Tag Archives: arrears

Your mortgage payment deferral is over. Now what?

A home with a for sale sign, which is what many people might consider with the mortgage payment deferral deadline looming.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Mortgage payment deferral, swiftly implemented in wake of the COIVID-19 pandemic, is done September 30. If you still can’t pay, here’s what to do

Mortgage payment deferral, a six-month measure offered to Canadians this spring in response to the coronavirus pandemic, is coming to an end on September 30, 2020. 

The relief was offered to Canadians to help them stay in their homes while the job market recovered. And, according to the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA), as of July 2020, a whopping 775,000 Canadians took advantage of this program. (To put that number in context, there are currently 6 million homeowners with mortgages in Canada.) The result? A total of $180 billion worth of mortgage deferrals.

Experts fear a payment drop-off may be looming. Despite the mortgage deferrals, people will still be unable to make mortgage payments these next few months. While you can still apply for the program up until the end of the month, the vast majority of deferrals will be ending in October—more than 500,000 actually. That’s from the CBA, too.

So, what can you do if mortgage payments are starting back up and you’re not ready? That depends on your situation. Here are some options for tackling the upcoming mortgage payment deferral deadline.

If you can’t pay in the short term

If you’re looking to bridge a three- to six-month gap where you can’t pay:

Reach out to your lender, ASAP

First order of business: Contact your bank or your mortgage broker as soon as you realize there could be a hiccup and explain your situation. Lenders are often open to bringing on a co-signer for your mortgage, says Joe Pinheiro, treasurer on the executive committee of Mortgage Professionals Canada, and a 30-year mortgage veteran. Adding a co-signer with equity (assets that could be used as a lien against the mortgage) can help you keep your mortgage if you recently lost your job or have a reduced income. “The one thing banks don’t want is people ignoring them—they really want to keep Canadians in their homes.”

Ask for an extension

The bank may be able to extend your deferral, but it won’t be quite as easy as before the mortgage payment deferral deadline. It is no longer a matter of signing up; you’ll have to prove that you need the extension and that you have a plan to keep paying your mortgage in the near future, says Wes Pauls, co-owner and lead mortgage agent with Mortgage Teacher in Hamilton. “Some lenders will consider extending deferrals on a case-by-case basis for people who absolutely require it.” 

Seek additional financing

If a further deferral isn’t an option, borrowing might be your best bet. Pauls suggests using an existing line of credit or borrowing money from family to make your payments for a few months. Once you’re financially stable again, you can attempt to refinance your mortgage, perhaps pulling out some equity, to pay off that debt. You could also consider applying for a home equity line of credit (HELOC), too. Like a regular line of credit, the payment schedule is flexible. But unlike a regular line of credit, the interest rate tends to be lower and uses home equity to secure the loan. (That’s the difference between the current value of your home and the unpaid balance of your mortgage.) If you need to use a credit card in the meantime, just be aware of the interest you will be paying. For example, it may not be worth using a high-interest credit card to pay off short-term debt; seek a low-interest option instead. 

If there’s no end in sight

Let’s say you can’t make your mortgage payments, and you won’t be able to for the foreseeable future. Even if you’ve exhausted your savings and lines of credit, there are still options to keep your home. 

Consider refinancing

Consulting a mortgage broker or financial expert to discuss refinancing could help to pinpoint the best solution for you. “They can look at your overall cash-flow situation. Maybe it’s actually your debt obligations that are causing the problem, not your mortgage payment,” says Pinheiro. “For example, your mortgage payment could be $1,000 but your minimum credit card payment has risen to $800 during this time. They could then find a way to get that credit card payment down and see if you can now afford your mortgage.”

He adds: “Depending on the situation, you could refinance the home and extend the amortization.” (To extend the amortization is to lengthen the time over which the payments are spread so that individual payments are smaller and more affordable.) “If it’s not an insured mortgage, you could increase [the amortization] up to 30 years. And so it would give you some time, and help manage the payments.”

Consider private lending

If you don’t want to sell, and you have a decent amount of home equity but don’t qualify for a HELOC, you can consider a private mortgage to hold you over. 

