RateHub Roundup: July 2015
Creativity ruled this month, with Canadians innovating new ways to spend their money on point-of-sale purchases, new ways to redeem their credit card reward points, and new ways to spend even more money on houses. Here’s what made the news in June:
Where will it peak? House prices in Canada’s most populous city continue to hit record highs, with detached homes selling for 18.2% more than they did just one year ago. In a market buoyed by low mortgage rates and a limited supply of detached houses, affordability seems to be slipping away quickly.
The situation is worse in Vancouver where the average price for detached homes hit $2.23 Million, intensifying debate over who’s to blame for high prices and causing tension between the city and provincial governments. It’s not all bad news, however, as the average price for all homes in Vancouver and Toronto has yet to hit the million dollar mark, having reached $905,000 and $650,000 respectively in May.
Meanwhile Calgary’s home prices have dropped, showing the effects of a weakened oil industry.
OSAP, Ontario’s government-backed student loans program, announced this month that students can now pay back their loans with Aeroplan miles. Don’t get too excited though; you’ll need to spend 35,000 miles to pay back $250 worth of debt. Using the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card for example, you would need to spend about $2,250 a month for a year – $27,000 total – to collect enough miles. And since a flight from Toronto to New York costs only 15,000 Aeroplan miles, your miles will take you further (literally and figuratively) if you use them to book a flight instead.
While most of us who recently visited Ottawa were only in it for the fireworks, the Canadian Home Builders’ Association lit a different fuse when it asked the government to change the rules for first-time homebuyers. Longer maximum amortization periods, lower taxes on housing development, and a tax credit for home renovations were on their list of requests. While all of these would make it more affordable for first-time homebuyers to purchase new construction housing, we’re not sure there’s a need right now. More than 30% of the new condo units completed in Toronto this May sat empty.
The way you pay for every day purchases is changing again. Services that let you pay with your phone are already making gains in the US – Apple Pay and Google Wallet are competing on that particular front in their war for total share of your pockets (Google-owned Nest works with a smart deadbolt that lets you to unlock your front door with your phone and leave your keys at home, but that’s a nerd alert for another day).
In Canada, the big 3 mobile carriers have teamed up on the Suretap Wallet. This month CIBC was the first major bank to announce its Visa and Mastercard credit cards, such as the CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite, will be compatible with the service. The media has praised CIBC for its commitment to innovation, but TD, RBC, and Scotiabank already have their own apps with similar functionality, and BMO offers an offline alternative that works by attaching a sticker to your phone. What remains to be seen is whether Rogers, Bell and Telus will continue allowing the other banks to compete, or strong-arm them into using their proprietary system.
Our founder Alyssa Furtado was recently interviewed by ICA School as part of their Expert Interview program. Click here to read the interview and get Alyssa’s advice on how to save on closing costs.