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I wrote in an opinion piece last April that the housing boom is ripping apart the financial fabric of Canadian life. The average national resale price of a home was about $696,000 that month, compared to $816,720 in February, 2022.

The 17 per cent price increase over the past 10 months was on my mind this week as I looked at what’s happening in the bond market. The interest rate on five-year bonds issued by the federal government to finance its operations has absolutely soared in recent days. Why you should care: five-year bond yields have a big influence on mortgage rates.

Pressure is building in the financial system for higher mortgage rates, which will make houses less affordable. I’m starting to see economists speculate on whether the growth in house prices we’ve become used to will slow or stop altogether. Maybe prices might even fall.

A lot of frustrated first-time home buyers have been waiting for a price decline and it’s possible they may get one. But will it be a difference-maker for affordability?

Here’s a quote from my story from last April: “Young adults increasingly feel shut out of home ownership in big cities, even as their parents can’t stop talking about how much money they’ve made as owners. An exodus of buyers to smaller communities is pricing out local residents. People who can afford to buy are forced to make rushed, high-stress decisions about the biggest financial transactions in their lives, and then to take on debt loads that could limit their ability to save for retirement and deliver the spending the economy needs to recover from the pandemic. A whole new parental financial burden has been invented: making sure your adult kids get into the housing market.”

Prices would have to fall 15 per cent to get back to the world described just above, which would be an extreme move for the Canadian market. Yet affordability was already stressed back then.

And then there’s the impact of higher borrowing costs on affordability. Buying a house with lower prices and higher rates might save you a couple of hundred dollars at best compared to buying in today’s market of high prices and still-low rates.

It’s too early to say for sure, but housing affordability in Canada may have permanently pulled out of reach for a lot of young people. Stay tuned for a column on what that might mean to the country.


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Rob’s personal finance reading list

A ‘Say No’ list for people buying a vehicle

After you negotiate a deal to buy a new vehicle, you should expect the dealer to pitch on you all kinds of add-on accessories. Here’s a list of things to take a pass on, including several different types of “protection.”

Canadians not big on coupons

A look at why the use of coupons hasn’t budged much in the last year or so, even as grocery prices soar.

What’s your Return on Life?

I’m always on the hunt for fresh takes on retirement planning. Here’s something that qualifies: the concept of Return on Life, or getting the best possible life for the money you have. A twist on the money-focused concept of return in investment, or ROI.

The incredible versatility of Scotch tape

Other than wrapping presents, what good is Scotch tape? Here’s a surprisingly long list of ways to use tape, including cleaning your laptop keyboard and flower arranging.


Q&A

Q: Long story, but we are in a situation where we have no savings/registered education savings plan stashed away for our daughter’s university education. She won’t qualify for OSAP (the Ontario Student Assistance Program), so what is the best bet for financing given the unpalatable choices?

A: Might your daughter qualify for a scholarship or bursary? If not, consider a student line of credit from a bank. Note that students must pay interest on a credit line while in school, but principal repayment can wait until after graduation. Any other ideas for this family? Let me know at rcarrick@globeandmail.com.


Today’s financial tool

Will Power is an organization created to promote the idea of leaving money to charity in your will. Here’s a calculator they created to explore how much you could leave to your loved ones, and to charity.


The Money-Free Zone

I read every word of this Globe opinion piece about writing an obituary for a long-deceased brother. Beautifully written.


Tweet of the week

As bad as inflation is, the real financial killer in 2022 is going to be all of those weddings and events that got delayed the past two years that will happen this year.


What I’ve been writing about

More Rob Carrick and money coverage

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