A private mortgage is typically an arrangement with an individual or through a mortgage investment corporation. Equity is their main criteria, and they’re less concerned with your income and credit than your bank would be. (Yes, this would be considered a “second mortgage,” which just refers to the order in which debts secured by a property are subsequently paid out in the event of a sale.) “Basically if you have enough equity, you could borrow $50,000 from a private lender at 10% to 12% interest,” says Pauls. “You can then use that money to pay off your high-interest credit cards and [continue paying] your mortgage.” 

This strategy could keep you in your home a little longer, but there are caveats. Private mortgages typically have higher rates, as they will be measured on the title behind the first mortgage and would be paid after the current mortgage lender in the event of a sale. And since these rates are higher, a private mortgage is not a permanent or long-term fix. 

“It is a Band-Aid solution to get through tough times,” Pauls advises. “You need to make sure you have an exit strategy.” When you’re back to work or life stresses ease up, that strategy could include remortgaging the home with the current lender to pay out the private mortgage—an option that wouldn’t be available initially, since you might be out of work and private lenders aren’t as concerned with your income. 

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Pauls advises looking at this option before you consider trying to sell your home in a potentially saturated market or sacrificing your credit. “In a year’s time, when you have a new job, you now have no debt, good credit and can refinance that loan to one normal mortgage. No harm, no foul.”

When to consider selling

In some cases, staying in your home isn’t possible, or even wise. How do you know when you’re at that point? The first step is to take long-term, realistic stock of the situation.  “Look at your finances three to six months out,” says Pauls. “Ask yourself: How many months do I have to keep going? What’s on the horizon for me, employment-wise?” 

For people who don’t have a lot of time, and you’ve spoken to your bank and exhausted resources like lines of credit, he encourages them to sell before they touch their retirement savings. “You’ve been dealt a poor hand, but you don’t have to drain yourself,” says Pauls. “Sell your house, find a nice place to rent, and start again when you get a new job, with some money in your pocket and your retirement savings intact.”

If you end up with some cash in your pocket from the sale, don’t risk it getting drained before you buy again. Consider some short-term investments or a high-interest savings account.

If you must sell

While this is a reality for some, Pinheiro says there are likely very few people who’ll need to sell their home. “There’s a lot of resiliency in the Canadian economy and with Canadian homeowners.” 

If you do have to sell, the important thing is to do minimum damage to your credit, and get as much money as possible for your home.  That means getting ahead of the bank, and selling before they decide to foreclose. The worst scenario is to have the bank come and take your home, because now you’re in a power of sale situation and that’s going to affect your credit,” says Pinheiro. 

Not only that, but you’ll earn less for your home that way. “The second they start power of sale default proceedings, you’re now incurring costs and equity is being ripped away from you,” says Pauls. “And if you’re going to rent, you’re going to want as much cash available” from the proceeds of your home sale.

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Even if you feel hopeless, hang in there. “Don’t just let your house go [into foreclosure] because you’re tired and frustrated,” says Pauls. “If you manage this process well, you could be a homeowner again in a few years when things turn around.”

No matter what your status: plan, plan, plan

You’ve probably heard finance professionals tout the importance of having three to six months of living expenses saved, and they’ve never been more vindicated than during this pandemic.

“If you’re in an industry that could be problematic [like service or hospitality], you need to be ready for a possible second wave,” says Pauls. He suggests that banks might not offer so much leniency the second time around.

If you can’t seem to get a handle on savings, he recommends automatically depositing some funds into a separate account that’s not accessible by bank card. “Set it up like a bill payment,” says Pauls. “It becomes habitual and that money is elsewhere“ so you are less likely to dip into it.

All in all, this has been a financial wake-up call for many. “It’s really important to talk to a mortgage broker about the overall financial picture, not just the mortgage,” says Pinheiro. “They can [help you] figure out how to get you back on track and probably put you in an even better situation than you were prior to the pandemic.” 

