How The Portrait Of a First-Time Homebuyer Has Changed Since The Stress Test

The mortgage stress test, extended to uninsured mortgages in January 2018, has generated a diversity of opinions. Its proponents argue that the stress test has introduced financial discipline while not hurting prospective homebuyers. The discontents believe that the stress test has eroded the affordability of first-time homebuyers, some of whom have been forced to rent for more extended periods.

The recently released CMHC mortgage consumer survey helps unpack the arguments on the impact of the stress test. The CMHC surveyed 1,385 homebuyers across Canada who had undertaken a mortgage transaction in the past 18 months. This implies that some respondents reported on their mortgage-related experience from 2018.

An exciting feature of the survey is the distinction between first-time homebuyers, who constituted 47 per cent of the sample, and the repeat buyers representing the other 53 per cent.

The majority of the first-time homebuyers were 25 to 34 years old, compared to just 17 per cent of the repeat buyers. Also, singles accounted for almost one in four first-time homebuyers compared to one in 10 repeat buyers. Interestingly, 61 per cent of the respondents were female, suggesting an increase in home purchasing by women.

The homebuyers’ top concerns in 2019 were housing affordability, housing size and proximity to public transit. These concerns coincided with housing prices declining across Canada in 2018 as prices remained lower than the peak prices reached in either 2016 or 2017.

Many industry observers credited the stress test for the decline in prices and the erosion of housing affordability because homebuyers had to qualify at a mortgage rate approximately two percentage points higher than the contracted rate. The 2019 survey, though, presents a positive impression of the stress test among homebuyers.

The survey reported that 65 per cent of the buyers believed the stress test would “keep more Canadians from taking on a mortgage they can’t afford.” However, one in five homebuyers acquired a dwelling that did not meet their needs.

An interesting picture emerges when one compares the share of first-time homebuyers respondents in 2018 and 2019. The 2018 survey, completed in April 2018, interviewed 4,000 respondents who had undertaken a mortgage transaction in the past 12 months. This implies that most respondents in the 2018 survey would have reported on their homebuying experience before the stress test’s reach was broadened in January 2018.

Most homebuyers (56 per cent) in the 2018 survey were first-time homebuyers, but their share fell to 47 per cent in the 2019 survey. Could it be that a decline of 16 per cent in the share of first-time homebuyers in the 2019 survey was partially due to the stress-test-induced erosion of housing affordability?

Other statistics reported in the survey are indicative of the higher affordability burdens even when housing prices had declined from the peak observed earlier.

Consider that 22 per cent of first-time homebuyers reported renting for more than ten years in the 2018 survey. Their share jumped to 31 per cent in 2019. Hence, a much larger share of first-time homebuyers, who had purchased homes in 2018-19, reported renting for more than ten years to save for a house.

Another indicator of a shift in the demographics is the share of first-time homebuyers who had rented with family and friends before buying. Interestingly, the family- and friends-assisted cohort of first-time homebuyers jumped from 28 per cent in 2018 to 44 per cent in 2019. Similarly, those first-time homebuyers who rented on their own before buying a house declined from 39 per cent in 2018 to 23 per cent in 2019.

At the same time, no fewer than 76 per cent of the respondents reported that the changes related to the stress test “had little or no impact on their decision to buy a home.” However, of the remaining 24 per cent (one in four homebuyers) affected by the stress test, some compromises were needed on the path to homeownership. Most cut back on other expenses (60 per cent), relied more on their savings (59 per cent) or bought a smaller home (52 per cent).

Whereas 47 per cent of homebuyers affected by the stress test purchased a smaller or less expensive home in 2018, a much larger share of 61 per cent reported the same in 2019.

The increase in household debt burdens, primarily because of mortgage-related debt, is also reflected in the survey. Compared to 2018, when 19 per cent of buyers reported their debt being higher than expected, the share increased to 23 per cent in 2019. Of those struggling with making regular mortgage payments, 73 per cent cited the credit card debt as the reason. The comparative stats further revealed that buyers with less than 20 per cent of the down payment increased in 2019 compared to 2018. Furthermore, the 2019 survey found a slight increase in the share of those “who didn’t have enough saved for a larger down payment.” CMHC’s 2019 survey of homebuying offers valuable insights on how homebuying has changed over the past few years. Though the survey periods do not permit a strict before-and-after comparison of homebuying concerning the stress test, still the indicators reported suggest that in 2019, FTHB accounted for fewer homebuyers, comprised of a larger share of those who rented for more extended periods, and their savings increasingly fell short to qualify for a mortgage.

