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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.
PROMISES, PROMISES AND MORE PROMISES
Canadas Parliament re-convened today with a ceremonial Speech from the Throne delivered by the Governor General.
Canadas continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic took centre-stage, while providing a lens for a plethora of broader promises: an extension of the wage subsidy, expanded employment insurance, investments in childcare, reaffirmed commitments to universal pharmacare, and green infrastructure investments among many others.
Given the exhaustive list of priorities, this Speech is unlikely to bring the minority government down as it provides plenty of hooks for negotiations in the lead-up to a Fall update where details will be laid out.
It clearly signals more fiscal spending ahead for Canada leaving the question not if but how much. But this was largely channeled ahead, so the market reaction has been mutedor more likely, it is eclipsed by broader US and global developments.
There is little beyond lip service by way of fiscal restraint. This will be left to the Finance Minister to make inevitable trade-offs in her first budget this Fall, particularly as she may need to reserve some firepower for second waves.
Source: Scotiabank https://www.scotiabank.com/ca/en/about/economics/economics-publications/post.other-publications.fiscal-policy.fiscal-pulse.federal.federal-budget-analysis.federal-throne-speech--september-23--2020-.html
Home affordability improved in Q2 2020
Housing affordability in Canadas large urban centres improved in the second quarter of 2020 after having deteriorated in the two prior quarters. Higher incomes helped in Q2 but the largest portion of the improvement came in the form of lower interest rates. Indeed, the latter declined 19 basis points in the quarter, reflecting the easing from the central bank. Combined, income and mortgage rates were more than enough to offset the increase in home prices. Still, the decline in interest rates on a quarterly average basis does not completely reflect the change in 5-year mortgage rates since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The February to June decline in mortgage interest rates was a much more significant 41 basis points. Looking ahead, the preliminary data for rates shows additional improvements in the third quarter of the year (cumulatively they are down over 70 bps). While we expect this to help affordability, home prices should remain resilient based on the latest resale market data showing record sales volumes. Homebuyers have rushed back to the market after having delayed purchases and are now being offered record-low interest rates. Once pent-up demand is exhausted, the Canadian housing market will still have to face high levels of unemployment and reduced household formation due to lower immigration.