Oliver's hands-off approach bad for the industry?

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Brokers often lamented former Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s willingness to tinker with mortgage rules and regulations but one industry professional believes current minister, Joe Oliver’s laissez-faire approach could have disastrous effects.

“The old finance minister never would’ve allowed mortgage rates to go down,” Sadiq Adatia, chief investment officer at Sun Life Global Investments said in an interview at Bloomberg’s office in Toronto Tuesday, according to Business New Network. “He would’ve stepped up to do his part. The new one is more hands-off, and that’s actually a mistake.”

Rates have been dropping across the industry with a number of lenders – including monolines, credit unions and big banks – advertising sub-three per cent mortgage rates.

Most recently, DUCA Credit Union joined the fracas with its very own 2.79 per cent five-year fixed rate which, according to the Financial Post, brokers have been buying down to 2.69 per cent.

But while the rate competition will most certainly benefit consumers as well as mortgage professionals, Adatia believes these record-low rates, if allowed to continue, could negatively impact the housing market in Canada.

"We need deleveraging to happen,” Adatia said. “You need rates to go up to slow down purchasing and for people to realize we’re in a rising interest rate environment. We’ll see a pullback in real estate of 10 to 15 percent, but if we see rates stay low, we could see an even harder landing next year.”

But is more government intervention the answer? Some brokers may just agree to disagree with Adatia.
 
 
  • Layth Matthews on 2014-06-12 12:50:08 PM

    While I appreciate Adatia's concern, I think it is naive to think that government can stick handle the marketplace into some kind of ever-smooth growth and employment. The restrictions on refinance LTV and maximum amortization already in place are making a huge positive impact. Also the requirement to use 3% as a minimum payment on revolving credit in the ratios is brilliant. Now if they would just restrict consumer credit! As it is now, these low payment credit lines are just a modern form of slavery. But I digress.

    What we need government to do now is provide models and education for sustainable lifestyles, not try to predict house prices and enforce interest rates.

    Materialism, it turns out, is actually a huge obstacle to many things, including material wealth.

  • Ron Butler on 2014-06-12 1:06:45 PM

    Layth maks some good points.

    I do suggest we all consider this: when Canada leads the whole industrialized world for having the least affordable housing perhaps we should think about some further policy changes.

    I am not talking about raising interest rates, that hurts people who are just renewing mortgages on a house they bought 15 years ago which is silly.

    I am thinking there must be some way to slow down property price increases that are 3 or 4 times annual inflation. I can't think of any great methods myself but maybe smarter people than me can come up with a few.

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