Home Buying Rules Tightened
Home Buying Rules are Tightened
The federal government recently announced new rules that are targeted at reducing risks in the housing market by limiting foreign money into real estate and ensuring that borrowers take on mortgages they can afford. Years of low interest rates and shifting attitudes towards debt and indebtedness have had an impact upon the housing market with house prices rising significantly in some markets. The measures outlined below are designed to reinforce the Canadian housing finance system, to protect the long term financial security of borrowers and to improve tax fairness for Canadian homeowners.
1. New qualifying terms for Insured Mortgages.
As of October 17, 2016 ALL insured mortgages will be required to undergo stringent stress testing by lenders. Lenders require a mortgage to be insured when the borrowers down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price or the appraised value of the home. Under the new rules, insured mortgages with a fixed term of 5 years or longer will be required to qualify at the 5 year benchmark rate of 4.64% even though their contract rate is significantly lower. This measure is aimed at ensuring that homeowners can meet their debt obligations should interest rates begin to rise. Up to now, only mortgages with variable interest rates or fixed interest rates with terms less than 5 years were required to meet this rule.
Homeowners with an existing insured mortgage or those renewing existing insured mortgages will not affected by this measure and individuals who have already applied for mortgage insurance are also exempt from the new rules.
This will have a significant impact on buyers. For example, a hypothetical borrower with an $80,000 annual income and a 5% down payment could qualify today for a house worth $500,000 at a 5 year fixed rate of 2.49%. But under the new rules, the same buyer could only qualify to buy a home worth $385,000. The lender will still be willing to offer the lower rate but they are tested as though the mortgage rate is twice as high as it really is.
2. New Qualifying Rules for Low Ratio Mortgages or Mortgages Backed by Portfolio Insurance
On November 30, 2016, new rules will also come into effect for mortgages with 20% or MORE down which are backed by government insurance and sold as Mortgage Backed Securities or through the Canadian Mortgage Bond. Mortgages that lenders now insure (at their cost) using portfolio insurance and other discretionary low loan-to-value ratio mortgage insurance, must meet the same criteria applicable to high-ratio insured mortgages. These measures which include refinances, renewals, amortizations over 25 years, rental or investment properties and mortgages over $1 million that can no longer be insured and securitized will severely affect our non-bank lenders and reduce and possibly remove any competiveness in the market as the big banks are not required to adopt these changes at this point. This will quite possibly drive up rates for consumers and cut competition in the lending sector. An existing mortgage holder who qualified in the past and is now facing mortgage renewal will be forced to renew with existing lender at the rate offered or move to a bank where competitiveness may no longer exist.
3. Improving Tax Fairness and Closing Loopholes
Proposed changes to the tax rules would ensure that the principal residence capital gains exemption is not abused. The federal government will be tightening the loop holes in the tax laws that allow non-residents to buy a home in Canada, and then get a tax exemption to avoid paying capital gains when they sell the home by claiming it as their principal residence. An individual who was not a resident in Canada in the year the individual acquired a residence will not be able to claim the exemption for that year.
BOC maintains overnight rate target at 1/2 per cent; projects moderate growth in Q2
The Bank of Canada 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.
Inflation is broadly in line with the Banks projection in its April Monetary Policy Report (MPR). Food prices continue to decline, mainly because of intense retail competition, pushing inflation temporarily lower. The Banks three measures of core inflation remain below two per cent and wage growth is still subdued, consistent with ongoing excess capacity in the economy. The global economy continues to gain traction and recent developments reinforce the Banks view that growth will gradually strengthen and broaden over the projection horizon. As anticipated, growth in the United States during the first quarter was weak, reflecting mostly temporary factors. Recent data point to a rebound in the second quarter. The uncertainties outlined in the April MPR continue to cloud the global and Canadian outlooks.
The Canadian economys adjustment to lower oil prices is largely complete and recent economic data have been encouraging, including indicators of business investment. Consumer spending and the housing sector continue to be robust on the back of an improving labour market, and these are becoming more broadly based across regions. Macroprudential and other policy measures, while contributing to more sustainable debt profiles, have yet to have a substantial cooling effect on housing markets. Meanwhile, export growth remains subdued, as anticipated in the April MPR, in the face of ongoing competitiveness challenges. The Banks monitoring of the economic data suggests that very strong growth in the first quarter will be followed by some moderation in the second quarter.
All things considered, Governing Council judges that the current degree of monetary stimulus is appropriate at present, and maintains the target for the overnight rate at 1/2 per cent.
Canadian home sales drop in April
According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales declined in April 2017.
National home sales fell 1.7% from March to April.
Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in April was down 7.5% from a year earlier.
The number of newly listed homes jumped 10% from March to April.
The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) was up 19.8% year-over-year (y-o-y) in April 2017.
The national average sale price rose 10.4% y-o-y in April.
Home sales over Canadian MLS Systems fell by 1.7% in April 2017 from the all-time record set in March. April sales were down from the previous month in close to two-thirds of all local markets, led by the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and offset by gains in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.
Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down 7.5% year-over-year, with declines in close to 70% of all local markets. Sales were down most in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, where activity continues to run well below last years record-levels. The GTA also factored in the decline, with faded activity compared to record levels set in April last year.
Sales in Vancouver are down from record levels in the first half of last year but the gap has started to close, CREA President Andrew Peck. Meanwhile, sales are up in Calgary and Edmonton from last years lows and trending higher in Ottawa and Montreal. All real estate is local, and REALTORS remain your best source for information about sales and listings where you live or might like to.
Homebuyers and sellers both reacted to the recent Ontario government policy announcement aimed at cooling housing markets in and around Toronto, said Gregory Klump, CREAs Chief Economist. The number of new listings in April spiked to record levels in the GTA, Oakville-Milton, Hamilton-Burlington and Kitchener-Waterloo, where there had been a severe supply shortage. And with only ten days to go between the announcement and the end of the month, sales in each of these markets were down from the previous month. It suggests these housing markets have started to cool. Policy makers will no doubt continue to keep a close eye on the combined effect of federal and provincial measures aimed at cooling housing markets of particular concern, while avoiding further regulatory changes that risk producing collateral damage in communities where the housing market is well balanced or already favours buyers.