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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.
Among Canadians who are not yet back in their regular workplace, close to 4 in 10 do not feel safe returning
Months after COVID-19 began to spread in Canada, a large number of Canadian workers continue to work from home or are simply absent from their physical workplace. The survey asked these people whether they felt safe returning to work.
At the time of survey collection in June, close to 4 in 10 Canadian workers who were not in their regular workplace (38%) reported that they did not feel safe returning to work. The most commonly-reported reasons for not feeling safe were fear of contracting the virus and fear of infecting family members. About 30% said that they felt safe returning to their physical workplace, and another 32% said that they did not know or chose not to answer the question.
National Bank of Canada Weekly Economic Watch
Housing starts rose from 166.5K in April to 193.5K in May (seasonally adjusted and annualized). Urban starts improved 22K to 181.1K on increases in both the multi-unit (+14.9K to 135.9K) and the single-detached (+7.1K to 45.3K) segments. At the provincial level, urban starts shot up in Quebec from 0K in April to 56.3K as social distancing measures were eased but plunged 37.1K to 56.5K in Ontario. June results should provide a clearer snapshot of the post-lockdown residential construction industry in Canada. Projects delayed on account of the Covid-19 pandemic might sustain starts at a relatively high level for a short while but the longer-term horizon looks less promising in light of much higher joblessness and reduced immigration. Moreover, tougher CMHC standards for mortgage insurance will likely exclude some potential buyers by shrinking their purchasing power. We estimate that the new rules governing maximum gross debt service will reduce by about 11% the amount that the median Canadian household will be allowed to borrow.
Source: NBA Economics and Strategy