24 May

Developers step up quirky incentive game to lure new condo buyers

General

Posted by: Alisa Aragon

As seen in Vancouver Courier

The trend for quirky new-home buyer incentives is continuing after developer Woodbridge Homes recently offered a year’s worth of avocado toast to buyers of homes at its West Coquitlam development KIRA.

Today, developer Wesgroup is throwing down the gauntlet and telling its competitor, “We’ll see your avocado toast and raise you a glass of wine.”

This new incentive offers buyers a year’s worth of wine if they buy a home at Wesgroup’s MODE development in Vancouver’s River District. The exact offer is a $1,500 gift card for a nearby wine store, equal to roughly one bottle of wine a week for a year, with each purchase of a home in the new riverfront development.

Brad Jones, vice-president of development at Wesgroup, told Glacier Media, “Our offer is kind of cheeky, in response to another developer’s incentive of avocado toast. But we did this in addition to what is already a really strong incentive package for MODE, which is a discount of $10,000 off a one-bedroom home, $15,000 off a two-bed, and $20,000 off a three-bedroom home. And we’re already offering great value for a new home in Vancouver.”

It’s not just condo purchases that are being incentivized. On one of its new rental developments, Wesgroup is offering an incentive of similar value to the wine, this time paying for packing and moving costs. Those who rent a two-bedroom home at The Westminster in New West qualify for its Moving Made Easy incentive, which pays for a full-service move from a reputable local moving company and is valued up to $1,500.

Ryan Thé, vice-president of development for The Westminster, told Glacier Media, “We wanted to offer something that addresses the practical needs of renters. We know it’s hard to find rental homes with our vacancy rates so low. It’s already stressful enough to find a place, so we wanted to make life that bit easier for renters. It’s been going for about a month and we’ve had quite a lot of uptake on that.”

Making a difference

These attractive offers might seem like luxuries a buyer might otherwise have to give up, or ways to make moving less stressful. But one mortgage broker warned buyers not to be too easily swayed by quirky incentives that may not add up to much.

Alisa Aragon of Bridgestone Financing Pros, powered by Dominion Lending Centres, told Glacier Media, “With new home sales slowing, developers are getting creative with their incentives. But what’s ultimately the most important thing is whether this is the right home for you. A gift card worth $1,200 or so is great, but it won’t make much difference to your monthly costs. Make sure you’re taking into account all the costs, including mortgage payments, strata fees and property taxes, and what you’re getting for those costs.”

But as home-buying continues to be out of reach for many and sales continue to slow, developers such as Woodbridge Homes, Wesgroup and Intergulf are also offering more substantial incentives that could make a real difference to a buyer.

In addition to the year of avocado toast, Woodbridge’s KIRA development also gave buyers a limited-time opportunity to put just a 10 per cent deposit down, instead of the usual 20-25 per cent deposit on pre-sale homes.

Wesgroup is offering those stepped discounts from $10,000 to $20,000, depending on the size of unit, at MODE. And in North Vancouver, developer Intergulf is allowing all buyers to put down 15 per cent deposit on a new home at Hunter at Lynn Creek.

More developments offering low-deposit and other incentives include:

  • Court by Heinrichs Development: 10 per cent deposit and live free for the first six months
  • Luxia at Yorkson by Isle of Mann: 5-10 per cent deposit and a $5,000 gift card from Urban Barn with a purchase of a home.
  • 27 North by Intragulf and Tatla: 10 per cent deposit plus choice of ski pass and skis for all the family, free golf for a year, free mountain bikes for the family, or the cash equivalent.

And these are just a small snapshot of the value-added incentives being offered around the region’s housing projects, as developers attempt to lure buyers in a challenging market. Many companies won’t advertise it, but would offer a “decoration allowance” that can amount to tens of thousands of dollars returned to the buyer on completion, while still selling the home at full price on paper. Other developers will negotiate other aspects of a pre-sale home, such as throwing in upgrades, or an additional parking stall, or offering a discount to take no parking stall.

An alternative approach

Taking a different approach to getting people into its homes, and as part of its “Locals First” policy, Panatch Group is operating a rent-to-own scheme at its Port Moody development 50 Electronic Avenue. This program allowed 30 eligible households (first-time buyers who live and work in Port Moody), selected by lottery out of hundreds of applicants, to rent a home at less than market value for up to two years. Within this time, the participating households get the option to purchase their unit and will then have their accumulated rent, which has been collated in a trust, paid towards a purchase price that was locked in at the contract date.

Kush Panatch, president of Richmond-based, family-owned Panatch Group, said, “For a lack of a better name, it’s basically taking 30 families or people in Port Moody and providing them with what I call a pathway to home ownership.”

He added, “The housing challenge is very real.”

