How will the Greater Toronto Area’s housing market perform in the remaining months of 2019? It depends who you ask — but at least one top executive at a Toronto-based national mortgage lender suggests stability is in the cards.
“During this quarter, we saw some encouraging signs from the housing market. Sales activity is picking up, with particular strength in the GTA,” says Home Capital Group CEO Yousry Bissada.
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Bissada’s remarks came during a conference call covering the holding company’s Q2 financials.
“The latest data on economic growth, employment and interest rate expectations are consistent with our outlook for a stable and balanced real estate market for the rest of 2019,” he continues.
Home Capital Group offers mortgages through its subsidiary Home Trust Company and reported $1.28 billion worth of mortgage originations in the second quarter, up from $1.22 billion in Q1.
Historically low interest rates have fueled Canadian borrowing and homebuying in recent years.
Last year, it looked like the Bank of Canada was set to continue on its path of hiking its policy rate, which it had done five times between summer 2017 and October 2018.
This was significant because the rate influences the mortgage market.
So continued increases would further discourage borrowing and, by extension, homebuying activity, at a time when policymakers were tightening access to credit through expanded mortgage stress tests.
But with a weaker-than-expected economic output — and persistent global concerns over trade wars — Canada’s central bank has stood on the sidelines since the last fall.
Now, many experts anticipate the Bank of Canada’s next move is a rate cut — it’s just a matter of when.
And rates for five-year fixed mortgages, the most common kind of mortgage in the country, have dipped to multi-year lows.
Meantime, Home Capital Group’s CEO isn’t the only one to note the supporting role low mortgage rates are playing in Toronto’s housing market.
“As we suspected, strong demographic demand, limited supply (at least for single detached and larger units) and a plunge in mortgage rates have put a floor under the market,” writes BMO Senior Economist Robert Kavcic in a note sent to clients this week.