Source: MoneySense.ca

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Here’s What Canada’s Mortgage Deferral Cliff Looks Like, And Why Experts Are Worried

Canadian real estate buyers are jumping in head first, since the recession didn’t impact housing. However, since the beginning of the pandemic, experts said no issues would be apparent until the end of the year. The reason is a term only finance and banking nerds have been using – the deferral cliff. The deferral cliff is the expiration of programs that bought distressed owners a few extra months. Until the deferral cliff arrives, we won’t see any of the problems in the housing market. Here’s when it’s coming, and when you should see an impact.

Mortgage Deferral Cliff

The mortgage deferral cliff is when payment deferral plans begin to expire. After the pandemic driven shutdown, Canadian and US governments scrambled to get banks to defer mortgage payments for the unemployed. Starting in April, people without income were allowed to delay payments for up to 6 months. This eliminated the spike in arrears we would normally see during a recession. It also happens to restrain inventory from hitting the market. As the six month deferral period ends, homeowners that aren’t back on their feet, are going to have to deal with their housing woes.

Industry experts warned mortgage deferrals give a false sense of security. Since people haven’t seen any defaults or distressed sales, moral hazard was created. That is, people now think housing markets have no risk. However, this is only temporary. As these deferrals expire, we approach the cliff. Once we get there, a significant number of people that haven’t got back on their feet will start to

Most Canadian Mortgage Payment Deferrals Will Expire In October

Since the longest deferrals are six months, we don’t really see any issues pop up until October. In October, about ~500,000 mortgages should expire. Followed by another 221,000 in November, and a big dip lower to 15,000 in December. There’s a mild bump higher with 24,000 in January, and February won’t be known until the cut off is reached next month.

Canadian Mortgage Deferral Cliff

The estimated number of expirations of payment deferrals for Canadian mortgages.Oct 2020Nov 2020Dec 2020Jan 20210100,000200,000300,000400,000500,000Mortgages

MonthMortgages
Oct 2020500,000
Nov 2020221,000
Dec 202015,000
Jan 202124,000

Source: Bank filings, Better Dwelling.

Now, don’t confuse the expiration of payment deferrals with a spike in arrears rates. It takes 90 days of non-payment for a mortgage to fall into arrears. This means October’s surge wouldn’t see any contribution to arrears until January. November would be in February, etc… That said, rising arrear rates depend on liquidity.

If you can’t afford your home, what’s the first thing you do? List it for sale. The inability to pay doesn’t always turn into defaults when there’s buyers. Instead, people list their homes for sale and hope it sells and closes before the lender tries to claim it. Unless you’re not all that smart, this is the first thing you would look to do. In which case, we should see a spike in inventory first.

Source: Better Dwelling AUGUST 21, 2020

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Preparing for the storm

Preparing for the storm

by Michael McWilliams, Tamara Watson 27 Jul 2020

If mortgage loans are ships at sea, they are locked on a course that’s taking them directly into a storm. Reports released since COVID-19 hit the Canadian economy tell us that that storm – a nauseating combination of rising mortgage defaults and crashing real estate prices – is coming.

This knowledge leaves mortgage lenders with three questions: What should they do to prepare? How should they navigate the situation? And will their investments survive?

Early warnings of mortgage defaults arrived shortly after COVID-19. In April, a Dart & Maru/Blue survey found that one in 10 Canadian mortgage holders believed they would soon default. A majority of Canadians also believed that housing prices would depreciate in the months to come.

In May, CMHC CEO Evan Siddall warned the country that a growing debt “deferral cliff” is looming in the fall, when borrowers will have to start paying their mortgages again after a six-month respite. When the deferred debt comes due, as much as 20% of mortgages could be in arrears. Soon after, the Bank of Canada echoed Siddall’s warning in a financial system review released on May 26.

The risk of default is compounded by falling real estate prices. According to the experts, Canadian housing prices are set to fall by between 9% and 18%. A full return to pre-COVID levels is not expected before the end of 2022.

Thanks to two decades of low unemployment and rising real estate values, many private lenders have never experienced a default. If they have, the borrower has typically been able to remedy the default or refinance the mortgage loan before enforcement became necessary.  

