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Industry News...

 Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has pressed Manulife Bank into reversing a mortgage-rate cut, underscoring the government’s determination to prevent lenders from stoking the housing market at a time of soaring consumer debt.


Flaherty instructed one of his officials to call Manulife on Monday night and indicate displeasure at its move to lower the rate on a five-year fixed mortgage to 2.89% from 3.09%, saying its new promotion was “unacceptable,” according to his spokesperson.


Unlike two weeks ago, when the Finance Minister personally scolded Bank of Montreal for cutting its rate to 2.99%, his warning was heeded.


The unprecedented intervention reflects deep concern about residential real estate prices and debt. The number of home sales has dropped markedly since Flaherty changed the rules last summer to make it more difficult to obtain mortgages, but house prices have not come down significantly in most areas of the country and debt-to-income levels continue to hit new highs.


Click here for more from the Globe and Mail.


Killing 30-year amortizations on high-ratio insured mortgages was a move that some criticized and some applauded. But few could measure the potential side effects when the decision was made last July.


But now, Will Dunning, CAAMP’s Chief Economist, has put out data that quantifies one of the risks. That risk is to employment.


In a recent report presented to Ottawa officials (and made available to, Dunning concludes that a stunning 190,000 jobs will be lost between 2013-2015 due to the maximum amortization being cut from 30 to 25 years.


That’s 70,000 lost jobs in the new build market and 120,000 in the resale market, in just three years.


Click here to read more from


As we head into the spring real estate market, many Canadians are sitting on the sidelines instead of jumping in. Part of the reason is the mixed messages in the media: some experts call the Canadian housing prices a bubble, yet the real estate industry say prices are stable and it’s never been a better to time to buy.


As if that’s not enough to boggle potential buyers, this month the Bank of Montreal upped the stakes by offering a five-year fixed-rate mortgage of 2.99%, making monthly payments temptingly low – and potentially spurring a price war between lenders.


If you’re thinking of buying a new home, it’s important to consider the low rates, but also some basic tips to help with your decision.


Click here to read more form Chatelaine.


Although there are genuine hurdles to owning a home for Canadians, a new Royal LePage Real Estate survey shows that Generation Y (born between 1980 and 1994) and Baby Boomers (born between 1947 and 1966) still strongly desire a house of their own.


The survey, conducted last September by Leger Marketing and released today, found that 81% of the Generation Y sample indicated that they have plans to move to another primary residence at some point in the future, with a significant proportion (39%) stating that they have a move planned at some point in the next two years.


Baby Boomers were less interested in moving, with 57% stating they currently have no plans to move to another residence.


“Baby Boomers have built homes for themselves. They are established in their neighbourhoods and their residences have become a place of happiness for family and friends,” said Phil Soper, CEO of Royal LePage Real Estate. “It’s their children that are seeking to create a similar atmosphere of their own, even though new impediments exist for this younger generation.”


Click here to read the Royal LePage press release.


As mortgage season heats up, a new survey commissioned by ING DIRECT finds that a majority of Canadians (67%) who have had or currently have a mortgage feel the process is either complicated (31%), confusing (20%) or hard to figure out (16%).


Thirty-eight percent of current or former mortgage holders say getting a mortgage is time-consuming, while one in five describes the process as annoying. By comparison, a mere 7% of respondents feel the process is stress-free.


The survey revealed that negotiating for a rate (59%), deciding on the right term and payment schedule (55%) and getting customer service help from the lender (35%) are among the most stressful aspects of obtaining a mortgage. Respondents age 18-34 indicated haggling for a rate (65%) was among the most stressful part of the process while more than half (56%) agreed researching and comparing offers made the process more difficult.


Click here to read the ING DIRECT press release.


It seems like only yesterday that calendars ticked over to 2013 but here we are in the middle of March. Nevertheless, you don’t have to wait for the New Year to implement a new resolution – setting aside one random day for a financial bootcamp to free up thousands of dollars a year is always a smart move.


With many recurring monthly expenses, there are plenty of opportunities to save money. Here’s how to get started: Grab a pen and paper – or spreadsheet – and list the items, the monthly cost, and the phone number for customer service, for each one. Leave one column open to list the new cost you’re hopefully going to get and one final column to calculate the monthly savings.


Scan your bank and credit card statements to help you put together your list of expenses. Everything is fair game: insurance policies, cell phones, TV, Internet, gym memberships, banking fees (including credit card interest rates and annual fees), and so on.


Before you call each service provider, you need to check what the competitors are offering for the same services. While this involves some research, it can help you negotiate with your current provider – and in some cases it might lead you to switch. If that is the case, make sure to ask your current service provider about any possible cancellation fees, and then bring these up with the competitor to see if they will cover them.


Click here for the full Globe and Mail article.


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