CNBC reported on a study from Clear Capital titled “Clear Capital Reports national Double Dip“:
“Home prices have double dipped nationwide, now lower than their March 2009 trough…a surge in sales of foreclosed properties and a big push by banks to facilitate short sales…[forced] home prices down dramatically. Sales of bank-owned (REO) properties hit 34.5 percent of the market, according to the survey, resulting in a national price drop of 4.9 percent quarterly and 5 percent year-over-year. National home prices have fallen 11.5 percent in the past nine months, a rate not seen since 2008.”
CNBC goes on to indicate that the foreclosure problem has spread beyond just the “bubble” markets that were at the center of the housing crisis:
“…the mid-west is seeing a surge in REOs now, thanks to the plain old recession. 40 percent of the Chicago market is foreclosures, 43 percent in Cleveland and 51 percent in Minneapolis. Home prices fell 8.7 percent in the Mid-West during the past three months compared to the previous quarter.”
It is once again important to note that housing was one of the big targets of the Federal Reserve’s dollar-printing campaign. Given that housing prices have not responded while commodity prices have soared, we must now wonder whether the Fed believes it simply did not print enough, whether there is a longer time lag than anticipated to seeing an impact in housing, and/or worry about the unintended consequences that have yet to be seen. The money had to go somewhere; so far, it has not been into housing.
Two months ago, Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, announced that Canada would change its “mortgage insurance guarantee framework” to prevent over-speculation in its housing market. The new rules went into effect yesterday. These rules:
- Require that all borrowers meet the standards for a five-year fixed rate mortgage even if they choose a mortgage with a lower interest rate and shorter term. This initiative will help Canadians prepare for higher interest rates in the future.
- Lower the maximum amount Canadians can withdraw in refinancing their mortgages to 90 per cent from 95 per cent of the value of their homes. This will help ensure home ownership is a more effective way to save.
- Require a minimum down payment of 20 per cent for government-backed mortgage insurance on non-owner-occupied properties purchased for speculation.
Flaherty referenced the recent financial crisis as motivation for taking these proactive steps.
CBC News reports on the changes in “New mortgage rules take effect” and describes the current strength in Canada’s housing market.