Mortgage lenders can take practical steps to protect their loan investments before they are lost at sea. While no amount of planning can guarantee that a determined borrower will not bring endless motions or break the locks to re-enter the property, lenders can mitigate much of the risk related to mortgage enforcement through preparation.

First, assess the likelihood that the borrower will default on the loan. Gather all available information about the borrower from the mortgage application, publicly available documents and even from the borrower themselves. If a borrower has lost a job or had to shut down a business, the lender needs to know. For corporate borrowers, obtain an updated corporation profile report to see if the corporation has been dissolved. If it has, the land securing its mortgage loan may become vested in the Crown, and the lender will face a special set of challenges.

Second, determine whether the security sufficiently ensures repayment of the loan. Factors will include an assessment of the current value of the property, the position the mortgage is in, whether the property generates income, whether an assignment of rents was provided and whether any personal guarantees were given. A lender that is not in first position should consider how much equity might be available if the property is sold and what it will do if there is a shortfall. Second and subsequent mortgagees might also wish to consider whether they have or can get enough capital to pay out prior mortgage lenders to get control of the mortgage enforcement process.

Third, work with knowledgeable legal counsel to develop a mortgage enforcement strategy. Several remedies are available; there’s no simple answer to the question of which one will be most effective. In every case, the lender must weigh the merits of all available remedies with the help of experienced legal counsel.

As housing prices fall, distressed borrowers will have limited ability to refinance a mortgage in default. Some highly leveraged borrowers will choose to walk away from real estate investments once their equity dwindles down to nothing. Compared to recent decades, we can expect more contested proceedings and difficult choices about the best remedy.

The good news is that mortgage lenders can improve the odds of reaching safe harbour with strategic preparation and sound advice. The storm is coming. The time to prepare is already here.

Source: MortgageBrokerNews.ca Michael McWilliams is a partner and head of the commercial litigation group at TK law firm Loopstra Nixon. Tamara Watson is a student-at-law at Loopstra Nixon who will be called to the bar in 2020

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Mortgage Deferrals ‘Buying Time’ For Canadians, Bank Of Canada Says

A view of Metro Vancouver is seen here at twilight on July 18, 2020, from Burnaby, B.C. Softening...
A view of Metro Vancouver is seen here at twilight on July 18, 2020, from Burnaby, B.C. Softening population growth from immigration could start to weaken house prices in the future.

The pause in mortgage payments are giving people a chance to get back to work.

TORONTO — A Bank of Canada economist says the current economic recovery could be different than the recovery from the financial crisis of 2008.

Mikael Khan, the Bank of Canada’s director of financial stability, said that while the employment rate has fallen due to the pandemic, house prices are recovering and keeping homeowners from filing for insolvency.

Khan said breaks from mortgage payments have bought homeowners some time to get back to work amid the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn.

“The fact that these deferrals have been available is really, really important,” said Khan. “Ultimately, what matters most when it comes to defaults is people having a job, having their incomes. What the deferrals are doing is they’re essentially buying time for that process to unfold.”

Khan, who spoke at the Move Smartly Toronto Real Estate Summit on Monday, has been studying mortgage defaults. He compared the COVID-19 pandemic to a natural disaster, such as the 2016 wildfires in Fort McMurray, Alta., which also involved a mortgage deferral recovery plan.

Bank of Canada research found that while the wildfires caused a bigger spike in employment insurance filings than the 2008 recession, the EI trend reversed much faster after the fires than in 2008.

The 2008 conditions set off a lengthy recession due to “an underlying fragility in the global financial system,” the research suggested. But the wildfires, like the COVID-19 pandemic, were a sudden shock.

“One thing that’s always very important when you’re facing a large negative shock is the initial conditions,” said Khan.

“In Fort McMurray, when the wildfires hit, that’s an area that had already been struggling for some time with the decline in oil prices that had occurred about a year or so prior, so financial stress was quite high,” Khan said.

“Now, at the national level, what we’ve been concerned about for many, many years is the high level of household debt. That’s the No. 1 pre-existing condition that was there when the pandemic struck.”

