Daily Market Update

Is this the lowest posted mortgage rate ever? 1.49 per cent!
There are low mortgage rates and then there’s this one. A credit union has shaken up the spring buying season by offering a rate of just 1.49 per cent and is marketing it as “the lowest known posted mortgage rate in Canadian history.” However, the Toronto-based Meridian’s fixed rate is only a short loan, just 18 months, and is only available to those in Ontario through the credit union’s 67 branches, not online. Rob McLister, founder of ratespy.com, told the Financial Post that it will save buyers $1,609 of interest for every $100,000 borrowed. The concern is that at the end of the 18 months of super-low repayments buyers may emerge into a very different climate; interest rates could have increased by then leaving them with a hefty hike. Meridian’s Bill Whyte said the loans will be offered only to those passing a strong stress test and they work with borrowers to ensure they understand all the implications.
 
Surprise! New home prices increased in February
It wasn’t expected, but new home prices increased in February, according to data from Statistics Canada. After a 0.1 per cent decline in January the agency’s New Home Price Index rose 0.2 per cent, led by the combined metro of Toronto and Oshawa, which was up 0.3 per cent and was the largest contributor to the gain. The largest price increases were in the Halifax and Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo metros with gains of 0.4 per cent. There were also increases in Montreal (0.3 per cent) and Edmonton (0.2 per cent) in February. The largest declines in prices were in Regina and London (both fell 0.3 per cent); Quebec was down 0.2 per cent; and Hamilton, St. Catharines–Niagara and the combined region of Greater Sudbury and Thunder Bay were all down 0.1%. Prices in nine of the 21 areas surveyed were unchanged. Read the full story.
 
Saskatoon reports good year for affordability drive
City officials in Saskatoon have reported another good year for driving affordability of housing, but they also acknowledge there is still a lot more to do. Director of Planning and Development Alan Wallace said: "Adequate housing is an important part of the city's strategic plan adding to the quality of life for all residents." There was a target for 480 new affordable units last year, but the final total was 542; purpose-built rental units, affordable rental, entry-level ownership and secondary suites all beat their targets. However, there were only 40 affordable ownership units against a target of 100. Low and middle-income families are struggling most with affordability in Saskatoon with average home prices of $350,000 and rent for a two-bedroom apartment at around $1,000.
 
More people paying rent on credit cards
It may cause concern about the already-high levels of personal debt in Canada, but a Vancouver company reports that it’s signed up more than 5,000 people to its service that allows rent to be paid by credit card. RentMoola also allows debit cards to be used for free, but credit card users pay a fee of 2.75 per cent of the transaction value; 40 per cent of its customers choose credit card payments. Millennials make up the largest proportion of the company’s users. 
 

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