In response to several of the comments on the previous thread I'm posting some thoughts on what to do with your downpayment if you are patiently waiting for housing prices to have some kind of resemblance to fundamental valuation before you purchase. Here are the essential steps in my humble opinion:
Step 1: Determine your time horizon - this is easier said than done.
Step 2: Determine your risk tolerance - is some level of value fluctuation acceptable and if so, how much? +/-5% in one year? +/-10%? more?
1) If your time horizon is uncertain and you need stability and flexibility then a money market fund, savings account or short term GIC offers your only real options. Your rate of return will be significantly hindered. The best rate on these short term deposits is approximately 3% right now.
2) If you are confident that you won't see fundamental value for at least one year then you can clearly lock in for a 'good' rate on a GIC for at least one year. This has the advantage of keeping you disciplined but is much less flexible in terms of access to your money. The best rate on a 1 year GIC today was 3.90%. A 2 year GIC was 4.15%.
3) If you don't mind some mild fluctuation in your investments then a low cost bond fund such as the TD eSeries bond index fund could provide you with a decent coupon yield plus some potential upside if you think interest rates are going to fall before you purchase. If you have enough money some higher yielding corporate bonds can be purchased through a brokerage account. A quick search turns up several decent short term bonds with yields over 4%. Bonds have the advantage of being liquid so if you need access to the funds you will likely be able to get your money.
4) Equities - whether we are discussing an exchange traded fund, mutual fund, or an individual stock, be prepared for volatility. Even if you think you are investing in so-called safe securities, don't be fooled, a stock is a stock and the price of that stock is dependent on the perceived value of the corporation's earnings as seen by the buyers on that day. Your values may fluctuate violently and when it comes time to pull your money out, you may have less than you counted on. For a simple lesson on volatility, please look at the standard deviation of an investment before you purchase it. Bond funds have a low standard deviation because they are less volatile than equity funds.
I am not recommending one of these options over any other option but I hope the explanation is helpful. I don't recommend any allocation to equities higher than 30% for any time horizon shorter than 3 years and I don't recommend any allocation to equities higher than 45% for time periods shorter than 5 years.