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First Time Buyer Friday #6 – What Does My Money Get Me?

In my continuing series, First-Time-Buyer Fridays, I answer a common question from a first-time buyer. If you have a question to submit, first-time-buyer or experienced investor, put one in the comments below, or fire me an e-mail at Tim@TimAyres.ca.

house-money

Q. I want to spend about $400,000 on my first home – what can I buy for that kind of money?

A. Let’s break this down and see what $400,000 would cost first. To buy a $400,000 home, you’d need 5% down at a minimum, which is $20,000. The remaining $380,000 would need to be mortgaged. If you were to get a 5-year fixed rate at 4%, amortized over 35 years, your monthly payment would be about $1675. A two-income family should be able to afford that payment.

Keep in mind that you should think long-term. While interest rates today are at historic lows, you need to think about what happens in 5 years when it’s time to renew. No one knows where interest rates will be at that point, and you should build in a comfort zone by calculating the payment at a higher rate of interest. At 5%, the same mortgage estimated above would be $1905 – at 6%, $2150, and at 7%, $2401. The risks of this can be offset by choosing a shorter amortization period (25 or 30 years, instead of 35), which would allow you to pay off more of the principal before it’s time to renew, or you could make extra payments where your budget (and mortgage terms) allow.

So, now that we’ve established what $400,000 looks like on a monthly basis, let’s have a look at what that sum would buy you in today’s market.

In the Victoria core area (Victoria, Oak Bay, Saanich, View Royal and Esquimalt) there are 27 single family homes under $400,000 as of writing this post. Most are small, and old, but there are always a few gems in this price range. There are plenty of condos under $400,000 – 384 to be exact. In the higher end of the range, there are brand new suites at The Juliet, The Ovation, The Monaco, and other brand new high end developments in the core. At the lower end of the range, older buildings (which usually mean larger suites) offer stability and peace-of-mind for less than $250,000. There are 45 townhouses in Victoria and vicinity under $400,000 as of writing, with lots of variation in style, age and location.

Moving further out of the Victoria core area, you’ll get more bang for your buck. In Langford and Colwood as of this writing, there are 30 single family houses and 44 townhouses in Langford and Colwood for sale under $400,000 – including brand new homes in the Happy Valley area, and townhouses at the foot of Bear Mountain. $400,000 would get you nearly any condo, with 215 condos under $400,000 in Langford and Colwood to choose from. Only 21 are above $400,000, mostly on Bear Mountain, or in that new development on the waterfront in Colwood at Esquimalt Lagoon.

Further out west to Sooke is where many first-time buyers are choosing to go (here are 10 good reasons to move to Sooke.) The drive to Victoria is a little longer (but it’s nice!) and the town smaller, but that means that you get a lot more for your money. There are 49 houses for sale in Sooke under $400,000, including many brand new beautiful houses in new subdivisions. If you buy in Sooke, there is also the option of buying an older home to renovate to your liking. Older homes will most likely have a larger lot, too. There are not many condos or townhouses in Sooke, but more are being built all the time. Almost all of them are under $400,000, including the brand-new townhouses at The Pointe in Sun River Estates and waterfront condos along Kaltasin Road. As of writing, 29 condos and townhouses in Sooke under $400,000 are for sale.

I have found that first time buyers are often surprised by 1) How much they can afford, and 2) What that money will get them. There’s plenty of product out there, prices are declining, and with the Bank of Canada reporting that interest rates will remain low until at least the second half of 2010, there hasn’t been a better time to buy in a long time – if it’s right for your situation.

It may or may not make sense for you to buy right now. To get a clearer picture, or for more information about any of the homes mentioned in this post, give me a call at 250-885-0512, e-mail me at Tim@TimAyres.ca or fill in my contact form. Connect with me on Twitter at Twitter.com/TimAyres.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Bank of Canada Cuts Interest Rate To Lowest Rate In History At January Meeting

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Hello Google Searchers! A post about the March 3, 2009 announcement can be found here!

This morning, the Bank of Canada lowered its key overnight lending rate (the rate at which it lends funds to Canada’s commercial banks) to 1%, slashing it a further 0.5% and taking to 3.5% the total amount shaved off the key overnight rate since the current trend of trimming it started last year.

The Bank believes that the Canadian economy will contract 1.2% this year and we will experience two quarters of deflation and expects the economy will start to turn around in 2010, with a healthy growth of 3.8% as changes to policy take hold. The Bank also noted that the lower Canadian dollar will make Canadian commodities cheaper to other countries.

Because the Bank doesn’t foresee core inflation returning to its target 2% until 2011, you can expect interest rates to remain low for all of this year and next.

Canada’s big banks have already indicated that they would be matching the full 0.5% rate cut, trimming their prime rates to 3%. I believe this is a good sign that the availability of credit has loosened up somewhat. In recent months, when the Bank of Canada has made a cut to interest rates, the big banks have been hesitant to match the cut in their prime consumer lending rates, opting to keep the savings to themselves to offset higher credit costs.

As a result, anybody on a variable rate mortgage is now saving more money, and anyone shopping for a new mortgage just increased their buying power. With inventory on the MLS starting to ramp up, this combination is great if you’ve been thinking about buying.

