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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.
Almost no annual growth for national HPI
The national HPI has grown at a below-inflation rate of 0.5% over the last 12 months, the smallest gain since November 2009. Moreover, the fact that monthly gains are reported for May and June does not mean that the market recently turned the corner. These two months typically register the strongest growth rates in a year. Indeed, the two latest rises were among the weakest in history for months of May and June. If seasonally adjusted, the national HPI would been down in both months this year. However, the weakness is not regionally broad-based. The national HPI was dragged down by 12-month home price declines in Western Canada metropolitan areas (Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg) and a tiny increase in Victoria. In Central Canada and in the East, home price growth ranges from decent to strong (left chart). This is consistent with the state of home resale markets. For example, the Vancouver market turned favorable to buyers at the end of last year, while the Toronto market remained balanced and Montreal’s market has never been this tight since 2005. That being said, a rebound in home sales recently occurred in Canada which was also felt in the largest Western metropolitan areas. This should help limit home-price deflation in these areas.
The Teranet–National Bank Composite National House Price Index increased 0.8% in June, a second gain in a row after an eight-month string without a rise.
On a monthly basis, the index rose in 8 of the 11 markets covered: Winnipeg (0.1%), Quebec City (0.3%), Montreal (0.8%), Toronto (1.3%), Halifax (1.5%), Hamilton (+1.6%), Victoria (+2.1%) and Ottawa-Gatineau (+2.2%). The index was down in Calgary (-0.1%) and Vancouver (-0.3%), and flat in Edmonton.
From June 2018 to June 2019, the Composite index rose 0.5%, the smallest 12-month gain in ten years. The HPI declined in Vancouver (-4.9%), Calgary (-3.8%), Edmonton (-2.6%) and Winnipeg (-0.4%). It was up in Victoria (0.3%), Quebec City (1.5%), Halifax (2.7%), Toronto (2.8%), Hamilton (4.8%), Montreal (5.4%) and Ottawa-Gatineau (6.3%).
Source: National Bank Financial Markets; Marc Pinsonneault
NORTHERN STAR (FOR NOW...)
In contrast to the US, Canadian growth is accelerating sharply going into the second quarter, following a solid gain in domestic demand to start the year.
Fast, and accelerating, population growth, and remarkably strong employment growth are providing a solid underpinning to consumer spending and the housing market.
Positive export data suggest that the ongoing strength in domestic demand will be buttressed by net exports in the second quarter, and possibly beyond.
Canadian inflation is at the Bank of Canadas target, in sharp contrast to the US, where it has moved away from the Feds objective. This gives the BoC room to keep rates on hold if inflation remains on target.
Downside risks remain important and are all linked to US-centric developments, with worries about US trade policy ongoing despite the pause with China.
Recent Canadian developments stand in sharp contrast to events in much of the rest of the world. Whereas US growth is clearly decelerating, Canadian growth is on an upswing, with recent indicators pointing to a very sharp rebound from a somewhat sluggish start to the year. Canadians appear to be, for the time being, largely insulated from the broader malaise facing the global economy as consumer and business confidence has improved sharply in recent quarters, owing to strong sales and job creation. While there are a number of factors suggesting that the growth rebound observed will persist through 2020, there is a risk that a divergence between Canadian and US outcomes may not last.
Source: Scotiabank Economics