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CMHC cutting back on what it covers with mortgage default insurance
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., the Crown corporation that controls the vast majority of mortgage default insurance in the country, says it plans to get out of the market for second homes and is adding restrictions for self-employed Canadians.
Effective May 30, CMHC said it will discontinue insuring second homes and will require self-employed Canadians to have third party income income validation.
The Crown corporation said the changes are being made as part of its review of its mortgage loan business. The organization has already said it is raising rates across the board May 1, a move that comes after the federal government last year appointed a new chair for CMHC and brought in a new chief executive.
CMHC helps Canadians meet their housing needs and contributes to the stability of the housing market and finance system said Steven Mennill, senior vice-president, insurance, in a release. As part of the review of its mortgage loan insurance business, CMHC is evaluating its products and services to ensure they are aligned with these objectives.
The agency said its the first set of changes resulting from the review of its operation. TheFinancial Postreported this month that Evan Siddall, a former investment banker brought in as CEO, has been asked about the possibility of a risk-based method of assessing mortgage default insurance. Sources say the new CEO has told people he doesnt disagree with the principal of risk-based insurance.
The changes announced Friday affect a small portion of the market. CMHC said its second home and self-employed without third party income validation business account for less than 3% of CMHCs insured business volumes in units.
Given the limited use of these products, their discontinuation is not expected to have a material impact on the housing market, the agency said in a release.
CMHC first introduced the program for self employed people in 2007 in response to industry competition which at its peak saw some U.S. players enter the market and encourage changes that created amortization lengths as long as 40 years. The government has since restricted loans to 25-year amortizations.
The second home product was introduced in 2005 and applied when purchasing an owner-occupied second home anywhere in Canada.
CMHC said it will limit the availability of homeowner mortgage loan insurance to only one property (one to four units) per borrower/co-borrower at any given time.
Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist with CIBC, said the announcement was not a big surprise given the mandate of providing more stability. That might not be the end of it. We might see more coming from CMHC.
Finn Poschmann, vice-president of research at the C.D. Howe Institute, said the requirement for validation seems reasonable.
What is interesting is the question of whether the change will tend to shift risk away from CMHC and toward the private insurers. Whether that is the outcome will be determined by the private insurers responses, he said, in an email.
Bank of Canada rate announcement
The Bank of Canada today announced that it is maintaining its target for the overnight rate at 1/2 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 3/4 per cent and the deposit rate is 1/4 per cent.
Global growth in the first half of 2016 was slower than the Bank had projected in its JulyMonetary Policy Report(MPR), although the Bank continues to expect it to strengthen gradually in the second half of this year.
The US economy was weaker than expected in the second quarter, notably reflecting a contraction in business and residential investment. While a healthy labour market and solid consumption should remain supportive of growth in the rest of the year, the outlook for business investment has become less certain.
While Canadas economy shrank in the second quarter, the Bank still projects a substantial rebound in the second half of this year.
Second-quarter GDP was pulled down by the Alberta wildfires in May and by a drop in exports that was larger and more broad-based than expected. Exports disappointed even after accounting for weaker business and residential investment in the United States, adjustments in the resource sector, and cutbacks in auto production.
The economy is expected to rebound in the third quarter as oil production recovers, rebuilding commences in Alberta, and consumer spending gets an additional lift from Canada Child Benefit payments. As federal infrastructure spending starts to have more impact, growth in the fourth quarter is projected to remain above potential.
Inflation is roughly in line with the Banks expectations. Total CPI inflation is below the 2 per cent target, mainly because of the temporary effects of lower consumer energy prices. Measures of core inflation remain around 2 per cent, reflecting offsetting effects of excess capacity and past exchange rate depreciation.
On balance, risks to the profile for inflation have tilted somewhat to the downside since July. At the same time, while there are preliminary signs of a possible moderation in the Vancouver housing market, financial vulnerabilities associated with household imbalances remain elevated and continue to rise.
CREA releases latest sales figures: home sales decline while prices rise
According to statistics released this week by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales declined for a third consecutive month in July 2016.
National home sales fell 1.3% from June to July.
Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity came in 2.9% below July 2015.
The number of newly listed homes rose 1.2% from June to July.
The MLSHome Price Index (HPI) rose 14.3% year-over-year in July.
The national average sale price climbed 9.9% in July from one year ago; net of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Greater Vancouver, it advanced 7% year-over-year.
While national home sales fell 1.3% month-over-month in July, the average price jumped 14.3% year-over-year last month. Newly listed homes, meanwhile, increased 1.2% month-over-month.
Sales activity was down from the previous month in slightly more than half of all markets in July, led by Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. Transactions in these two markets peaked in February of this year, and have since then dropped by 21.5 and 28.8 percent respectively. Accordingly, much of the national sales decline in recent months reflects slowing activity in B.C.s Lower Mainland.
National sales and price trends continue to be heavily influenced by a handful of places in Ontario and British Columbia and mask significant variations in local housing market trends and conditions across Canada, said CREA President Cliff Iverson.
Home sales continued to trend lower while price gains further accelerated in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, said Gregory Klump, CREAs Chief Economist. This suggests that sales are being reined in by a lack of inventory and a further deterioration in affordability. The new 15 per cent property transfer tax on Metro Vancouver home purchases by foreign buyers took effect on August 2nd, so it will take some time before the effect of the new tax on sales and prices can be observed. That said, the new tax will do little in the short term to increase the supply of homes.
With sales down and new listings up, the national sales-to-new listings ratio eased to 61.6 percent in July 2016 its second monthly decline following its peak of 65.3 percent in May. A sales-to-new listings ratio between 40 and 60 percent is generally consistent with balanced housing market conditions, with readings below and above this range indicating buyers and sellers markets respectively.
The national average price continues to be pulled upward by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which remain two of Canadas tightest, most active and expensive housing markets. The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in July 2016 was $480,743, up 9.9 percent y-o-y.
If these two housing markets are excluded from calculations, the average price is a more modest $365,033 and the gain is trimmed to 7.0 percent y-o-y.