The full Bank of Canada news release can be found here.

For more information and sound advice on real estate in Victoria and Sooke, please contact me.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Bank of Canada Slashes Interest Rates In December 2008 Meeting

Chop Chop Goes The Interest Rate!

Chop Chop Goes The Interest Rate!

UPDATE JAN 20, 2009: Click Here

In an effort to provide economic stimulus, the Bank of Canada has lowered its key overnight interest rate by 3/4 of a percent to 1.5% in its meeting today. Since the Canadian economy has been effectively hung out to dry by the political three-ring circus in Ottawa, I’m not surprised to see such a deep cut. If Parliament can’t/won’t do anything, then it’s up to the monetary policy makers at the Bank of Canada to provide stimulus to our economy.

Citing worse-than-expected economic performance both in this country and around the globe, the Bank has admitted that we are in fact in recession, but notes that recent fiscal and monetary actions by world governments is starting to have a positive effect on financial markets, however more time is needed for things to stabilize.

The trimming of the key rate provides a 50-year low in borrowing costs in Canada.

As with any rate cut by the BoC, it remains to be seen whether or not those savings will be reflected in the Big Five banks’ prime lending rates, currently at 4.0%.

Assuming the banks adopt the Bank’s drop in lending rates, and with the recent decline in real estate prices, sidelined buyers may just decide it’s a good time to enter the marketplace.

The Bank of Canada next meets on January 20th, 2009 to set the overnight rate. You can read the full Bank of Canada news release here.

If you have any questions about mortgages or about buying or selling real estate, please call me at 250-885-0512 or use the following link to contact me.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Bank Of Canada Holds Fast on Interest Rate – June 10th, 2008

Update: December 9th, 2008 Rate Announcement

The Bank of Canada surprised most economists in this country by this morning declaring that they would Bank Of Canadanot change the key overnight rate from its current 3%. This is the rate that is used to lend funds to financial institutions across the nation, who in turn lend funds to consumers. Typically, when it drops, banks will also decrease their rates for adjustable-rate mortgages. When it increases, consumers will see a rise in their rate.

The Bank cited better-than-expected global economic growth, which has offset the lessening demand for Canadian goods in the United States. Record high commodity prices (hello, $130+ oil!) have helped to push the Bank’s forecast for total CPI (consumer price index) inflation to more than 3% for 2008. The Bank’s goal is to maintain core inflation at 2%. They state in their release that the Canadian economy is operating in a state of excess supply (less demand for our goods, most notably from the U.S.), which should balance out inflation to keep it at 2% this year. The Bank foresees steady economic growth over the next 2 years, and will monitor inflation closely to keep it in check.

My interpretation is that we won’t see another rate cut for awhile. If the Bank feels that inflation is being held in check by global economic conditions, then they probably won’t increase the rate in the near future. This is good news for buyers, and home owners with adjustable-rate mortgages. My monthly payments have decreased by over $100 in the last year with these rate cuts.

Your comments or questions are welcomed and encouraged!
Use the reply box below this post!

Tim Ayres


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Bank Of Canada Slashes Key Interest Rate by 0.5%

UPDATE: JUNE 10 INTEREST RATE ANNOUNCEMENT POSTED HERE

April 22nd, 2008

In keeping with its mandate to keep inflation in Canada at the 2% target, the Bank of Canada todayBank Of Canada announced that it was lowering its overnight lending rate by 50 basis points (one-half per cent) to 3%. Citing deepening economic woes in the U.S., tightening credit conditions, and overall instability in the world economy, it’s hoped that this economic stimulus, along with strong domestic demand and high employment, will help keep Canada’s economy performing well.

The Bank forecasts that Canada’s economy will grow by 1.4% this year, 2.4% in 2009, and 3.3% in 2010 when the Bank also projects that inflation will reach the target 2%. The overnight rate has been lowered 150 basis points (1.5%) since December of last year.

The press release hinted that this may be the last of the rate cuts for a while – the timing of any further monetary stimulus will depend on global conditions and their effect on Canadian inflation.

This news is positive to anyone on a variable-rate mortgage, which is tied to the central bank rate. Fixed-rate mortgages are slower to come down, but should fall into line with the rate cut. With more and more choices on the market than in recent years, buyers are in a good position to extend their purchasing power and get into their perfect place.

The Bank’s next meeting to discuss interest rates is June 10, 2008.

Read the full Bank Of Canada press release here.

Tim Ayres


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Bank Of Canada Expected To Cut Interest Rates

UPDATE: APR 22, 2008 RATE ANNOUNCEMENT

Don’t forget, the Bankof Canada meets tomorrow, April 22nd, 2008. The Bank is expected to cut interest rates by another 50 basis points (0.5%) to generate some stimulus in the weakening economy. This is of course great news for anyone on floating rate mortgages and buyers of real estate. With MLS listings at numbers we haven’t seen in years, buyers have more choice than ever when looking for that perfect place.

Be sure to check back tomorrow to see my post about the rate change meeting and my commentary.

Tim Ayres


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