While there are some parallels, the rebuilding process from a pandemic remains more uncertain compared to a wildfire, the research said. Khan cited increased savings rates as an example of a fundamental shift with potential to affect how quickly the economy recovers from COVID-19.

Watch: Expect interest rates to stay low for “a long time,” the Bank of Canada says. Story continues below.

Over the past few months, some have warned that it could lead to a deferral cliff once benefits —such as Canada Emergency Response Benefit and mortgage deferrals — run out.

“When it comes to bumpiness in the recovery … this question that has been in the background of most of our discussions is, ‘To what extent will we see defaults or insolvencies?’” said Khan. “I think it’s reasonable to expect some sort of increase. What we’d be concerned about, there, is a very large-scale increase.”

Khan said that when a mortgage is in default, it can be caused by a “dual trigger” of both unemployment and large decline in house prices. Home prices in many areas have recovered since the start of the pandemic, Khan said. The job market’s recovery will be key to determining the impact of mortgage deferrals, said Bank of Canada research cited by Khan.

Softening population growth from immigration could start to weaken house prices in the future. But for now, Khan said, it wouldn’t make sense for homeowners with healthy home equity to file for insolvency.

“Even in cases where a homeowner simply can’t make their mortgage payments anymore — as long as they have equity in their homes and the housing market is relatively stable — there’s always the option to simply sell without kind of resorting to those sorts of measures,” said Khan.

Source: This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 20, 2020.

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The worst is yet to come for renters, apartment owners

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Apartment landlords across the U.S. spent the last days of March holding their collective breath while waiting for rent checks to come in.

For the most part, they did, thanks to the $2 trillion in emergency relief authorized by Congress to blunt the economic blow of the pandemic. Now, expanded unemployment benefits are expiring and eviction bans are set to lift, leaving tenants and building owners wondering again what will happen when the bills are due.

It’s not going to be good.

One in three renters failed to make their full payment in the first week of July, an Apartment List survey showed. Nearly 12 million renters could be served with eviction notices in the next four months, according to an analysis by advisory firm Stout Risius Ross. And in some cities, like New York and Houston, more than a fifth of renters say they have “no confidence” in their ability to pay next month.

“You’d have to go back to the Great Depression to find the kind of numbers we’re looking at right now,” said John Pollock, staff attorney at the Public Justice Center, a Baltimore nonprofit that uses legal tools to fight poverty. “There’s almost no precedent for this, which is why it’s so scary.”

The pandemic spurred mass layoffs beginning in March, and renters have been scraping by on a combination of savings, credit card debt, unemployment benefits and federal stimulus. Roughly 11 million renters spend at least half of their income to keep a roof over their heads in normal times, and the first wave of job cuts skewed toward lower-paying retail and hospitality workers who are less likely to have emergency savings.

One-time stimulus payments of $1,200 helped, as did eviction moratoriums passed by local, state and federal governments. And Congress authorized an additional $600 a week in unemployment insurance on top of what states provide, offering a lifeline to millions. In some cases, the benefits exceed what workers were bringing home while employed.

That extra boost will expire at the end of the month without action by Congress. The Trump administration and Senate Republicans have yet to release their $1 trillion plan for another round of virus relief, which Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and others have described as an extension of portions of the last stimulus. The proposal would be their opening bid in talks with Democrats, who’ve already offered a $3.5 trillion package.

Continuing the extra unemployment benefits would provide a measure of relief to people like Brooke Martin, 33, who lost her job at a dive bar in Seattle in March. Even though the business has since reopened, she’s hesitant to go back, fearing for her own safety. The bar doesn’t have good ventilation and people aren’t wearing masks when they aren’t drinking, she said.

Martin and her husband have been living off her unemployment alone, because he was unable to collect benefits himself. After her student loan payments, utilities and other expenses, the money is barely enough to cover their $1,800-a-month apartment.

“As of the end of the month, we’re screwed,” she said. “There’s just no two ways about it.”

The U.S. had a pretty “stingy” safety net when it came to housing before the pandemic, said Mary Cunningham, vice president of the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center at the Urban Institute.

