“From a fiscal point of view, the Liberal government will be moving Canada from a modestly restrictive economy to an economy with modest stimulus,” explained Craig Alexander, vice president of economic analysis at the C. D. Howe Institute.
But he’s not too concerned about this stimulus. Alexander explained that the $10-billion annual spend promised by the Liberals (for the next couple of years) won’t really impact the overall valuations of the Canadian economy.
“Analysts will look at how fast the economy is growing, along with the budget deficits, and even with the modest Liberal spending, the debt to GDP will continue to decline, meaning international investors won’t get too worried as a result.”
For homebuyers in the hot markets of Toronto and Vancouver—and to smaller extent in Montreal and Saskatoon—this will probably mean continued interest by foreign investors in Canadian real estate. For the last year, foreign investors have been partly blamed for the run-up in housing prices in the hot markets of Toronto and Vancouver.
First-time buyers might get incentives
One way the Liberals propose to deal with housing affordability is to analyze all factors that help or hinder housing affordability in Toronto and Vancouver and in other parts of Canada.
The Liberals have also made vague promises about helping the first-time homebuyer, explained Robert McLister, independent mortgage broker and founder of . “This might mean looser policies, such as longer amortization limits for first-time buyers, but so far few details have been released.”
Higher interest rates…are coming
Also, the economic stimulus promised by the newly elected Liberals will also impact Joe Canada’s bottom-line, said McLister. “When a government spends money and provides fiscal support to the economy, that usually means higher inflation and that usually translates to higher interest rates.” As such, McLister said that Canadian homeowners should expect “a potential uptick in interest rates.” This may help cool overheated housing markets in Toronto or Vancouver, although the Liberals have also promised to examine what can be done in these two markets, specifically, when it comes to making housing affordable for Canadians.
Changes to the Home Buyers’ Plan
Homeowners may, yet, come out ahead with the Liberals, explained McLister. “They’ve promised to open up access to the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP), which will give more people access to money for a down payment on a house.” The HBP has a limit of $25,000 and the Liberals don’t plan to increase that but they will loosen the existing qualification rules for the HBP to allow more Canadians affected by sudden and significant life changes—such as divorce, death of a spouse or an employment move—to access their RRSP savings for a down payment.
“This modernizes the HBP and doesn’t limit it to just first-time homebuyers,” explains Peter Veselinovich, VP of housing and mortgages for Investors Group. “It means those facing significant life events, including adult-children who want to create in-law suites for elderly parents, will have access to more financing.”
Renters will win
Trudeau’s plans may also benefit renters and real estate investors, said McLister. The Liberals had promised a 10-year investment in social housing infrastructure, prioritizing affordable housing and seniors’ facilities (including building more units and refurbishing existing units). There will also be tax breaks—including the removal of the GST on new capital investments—to encourage the construction of new rental housing.
“I suspect the Liberals won’t really put their mark on housing policy until the next budget, which comes out next spring,” says McLister.