Flaherty takes pride in mission accomplished, cooling Canada’s housing market

The Canadian Press
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Finance Minister Jim Flaherty speaks with the media in the foyer of the House of Commons prior to question period on
Parliament Hill, Monday in Ottawa. — Photo by The Canadian Press

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is not worried about a housing collapse, saying he is happy he has helped cool the market with the latest round of stricter mortgage rules.

The finance minister says he is also encouraged Canadians are paying down their mortgages and credit cards, and taking on less debt.

The housing slowdown was a big part of the disappointing economic downturn recorded the third quarter, with the sector falling 3.5 per cent annualized.

That was caused in part because Flaherty made mortgage payments more expensive in July by dropping the maximum amortization period to 25 years, but the minister says he has no regrets.

A soft landing in housing is better than a boom followed by a bust, he says.

Overall, the country’s economy advanced a snail’s pace of 0.6 per cent, about half the expectation of the Bank of Canada.

Flaherty says he believes Canada is on track to achieve modest growth in the next fiscal year, but warns Canadians not to expect dramatic growth.

Organizations: Bank of Canada.Flaherty

Geographic location: Canada

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  • OK CRACKERBY
    December 27, 2012 - 19:07

    All fair and good. Now, if we can only get Mr. Flaherty to curb the Banks' HUMONGOUS Record Profits and remove and reduce user fees.

  • Sean
    December 10, 2012 - 18:27

    Cert. not an expert on the subject but know enough that the following is true: we are looked upon with envy by most of the rest of the world for our stability; would you rather live somewhere like Greece?; we don't have riots in the streets over financial matters; watching the US news, I hear increasing comparisons to our economy; it seems people are more worried about what's happening elsewhere than here; I feel fortunate to live here even though I'm currently unemployed; I was never a fan of Mr. Harper!

  • P F Murphy
    December 08, 2012 - 07:51

    Flaherty is patting himself on the back for fixing a problem he, himself, created. Flaherty allowed 40 year mortgages with nothing down so that it would drive the construction industry and created numbers that the Conservatives could celebrate as good management of the economy. Unfortunately with so many people in the market who didn't have enough income, he created a bubble like the US one where all the banks and mortgage companies just wanted to make their share and loaned to losers. He off-loaded some of that, $75-80 billion, onto the taxpayers' backs by putting the stuff with the least owner equity into CMHC in 2008, but he still had to keep lowering the term, 40, 35, 30 and now 25 years to keep the people with the dream of home ownership, but not the money, out of the market that they were going to collapse. Now that he has Canada's economy chugging alone with all the other middle of the road economies, he is patting himself on the back. With the US now in recession, with "Buy US" policies on the horizon again and with Harper selling Canada to the Communist Chinese, you won't need a house that you won't earn enough money to heat and we can all huddle together on the floor around the fire in our commune.

  • dan
    December 07, 2012 - 15:34

    Don II - that may be the case, but you are also wrong. No one should buy a home with out 20% down and should be able to pay it off in 20 years. If you can't do that obviously the prices are too high. The home prices in Canada are out of touch with wages. The historical rule is 3-3.5 x your yearly earnings...no one should be buying houses above this rule. Harper created this problem several years ago by creating the 40 year 0% down rule and at the same time the interest rates were starting to drop. This created a boom of buying, "paper gains" and a false sense of being rich. A lot of people who had houses then started taking money out of their house that they never put in. Expensive houses only drag on the economy. They do not benefit that average person... the average person who buys now has to use the majority of their income to pay the interest, this is money that is being taken out of the local economies. If interest levels go back to the normal levels of 6% there are going to be a lot of people losing their houses. For example on a mortgage that has 300,000 left to be paid and interest goes from 3-6% it will cost an extra 9,000 a year (750 month)..I'd like to know on what planet this isn't a problem considering the reports say the majority of Canadians couldn't even afford a $100 increase on their mortgage. Let's see what the prices are next summer all things being equal as today. Let me propose this question? All things being equal for someone who bought their house 5 year or more ago, who could afford to buy the same house at today's price and rules? The answer...almost none of them. Now tell me we don't have a problem. Also, at these prices...how can anyone save for retirement? The housing industry has become a Ponzi scheme based on a need. At this point the gains are all about dried up and there aren't that many suckers left to foot the bill. The only possible way housing will increase now is if wages, immigration or loan time/cost is extended...but the reality is there will be a lot of old people with no money and no pensions, all they will have is a half paid off house.

  • Kevin Power
    December 04, 2012 - 16:46

    I am glad that Minister Flaherty is proud of his accomplishments. I have worked in the lending industry for 43 years. My personal opinion is that his decision was short sighted and uninformed. With thee low interest rates, mortgages coming up for renewal five years from now, will suffer payment shock if rates rise. Professional brokers or lenders should consult with their clients and develop a repayment strategy that takes advantage of these rates and prepares people to have their mortgage debt reduced on renewal. I have done lots of mortgages for clients on maximum amortizations, but have set the payments at a higher amount, combined with accelerated payments, will help homeowners on renewal time. We do not have a mortgage debt problem in Canada. We have a consumer debt problem. This is precipitated by banks and credit card companies allowing unrealistic borrowing limits, compounded by interest only payments or 1% of the outstanding balances. Lenders do not help people get out of debt, there is more money in it for them by keeping their clients in debt.

  • Don II
    December 04, 2012 - 10:33

    Nobody in the media can see through the Harper Governments deception. It appears that the real reason why the Harper Government reduced the mortgage amortization period from 30 to 25 years had absolutely nothing to do with cooling the housing market or saving Canadians from taking on too much debt. The Harper Government reduced the mortgage repayment period to 25 years in order to exclude a large portion of the real estate buying public from the market and force them into rental units held by Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) owned by Conservative Party supporters all over the Country and especially in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec! The Harper Government does not care about Canadians taking on too much debt. The Harper Government cares about making sure that Conservative politicians and big contributors to the Conservative Party do not have empty apartments in their REIT portfolios! With the stroke of a pen the Harper Government erased the dream of home ownership for millions of younger Canadians in favor of filling empty apartment buildings in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. The Harper Government knows that the media is lazy and the public is gullible and it is able to get away with this kind of abuse of the financial and real estate markets for the benefit of a handful of Conservative Party faithful.