But Congress’s quick action to give aid this spring has shown the upside of being more generous. Adults who received unemployment benefits were far less likely to report they were worried about making rent or mortgage payments, compared to those who hadn’t gotten the relief, according to a survey the institute conducted in May.

“This has been an important part of the safety net,” said Cunningham. “If Congress doesn’t do anything, I think we are in for a dark fall and winter.”

John Pawlowski, a senior analyst at real estate research firm Green Street Advisors, said he doubts the apartment industry would see an immediate crash if the additional unemployment benefits aren’t extended. People will skip things like auto and credit card payments to cobble together enough for rent.

“People still need a place to live,” he said.

But over the long-term, rental revenue will decline because of missed payments and lower occupancy as tenants look to save money by doubling up with others, Pawlowski said. Landlords could end up missing more than $22 billion in rent over the next four months, according to the Stout analysis.

Chuck Sheldon manages about 1,650 apartments in Albuquerque, New Mexico, about half of which he owns. Rent collections have been far better than he had feared in late March, when several states were going into lockdown.

Sheldon’s T&C Management tends to rent to more blue-collar and service workers who have been disproportionately hit by job losses. Most have tried to stay current, he said, and the $600 unemployment boost has been a “huge” part of that.

“When it drops off, that’s going to be painful,” he said.

Source: Bloomberg News 26 Jul 2020

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The coronavirus is causing more missed mortgage payments – survey

The coronavirus is causing more missed mortgage payments – survey 

Up to 6% of Canadian home owners said they missed a mortgage payment recently as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a mid-April poll by Forum Research.

The survey also found that 76% will fail to pay another loan instalment before the crisis ends. Meanwhile, 46% were unable to secure mortgage deferrals and other similar forms of aid from their lenders, CMT reported.

Renters were hit especially hard, with 14% saying that they missed a payment recently.

Mobility restrictions and work stoppages since late March have severely affected households and landlords alike. The global outbreak has upended the national economy as a result, said Todd Skinner, TransUnion’s regional president for Canada, Latin America, and Caribbean.

“Whether it’s their health, financial well-being or changes in day-to-day living, the lives of millions of people in Canada and abroad have been dramatically changed,” Skinner said.

Data from TransUnion indicated that 57% of Canadians saw their incomes fall over the past few weeks. Another 10% are bracing themselves for further declines in the near future, with the possible losses pegged at an average of $935.

The most acute effects were seen among millennials and Gen Z-ers, TransUnion said. Approximately 78% and 74%, respectively, of these cohorts expressed fears about not being able to fulfil their monthly bills.

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Latest in Mortgage News: Six-Month Deferrals Could Cost You Up to $12,000

Nearly 600,000 Canadians have so far taken advantage of some form of mortgage deferral assistance due to the COVID-19 crisis, according to the Canadian Bankers Association (CBC).

With the average mortgage payment amounting to $1,326, this has freed up roughly $778 million per month, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

“This keeps money in the pockets of people who need it now,” the CBA noted. “Banks have publicly reported that more than 90% of those seeking a deferral are approved.”

But, of course, taking advantage of mortgage payment deferrals naturally comes at a cost. And that has been calculated at up to $12,000 in extra interest costs for those taking the full six-month deferrals, according to math from Integrated Mortgage Planners Inc. mortgage broker Dave Larock, published recently in the Globe and Mail.

Mortgage deferral costs for someone with a mortgage rate of 3% and amortized over 25 years (and assuming they just bought a house and immediately deferred payments) would amount to $2,082 in additional interest for a one-month deferral, $6,217 for six months and $12,346 for a six-month deferral, when added back into the life of the mortgage and assuming no extra repayments.

House Sales Down 14% in March

lenders provide covid-19 updateHome sales were down 14% nationally in March on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).

The declines in sales volumes varied by region, with drops of up to 24.9% in Hamilton-Burlington, 20.8% in the Greater Toronto Area, 26.3% in Calgary and 7.9% in Ottawa.

“March 2020 will be remembered around the planet for a long time,” said Jason Stephen, president of CREA. “Canadian home sales and listings were increasing heading into what was expected to be a busy spring [but] after Friday the 13th, everything went sideways.”

