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.
Most First-Time Homebuyers Spending All They Can Afford
Millennials have made up a significant portion of homebuyers in recent years and based on the 2018 Mortgage Consumer Survey, they continue to do so, representing just under half (49%) of first-time buyer respondents. Although this is a decrease from 60% in 2017 and 58% in 2016, Millennials continue to influence and shape the homebuying and mortgage process.
Heres more of what we learned about Millennials and first-time buyers as a whole, powered by the 2018 Mortgage Consumer Survey.
What does the typical first-time buyer profile look like? Forty percent are married, 80% are employed full-time and about one-quarter (26%) have a household income between $60,000 and $90,000. A strong percentage of them were born outside of Canada, with 22% identifying as newcomers to Canada. Mortgage professionals can help meet the unique needs of newcomers with the support of CMHCs homebuying information which is available in 8 different languages.
The top 2 reasons first-time buyers bought a home: they wanted to get a first home and they felt financially ready. Although certain urban markets continue to exhibit high house prices and other barriers to entry, the survey found that 61% of first-time buyers bought a single-detached home. In fact, single-detached home was the top housing type purchased in all regions across Canada, except in British Columbia where condominium apartment was the most popular housing type.
The vast majority (85%) of first-time buyers spent the most they could afford on their home, compared to 68% of repeat buyers. This indicates that first-time buyers, including Millennials, may be stretching themselves financially to purchase their home. When it comes to the down payment, savings from outside an RRSP was the main source for first-time buyers. This suggest there is an opportunity to further educate first-time buyers about other options to help fund their down payment, such as the Government of Canadas Home Buyers Plan (HBP).
To get assistance with the mortgage process, first-time buyers contacted, on average, 2 brokers and 3 lenders. First-time buyer satisfaction levels with mortgage brokers and lenders remains high. However, mortgage professionals could further increase satisfaction levels by conducting more post-transaction follow-up and by providing clients with more information on closing costs, house purchase fees, interest rates, and steps involved in buying a home. CMHCs Step by Step guide is a valuable tool for mortgage professionals to share with homebuyers to ensure they feel confident throughout the entire homebuying process.
Bank of Canada increases overnight rate target to 1 ¾ per cent
The Bank of Canada today increased its target for the overnight rate to 1 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 2 per cent and the deposit rate is 1 per cent.
The global economic outlook remains solid. The US economy is especially robust and is expected to moderate over the projection horizon, as forecast in the Banks July Monetary Policy Report (MPR). The new US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will reduce trade policy uncertainty in North America, which has been an important curb on business confidence and investment. However, trade conflict, particularly between the United States and China, is weighing on global growth and commodity prices. Financial market volatility has resurfaced and some emerging markets are under stress but, overall, global financial conditions remain accommodative.
The Canadian economy continues to operate close to its potential and the composition of growth is more balanced. Despite some quarterly fluctuations, growth is expected to average about 2 per cent over the second half of 2018. Real GDP is projected to grow by 2.1 per cent this year and next before slowing to 1.9 per cent in 2020.
The projections for business investment and exports have been revised up, reflecting the USMCA and the recently-approved liquid natural gas project in British Columbia. Still, investment and exports will be dampened by the recent decline in commodity prices, as well as ongoing competitiveness challenges and limited transportation capacity. The Bank will be monitoring the extent to which the USMCA leads to more confidence and business investment in Canada.
Household spending is expected to continue growing at a healthy pace, underpinned by solid employment income growth. Households are adjusting their spending as expected in response to higher interest rates and housing market policies. In this context, household credit growth continues to moderate and housing activity across Canada is stabilizing. As a result, household vulnerabilities are edging lower in a number of respects, although they remain elevated.
CPI inflation dropped to 2.2 per cent in September, in large part because the summer spike in airfares was reversed. Other temporary factors pushing up inflation, such as past increases in gasoline prices and minimum wages, should fade in early 2019. Inflation is then expected to remain close to the 2 per cent target through the end of 2020. The Banks core measures of inflation all remain around 2 per cent, consistent with an economy that is operating at capacity. Wage growth remains moderate, although it is projected to pick up in the coming quarters, consistent with the Banks latest Business Outlook Survey.
Given all of these factors, Governing Council agrees that the policy interest rate will need to rise to a neutral stance to achieve the inflation target. In determining the appropriate pace of rate increases, Governing Council will continue to take into account how the economy is adjusting to higher interest rates, given the elevated level of household debt. In addition, we will pay close attention to global trade policy developments and their implications for the inflation outlook.