Toronto real estate board calls on Ottawa to revisit mortgage stress test

TORONTO — Canada’s largest real estate board is calling on Ottawa to revisit whether a stricter mortgage stress test introduced last year is still needed, arguing that the policy has negatively impacted the economy and Toronto’s once red-hot housing market.“While we saw buyers return to the market in the second half of 2018, we have to have an honest discussion on whether or not today’s homebuyers are being stress tested against rates that are realistic,” said John DiMichele, chief executive of the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) in a statement Wednesday.“Home sales in the GTA, and Canada more broadly, play a huge role in economic growth, job creation and government revenues every year. Looking through this lens, policymakers need to be aware of unintended consequences the stress test could have on the housing market and broader economy.” Mortgage growth, the bread and butter of Canadian banks, has shrunk to 17-year low OSFI under pressure by banks, industry lobbyists to ease mortgage stress test: sources Why the government should rethink the mortgage stress test Stress tests were introduced in 2018 to cool real estate markets such as Toronto and Vancouver, and have limited the ability for some to qualify for mortgages.TREB, which represents more than 52,000 real estate agents across the region, says potential homebuyers who moved to the sidelines when the mortgage stress test came into effect will likely re-evaluate their financial qualifications and try to enter the market this year.It notes that the stress test, which is mandated through the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OFSI) has resulted in homebuyers having to qualify for monthly mortgage payments nearly $700 more than what they would actually pay.“In order to account for the higher qualification standard, intending home buyers have adjusted their preferences, including the type of home they intend on purchasing,” said the report, resulting in the increased popularity of condos and townhouses over detached homes.Despite these challenges, the board forecasts in its annual outlook that it expects to see a “moderate improvement” in sales and selling price this year in Toronto’s real estate market but says it doesn’t anticipate to hit the record levels seen in previous years.The board says increased buying intentions will be helped by population growth, low unemployment rates and lower fixed-rate mortgage rates this year.The outlook forecasts that 83,000 sales will be reported through the board’s Multiple Listing Service (MLS) system in 2019, up 7.2 per cent from 77,375 sales recorded in 2018.TREB expects the average selling price for the year in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area will increase to $820,000 — close to the peak reached in 2017 — and up from an average of $787,195 in 2018.Much of that price growth will be led by the hot condominium market as homebuyers look for more affordable housing options, while the board anticipates the price growth for detached properties to be below the average growth rate for the total market.Meanwhile, the board expects new listings will remain flat this year after the figure pulled back in 2018 to sit between 155,000 and 156,000.The report also cautions that the rental market in Toronto and the surrounding area will remain “tight” this year.“The supply of rental units could continue to be problematic in 2019,” it warned.The board also reported Wednesday that home sales in Toronto and the surrounding area saw a small uptick in January, a sign that the real estate market in Canada’s largest city remains stable.In a separate report, TREB says there were 4,009 home sales recorded in January, up 0.6 per cent compared with January 2018. On a seasonally adjusted basis, sales were up by 3.4 per cent versus December 2018.The board says the average selling price for all property types was $748,328 last month, an increase of 1.7 per cent from the same month a year ago. TREB reports that the more affordable condo segment led the price growth, up by 7.9 per cent in January.Semi-detached and townhouse properties also saw increases, while the price of detached homes fell by 2.8 per cent in January year-over-year.The board says the total number of new listings were up, climbing 10.5 per cent to 9,456 listings last month. read more

5 Ohio State wrestlers advance into quarterfinals of NCAA championships

OSU sophomore Kyle Snyder gets his hand raised during a meet against Nebraska at St. John Arena on Jan. 17. OSU won 21-17. Credit: Muyao Shen | Asst. Photo EditorNEW YORK CITY — It was a rowdy and loud environment in Madison Square Garden as the NCAA wrestling national championships got underway. Ohio State began its title defense by winning six of its first eight matches and advancing five competitors into the quarterfinals.The Buckeyes are sitting well in second place as a team at the end of Day 1.OSU started things off with a defending individual national champion in redshirt sophomore Nathan Tomasello. Tomasello picked up a technical fall over Kyle Larson of Iowa State.In his next matchup, the Parma, Ohio, native drew an opponent he faced earlier this season in Elijah Oliver of Indiana. Much like before, Tomasello dominated the match after a slow start, and the 125-pound champion from last year moved on to the next round.Redshirt senior Johnni DiJulius attacked early against Robert Deutsch of Rider. A fall with just under a minute left in the first period got the Scarlet and Gray fans on their feet.DiJulius did not produce the same kind success in the next round, though. The underdog against Eric Montoya of Nebraska, the redshirt senior fought hard but dropped a 2-0 decision and moved to Friday’s consolation round.Both redshirt freshman Micah Jordan and redshirt sophomore Bo Jordan pinned their first opponents. The brothers kept things the same in the next round, as both Jordans won by way of decision.“I didn’t quite finish the way I wanted to wrestling-wise, so that’s something to take into my next match,” Bo Jordan said after his first bout. “But it was a good first match and I had some fun, so looking forward to the next round.”Freshman Myles Martin earned a major decision in the first round before picking up a second-round upset. His win over Cody Walters of Ohio put him in the quarterfinals in his first NCAA tournament.To finish out a dominant morning, sophomore Kyle Snyder did something he had never done before at the college level: win by fall.Snyder earned an early pin in the second over Antonio Pelusi of Franklin and Marshall. He did not slow down, picking up a 26-10 technical fall in the next round, which was his sixth match of 20 or more points on the year.Two Buckeyes were eliminated from contention on the first day, as redshirt freshman Jake Ryan and redshirt senior Kenny Courts lost in the consolation rounds.Action is scheduled to continue on Friday, beginning at 9 a.m.Correction: An earlier version of this story said Friday’s action marks the semifinals of the championships, when in fact it is the quarterfinals. read more