Average prices came in at $540,000, unchanged from February and up 12.5% from last year. Excluding the higher priced markets of the Greater Toronto and Vancouver Areas, the average price comes in at $410,000.

Looking ahead to April, CREA senior economist Shawn Cathcart said this: “Preliminary data from the first week of April suggest both sales and new listings were only about half of what would be normal for that time of year.”

Mortgage Rates Falling

After a recent rise in fixed mortgage rates, they have since started to fall back down, with a number of big lenders cutting rates between 5 and 20 bps.

Rates are declining due to falling bond yields (which lead fixed mortgages), as well as a decline in risk premium costs for borrowers, according to a recent post on RateSpy.com.

“…the trend implies we could see conventional 5-year fixed rates dip at least 20 more basis points (under 2.50%), if funding costs don’t shoot much higher,” the rate-comparison site noted. “Few would have expected that a month ago. At the time, spooked investors were forcing banks to pay far more for their funding. Since then, the Bank of Canada, Finance Department and CMHC have committed to buying hundreds of billions in money market instruments, bonds and mortgage securities, putting a lid on rates.”

HELOC Borrowing Down

HELOC borrowing growthHome Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) borrowing growth continued to decelerate in February, falling to a rate of 1.6% year-over-year, according to data from OSFI.

That’s down from an annual rate of more than 7% in 2018.

“Despite the overall stabilization of home prices in recent years, HELOC borrowing has been persistently slowing since the start of 2019, noted a recent Scotiabank report. “It is unclear if borrowing has been actively declining due to a change of consumer preferences or due to limited ease of accessing these funds.”

Overall mortgage growth remained strong in February, although that will certainly decline as data post-COVID-19 starts to roll in.

“Recent economic turmoil will likely lead to weaker mortgage credit growth in the months ahead,” Scotiabank noted. “In March, the Canadian labour market lost over 1 million jobs and home sales rapidly declined in the month. Mortgage credit growth is expected to stall in the coming months as the Canadian economy remains impacted by the pandemic.”

Source: Canadian Mortgage Trends – Mortgage Broker New

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The next financial crisis: A collapse of the mortgage system

Federal Reserve

The U.S. mortgage finance system could collapse if the Federal Reserve doesn’t step in with emergency loans to offset a coming wave of missed payments from borrowers crippled by the coronavirus pandemic.

Congress did not include relief for the mortgage industry in its $2 trillion rescue package — even as lawmakers required mortgage companies to allow homeowners up to a year’s delay in making payments on federally backed loans.

When individuals stop making payments on their home mortgages, the companies that handle the loans and process those payments, so-called mortgage servicers, are still on the hook: They’re legally obligated to keep sending money to insurers and investors in mortgage-backed securities, the giant bundles of home loans that are packaged and sold on the securities markets.

Now industry executives and regulators are worried that Congress’s generosity toward homeowners could wipe out those companies, causing investors not to get paid and potentially bankrupting the entire mortgage finance system — a domino effect that would make it much harder for borrowers to access credit to buy homes.

Housing lobbyists sounded the alarm to Senate staff about the potential danger, but the sheer scale of the rescue bill and the focus on communicating the industry’s other big concerns — such as the details of how long mortgages would be suspended — meant their warnings were unheeded in the rush to finish the massive legislation.

Yet while the final bill allocates $454 billion for the Treasury Department to support the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending programs, including for large corporations, there is no overt requirement for lending to mortgage companies, despite a weeklong lobbying push by the industry.

“There was a strong desire on the part of housing lobbyists to have the bill explicitly direct the Fed and Treasury to use some of that money to finance servicing advances,” said Michael Bright, CEO of the Structured Finance Association, which represents 370 financial institutions in the bond market.

Now industry lobbyists are turning their efforts to Trump administration officials.

“We have been in constant contact with many parts of the administration to ensure that they understand the urgency of this liquidity facility being set up,” said Bob Broeksmit, president and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association, a trade group.

