What’s in a name? Well, in the case of the Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation, “mortgage” likely won’t for much longer.
The housing agency announced last week that it will be undergoing a rebranding in the coming months to better reflect its mandate. CEO Evan Siddall says the current name overemphasizes homeownership financing and doesn’t highlight the agency’s work related to housing affordability.
The name “Housing Canada” has already been floated, but federal legislation would be needed for an official name change. However, in an interview with The Canadian Press, Siddall said the agency could simply use a trade name.
He added that now is the time to look at such a name change that would better align the organization’s present and future.
“People always talk about the current moment as being an inflection point,” he said. “There’s a moment now that policy-makers are reflecting on and we’ll see what happens in the coming weeks and months, but this is for sure a moment like that.”
Home Affordability Improved in Q2
Canada’s large urban centres became more affordable in the second quarter of 2020, according to National Bank’s Housing Affordability Monitor.
That follows deteriorating affordability in the two previous quarters. The improvement is attributed to higher incomes and, more importantly, lower interest rates.
“[Interest rates] declined 19 basis points in the quarter, reflecting the easing from the central bank,” reads the report. “Combined, income and mortgage rates were more than enough to offset the increase in home prices”
NBC notes that the quarterly data doesn’t capture the full extent of the decline of 5-year fixed rates seen throughout the pandemic.
“Looking ahead, the preliminary data for rates shows additional improvements in the third quarter of the year (cumulatively they are down over 70 bps),” the report notes. “While we expect this to help affordability, home prices should remain resilient based on the latest resale market data showing record sales volumes.”
Homeowner Sentiment Improving, MPC Survey Shows
As economic and housing market indicators have improved over the past couple of months, so too has homeowner sentiment.
The second in a series of four surveys conducted by Mortgage Professionals Canada has found improvements in homeowner confidence in August compared to July.
For one, the survey noted an increase in the percentage of non-owners who expect to purchase a home in the coming year, from 7% as of year-end 2019 to 16% in August. Similarly, there was a substantial drop in non-owners who said they would never purchase a home, from 32% at the end of 2019 to 19% in August.
Optimism in the economy in the coming 12 months and the percentage of those who agree Canadian real estate is a good long-term investment both increased since July, the report found.
“We’re encouraged by the new survey data, which indicated that confidence in the housing sector improved during July and August,” said Paul Taylor, President and CEO of MPC. “As many Canadians become more comfortable with our new business operating environments, optimism about future economic activity appears to be buoying housing market activity and expectations for future purchases.”
The latest survey also found an increase in homeowners who believe now is a good time to buy a home or condominium (with an average rating of 6.18 in August, up from 6.05 in July and 5.82 at year-end 2019). A score of 8-10 signifies strong agreement and a score of 1-3 signifies strong pessimism.
Consumers are also more likely to expect a rise in home prices since July (with an average score of 6.46 vs. 5.94 in July).