 Article by: Financial Post

The Ultimate Winter Home Preparation Checklist

Fall is the perfect time to winterize your home. As much as we may not want to acknowledge it, the snow is headed our way and Old Man Winter will soon be knocking on doors. Is your home ready for the visit? This week we’re helping you get ready with the ultimate winter home preparation checklist! Give your home a little TLC before winter starts and you’ll reap the benefits all season long.


  • Trim any overgrown branches near the house and electrical wires to prevent iced-over or wind-swept branches from causing property damage or a power problem.
  • Clean your patio furniture and put it away or cover it with a heavy tarp to protect it from the elements. The same goes for any lawn equipment.
  • Clean out the gutters to prevent water damage to the roof and surrounding areas and make sure the gutters and downspouts are secure.
  • Clean any debris from your outdoor air conditioning unit and cover it with a protective tarp.
  • Clean out your planters and bring pots made of clay or other fragile materials inside.
  • Remove any attached hoses, drain them, and store them indoors to prevent damage.
  •  Wrap any outside faucets with covers to prevent water damage. Be sure to drain them first and then shut them off to protect against the pipes bursting.
  • Check your roof for any missing, loose, or damaged shingles. If you find any, be sure to have them replaced to prevent leaks.
  • Cut the grass and leaves so that the small cut up pieces will nourish the lawn over the winter.


  • Schedule an appointment for furnace maintenance to avoid any surprises. Having a furnace check-up done before the cold weather officially hits is a good way to avoid waiting for an appointment if your unit conks out on the coldest day of the year!
  • Clean your whole home humidifier and replace the evaporator pad.
  • Check that all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.
  • Check doors and windows for air leaks. Caulk inside and outside or replace the weather-stripping if necessary to help stop warm air escaping.
  • Remove window air conditioning units and replace the window.
  • If your sump pump only runs occasionally, be sure to test it to ensure that it is in working order to avoid floods when the snow melts. Do this by pouring water down to make sure the pump turns on when it should.
  • Replace your furnace filter for maximum efficiency and improved air quality.

The changing weather in the winter can wreak havoc on your home if you’re not prepared, so follow this winter home preparation checklist to keep things in tip-top shape!

Article by: HomeBridge Canada Inc.

3 Ways LED Lights Are Better Than Ever

The last 15 years have seen the biggest advancements in lighting since Thomas Edison brought his incandescent bulb to the market. Lightbulbs are now smart enough to listen to our voices and promote a better night’s sleep. Perhaps the most helpful advancement in lighting is the improved quality of LEDs. Today’s high-quality LEDs deliver impressive energy savings — near 90% — compared with incandescent bulbs, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. LEDs are also driving a lighting revolution with smaller sizes, improved brightness and wide-ranging colors.
Each of these advancements creates opportunities to illuminate your house in great new ways, making this a perfect time to rethink your home’s lighting.

1. Smaller Size

LEDs can be as small as the head of a pin, and this allows us to light our homes more discreetly and with more precision than ever. LED strips can be hidden inside cabinets, drawers, closet rods, shelves and just about any place you can imagine. We can place light where it is needed instead of attempting to fill a room with a broad wash of light that often causes glare. 

The small size of today’s LEDs also makes adding cove lighting to homes easier than ever. A few strips of LED lights tucked into a ceiling cove can make a classic ceiling feature even more dramatic.

Smaller recessed downlights are another result. It is now possible to get everything you need from a series of 1- or 2-inch downlights instead of the 6- or 8-inch cans of decades past. Many homeowners love the less cluttered ceiling that results.

2. Brighter Light

While LEDs have become smaller in size, they have grown in brightness. The combination of small size and high brightness allows them to deliver functional light in new ways. 

Brighter LEDs allow us to provide all the light we need on countertops when placed discretely underneath upper cabinets. This can reduce shadows on the counter to almost nothing — a much better and safer approach.

Most LED bulbs available to the consumer are labeled with an equivalent incandescent bulb wattage, such as “60-watt equivalent.” This can be quite helpful, as you simply need a higher or lower number for the wattage equivalent if you want more or less light. As a basic guide, an LED bulb equivalent to 60 watts should produce about 800 lumens, a technical measurement of the amount of light leaving a bulb.

3. Wider Range of Colors

With a simple push of a button, LEDs can be mixed together to change into nearly any color imaginable. Red, green, blue and white LEDs combine to create a rainbow of colors that can set the perfect scene for a romantic dinner and then change into your favorite team’s colors for watching the big game.While colored LED lights might seem like a novelty, selecting the right color “temperature” can make a dramatic difference for everyday lighting. A bulb’s lighting facts will use the term “color appearance,” which is another term for “color temperature.” This helpful metric is measured in degrees Kelvin, with lower color temperatures being warmer, or amber, and higher color temperatures being cooler, or blue.

Article from: Houzz