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.
Unemployment rate unchanged in October
Following two consecutive months of growth, employment held steady in October. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.5%.
On a year-over-year basis, employment grew by 443,000 or 2.4%, driven by gains in full-time work. Over the same period, total hours worked were up 1.3%.
In October, employment increased in British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador, and was little changed in the other provinces.
Employment was down for men in the core working ages of 25 to 54, and grew for the population aged 55 and over.
Employment declined in manufacturing and construction. At the same time, employment was up in public administration and in finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing.
The number of self-employed workers decreased, while the number of employees in the public sector increased for the second consecutive month.
Canada: Household Credit Growth Continues To Climb in September
CANADIANS BORROWING HAND OVER FIST
Total Canadian household credit growth continued to accelerate in September, reaching a pace last seen in mid-2018. Despite a slight deceleration from the previous month to 4.3% at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate (m/m saar), trend growth remains at elevated levels. Both mortgage and consumer credit growth contributed to the 68 bps slowdown from the prior month (46 bps and 22 bps, respectively), but borrowing conditions remain favourable overall with trend growth still in strongly positive territory.
RESIDENTIAL MORTGAGE CREDIT EXPANSION CONTINUES ITS ASCENT
Residential mortgage credit growth continued on its upward trajectory in September supported by favourable borrowing conditions and strong labour markets. Mortgage loan growth accelerated by 4.9% m/m saar in September, pushing the year-on-year trend growth rate to 4.2% y/ythe fastest pace since mid-2018, marking a well-pronounced recovery in the mortgage-borrowing market.
Canadas real estate market looks to be rebounding following a turbulent couple of years due to various policy announcements from 2017 to 2018 designed to cool the market. Mortgage borrowing has picked up through the second half of 2019 with the uptick in demand following a reduction in the mortgage qualifying rate in July and a decline in 5-year mortgage rates. With the Bank of Canada under pressure to continue to provide a stimulative environment following sustained levels of uncertainty, residential mortgage credit growth is expected to remain supported in the foreseeable-future.
Strength in Canadian labour markets has also been conducive to a favourable borrowing environment. Septembers surge in job gains contributed to a fall in the unemployment rate to 5.5%.