In the last few months, we’ve had a lot of renewed interest in Sarilia from people looking to simplify their lives. They’re looking for a connection with nature and a strong community spirit. They’re seeking more space, cleaner air, less noise and less stress. The river view and water access are the icing on the cake.
We’re also fielding questions about whether now is a good time to build a new home. It turns out, lots of people are still buying and building their dream homes in and around Saskatoon. We recently chatted with Myles Li, a personal banker at Affinity Credit Union’s Langham advice centre, to get a sense of what’s going on in the real estate market locally, and if now is a good time to get a new mortgage.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I’m a personal banker at Affinity Credit Union. I’ve been with Affinity Credit Union since 2016. I really enjoy reading and watching movies. I was born in China and immigrated to Canada in 2012 and I completed my bachelor’s degree in finance in 2015. I live with my wife and my 1.5-year-old son in Saskatoon.
What makes Affinity different from the big national banks?
Affinity is different from big banks because we’re a Saskatchewan-born co-operative financial institution owned by our members, for our members. We only operate in Saskatchewan, so you can be sure our advisors understand your local needs.
We believe people come before profits and are dedicated to looking out for your financial health by offering great products, competitive rates and genuine, professional advice.
Affinity exists because of and for our members. That’s why we’re committed to giving back to the communities we serve. We do this in a lot of different ways including sponsorships, donations and community funding. We see our involvement as more than just writing a cheque—it’s a partnership.
What is happening lately in banking when it comes to new mortgages? Is it a good time to buy a new home or property?
At this point, the housing market appears to be holding up quite well in Saskatchewan. Affinity is seeing a significant number of mortgage applications, including construction, in the local market at the present time. Mortgage rates are currently low, which makes it a very good time to consider purchasing a home, whether that’s buying an existing property or building new. Affinity Credit Union is very familiar with construction financing, including ready-to-move homes (RTMs), and we have the expertise to help make the entire process easy and uncomplicated.
What else are you seeing in the real estate market? Any trends?
We’ve seen an increase in numbers of home equity loan applications recently. I believe two main reasons are:
- People have been spending more time at home because of COVID-19, and are finding that they’d like to make some upgrades to better enjoy their home time going forward; and
- Mortgage interest rates are low. We’ve seen more home equity loans to consolidate other high interest rate debts as well, which can be a great strategy to pay down high interest debt and improve household cashflow. COVID-19 has impacted many people’s incomes and made it challenging for them to keep up with payments.
Are there any common themes or conversations you’re having with clients?
I talk with members a lot on how to save for retirement or down payments for purchasing a home, also about downsizing debts to build up net worth, etc.
I know Affinity is dedicated to supporting local charities—which charities does your advice centre currently support and how?
It’s about working together to make a difference and finding ways to improve life in our communities. For example, we recently provided $30,000 in funding to the Food Banks of Saskatchewan because we understand the growing and demanding need for them in our communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We also contributed $20,000 to the Royal University Hospital Foundation’s COVID-19 Hospital Fund to help provide the resources its dedicated medical and support teams need to respond to COVID-19 now and into the future.
Aside from that, we’re involved in our communities’ local assets, such as rinks and centres, sports teams, as well as community events and organizations from literacy programs to environmental sustainability and more.