– Joannah Connolly, Vancouver Courier,
May 24, 2019 06:00 AM

15 May

Bank of Canada Reduces Prospects of a Rate Hike

General

Posted by: Alisa Aragon

A greater-than-expected slowdown in global economic activity has triggered a slowdown in the pace of interest rate normalization by many central banks. In response to these central bank policy changes and perceived progress in U.S.-China trade talks, global financial conditions and stock market sentiment have improved, pushing up oil and other commodity prices.

Oil prices have risen since January in response to improved market sentiment, a greater-than-expected output cut in Saudi Arabia and risks of falling production in Iran, Venezuela and Libya. In its projection, the Bank assumes that the prices of Brent and WTI oil will remain close to their recent average levels. Uncertainty around the future path for global oil prices, however, remains elevated. The most important considerations relate to OPEC policy and geopolitical risks to production. As well, U.S. shale output could increase at a faster pace than expected.

In Canada, growth during the first half of 2019 is now expected to be slower than was anticipated in the January Monetary Policy Report (MPR). In another very dovish statement, the Bank of Canada acknowledged this morning that the slowdown in the Canadian economy has been more profound and more broadly based than it had expected earlier this year. The Bank had forecast weak exports and investment in the energy sector and a decline in consumer spending in the oil-producing provinces. However, as indicated by the mere 0.1% quarterly growth in GDP in the fourth quarter, the deceleration in activity was far more troubling. Investment and exports outside the energy sector have been negatively affected by trade policy uncertainty and the global slowdown. Weaker-than-anticipated housing and consumption also contributed to the downturn.

As was unanimously expected, the Bank maintained its target for the overnight rate at 1-3/4% for the fourth consecutive time. As well, the Bank dropped any reference to future rate hikes, bringing its policy in line with the Federal Reserve and other major industrial central banks.

“The Bank expects growth to pick up, starting in the second quarter of this year. Housing activity is expected to stabilize given continued population gains, the fading effects of past housing policy changes, and improved global financial conditions. Consumption will be underpinned by strong growth in employment income. Outside of the oil and gas sector, investment will be supported by high rates of capacity utilization and exports will expand with strengthening global demand. Meanwhile, the contribution to growth from government spending has been revised down in light of Ontario’s new budget.”

Overall, the Bank projects real GDP growth of 1.2% in 2019 and around 2% in 2020 and 2021. This forecast implies a modest widening of the output gap, which will be absorbed over the projection period. Inflation is close to the 2% central bank target.

The central bank clearly stated that given all of these economic conditions, an accommodative policy interest rate continues to be warranted. The policy statement added that the Governing Council “will continue to evaluate the appropriate degree of monetary policy accommodation as new data arrive. In particular, we are monitoring developments in household spending, oil markets, and global trade policy to gauge the extent to which the factors weighing on growth and the inflation outlook are dissipating”.

Bottom Line: The Bank of Canada has revised down its estimate of the neutral nominal policy rate. The neutral rate is defined as the sum of two components: i) the real rate that is consistent with output at its noninflationary potential level, and ii) 2% to account for the target inflation rate. The Bank now estimates the neutral rate to be about a quarter percentage point lower than assessed in April of last year, in a range of 2.25% to 3.25%. The midpoint of the range for potential output growth is now estimated to be slightly lower than in the April 2018 MPR, at 1.8% on average between 2019 and 2021 and at 1.9% in 2011. It is likely that these reassessments are consistent with unchanged policy interest rates for the remainder of this year.

Housing Market Details in the April Monetary Policy Report

While housing is expected to stabilize at the national level, the Bank is aware of the risks to the outlook, particularly in the Greater Vancouver Area. For instance, the effects on growth of the revised B-20 guideline are expected to dissipate in many markets, although they could persist longer in areas with high house prices and that have been subject to other changes to housing policies. The stabilization of expectations for house prices in British Columbia and Ontario may indicate a forthcoming stabilization and subsequent increase in resale activity (see Chart 13 below).

The changes to local and provincial policies to address speculation, combined with the B-20 revisions, are having more pronounced effects in the Greater Vancouver Area (GVA) than in the Greater Toronto Area. Thus, while stabilization of activity is expected this year in the base-case projection, there is a risk that it could be delayed in the GVA.

Meanwhile, ongoing challenges in the oil industry are expected to continue to weigh on the Alberta housing market. In contrast, a strong economy and investor interest are expected to boost the market in Montréal.

The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive introduced in the 2019 federal budget is expected to support housing demand and may also lead to improving sentiment in the housing market. However, delays in purchases by homebuyers who want to take advantage of the new measure could influence the timing of resale activity in 2019.

After declining for two years, residential investment is expected to expand modestly in 2020 and 2021. Given the trend reduction in housing affordability, construction of multi-unit residences is expected to resume its trend increase to meet demand for less-expensive homes.

Dr. Sherry Cooper, Chief Economist-DLMV