areas.

The first figures to be released from StatsCan on the subject show to what extent people are moving out of the urban cores. Between July 2019 and July 2020, Toronto saw a net loss of more than 50,000 people, while Montreal saw a net loss of about 25,000 people. The larger census metropolitan area (CMA) of both cities continued to rise, however, in large part due to immigration, the bulk of which took place prior to the pandemic.

In Toronto, the net loss was mainly driven by people moving to surrounding CMAs,” StatsCan noted, with surrounding municipalities showing strong growth. The municipalities of Milton (+4.0%) and Brampton (+3.4%) grew at the fastest pace among those within the Toronto CMA (+1.4%). Meanwhile, the municipalities of Mirabel (+3.6%) and New Westminster (+2.8%) were among the fastest growing in the CMAs of Montreal (+0.7%).

“The desire to live outside the largest urban centres was also reflected in the rapidly increasing housing costs in neighbouring real estate markets, a trend that has continued in spite of the pandemic,” StatsCan added. “Personal health, the ability to work remotely and higher housing costs are among the most important factors contributing to the decision of many Canadians to continue (or to no longer continue) living in large urban centres hardest hit by the pandemic. Whatever the exact reasons, urban sprawl is an important trend to monitor.”

In the same RBC poll cited above, just 14% of Canadians surveyed said they would purchase a property in a major metropolitan area.

Evan Siddall’s Term Extended

Evan Siddall, President and CEO of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, was scheduled to depart the CMHC at the end of 2020, which marked the end of his six-year term.

But the housing agency announced in December that Siddall would stay on in his current role “until a new CEO is appointed.”

“I am pleased to stay on as CEO a little longer in order to ensure a smooth hand-off to my successor and to help lead my 2,000 colleagues as our work in advancing housing affordability for all Canadians continues,” Siddall said in a prepared statement.

The reason for the delay in finding a replacement for the position in unknown.

Steve Huebl

Steve Huebl is a graduate of Ryerson University's School of Journalism and has been with Canadian Mortgage Trends and reporting on the mortgage industry since 2009. His past work experience includes The Toronto Star, The Calgary Herald, the Sarnia Observer and Canadian Economic Press. Born and raised in Toronto, he now calls Montreal home.

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