Brokers in little Prince George say they’re poised to significantly better originations this year even as their big-city counterparts in Vancouver enter a slowdown and the CMHC forecasts an 8 per cent sales slide for the northern hub.
“It's a strong housing market we’re facing here,” Curtis Cannon, a sub-mortgage broker with TMG The Mortgage Group told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “We're seeing growth in lumber, coal mining, mills, CN is hiring more and more, and industry is coming in, bring more jobs, migrants and a more active housing market.”
The observations were echoed by two other veterans of Northern B.C.’s biggest market as they grapple with the kind of active spring season Vancouver and Victoria brokers are struggling to find.
But the grow in originations, what some brokers are pegging at more than 10 per cent, year over year, runs counter to CMHC projections for the area.
In its first quarter report, the crown corporation is forecasting the number of MLS sales will drop to 950 this year, an 8.1 per cent drop from 2010. It’s also pegging 2012 sales as plunging an additional 5.3 percent by year’s end.
The projections simply don’t jive with the on-the-ground experience of brokers working in Prince George and the surrounding 600 square kilometers that make up the northern hub.
“They’re just off,” Bob Quinlan, a broker with Mortgage Alliance Prince George told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “We have a lot of stimulus from what’s happening in the mining section, the development of a power transmission line to the northwest and construction associated with transportation projects. Another, thing is that consumer awareness about the expertise of brokers is growing, and CMHC projections may fail to capture that reality for brokers.”
Relying on MLS data, the projections also fail to reflect the large number of private transactions.
But that relatively open playing field in terms of broker-to-broker competition stands in greatest contrast to Vancouver, where broker numbers are some of the highest in Canada and where originations have slowed compared to last year’s phenomenal showing. Mortgage rule changes making it harder for residents to qualify for home loans have also played a role in culling housing demand. The situation has renewed emphasis on refi work, a way of compensating for increasingly fierce competition for a dwindling number of home-grown originations.
“We’re doing a little bit better than Vancouver brokers,” said Quinlan.