Concerns about liquidity in the mortgage finance system have been building for years, as the companies that service mortgage loans are increasingly nonbanks — which don’t have banks’ access to Fed loans or their strict capital requirements and deposits to fall back on. Banks, which once dominated the business, have steadily pulled back since the 2008 housing market meltdown.

Usually, a mortgage company can withstand a few borrowers failing to make payments, but the breadth of the coronavirus pandemic has sparked industry estimates of between 25 and 50 percent of borrowers being unable to pay.

That “could threaten the ability of a mortgage servicer, particularly nonbank servicers, to remain a going concern,” the Conference of State Bank Supervisors warned Fed Chair Jerome Powell and Mnuchin in a March 25 letter.

State regulators wanted to weigh in because “our members are the primary regulators of the nonbank servicers,” said Margaret Liu, CSBS senior vice president and deputy general counsel.

If 25 percent of borrowers fail to make their mortgage payments, the industry would need $40 billion to cover three months of payments, according to Jay Bray, CEO of the servicing company Mr. Cooper. Depending on how long the situation lasts, Broeksmit said demands on servicers “could exceed $75 billion and could climb well above $100 billion.”

And if mortgage companies fail across the board, “the system breaks down,” said Andrew Jakabovics, vice president for policy development at Enterprise Community Partners, an affordable housing nonprofit.

“The kinds of relief we did during the foreclosure crisis — all of that had to do with the fact that we wanted to ensure that investors from across the world would continue to treat U.S. mortgage-backed securities as an incredibly safe investment,” Jakabovics said. “That would have very serious ramifications for the availability and price of mortgage credit.”

Bright, who formerly managed the $2 trillion portfolio of government-run mortgage financier Ginnie Mae, said he believes the Fed will come through with an emergency lending program for the industry.

“Even though that language wasn’t included [in the Senate bill], I do think it’s likely that this could be part of [the Fed’s Term Asset-Backed Loan Facility Program] in the end,” he said.

Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria — who regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government-sponsored mortgage giants that prop up about half of the nation’s $11 trillion market — said this week in a Bloomberg TV interview that he was confident that large banks would continue to extend credit to mortgage servicers for the time being.

Stillhe said, “if we get to a situation where this goes longer than two months, absolutely there’s going to need to be a bigger solution.”

Broeksmit said some mortgage companies won’t make it that long, depending on the share of loans in their portfolios located in areas of the country where the virus has hit particularly hard.

“Some servicers will need the liquidity sooner than others, so we’re hoping that the facility will be set up immediately,” Broeksmit said.

Liu also said the credit lines from banks wouldn’t be enough to keep the system afloat.

“The mortgage market is one of the many multiple complexly interconnected pieces of our financial system, so those assurances are really important, but I think the role of the government in being a reliable and available source of credit for the mortgage market and mortgage servicers during a crisis is even more important,” she said.

In the meantime, the industry is crossing its fingers that the individual cash relief in the Senate bill will lead to fewer people needing to request forbearance on their payments.

“We’re hoping that the take-up rate won’t be too high and that the duration is not extended, but we have to prepare for both,” Broeksmit said.

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Consumers could face hit to credit scores, jump in payments from mortgage deferrals

‘You’re going to get hiccups in this process; it’s never happened before,’ expert says

Details of RBC’s mortgage deferral program, obtained by CBC News, reveal the option will be available to all mortgage holders but in a way that appears to ensure the bank will not lose money in the short term and may even come out ahead. (David Donnelly/CBC)

Canadians couldn’t get answers on mortgage deferrals at Canada’s biggest bank because information and eligibility requirements kept changing almost by the hour, a source who works for RBC tells CBC News.

When the first details were eventually given out to frontline employees at RBC’s Mississauga call centre, they revealed deferrals would be available to all mortgage holders, but in a way that appears to ensure the bank would not lose money in the short term and may even come out ahead.

“Deferrals actually meant that interest accrued from each deferred payment was being added back into the principal balance of the mortgage,” said the source.

“Technically clients would then be [charged] interest on top of interest for those payments [that were] deferred,” they said.

In effect, it’s as though the bank is loaning you the amount that you would have paid in interest during the deferral period and then charging you interest on that loan as well.

“They’re going to make more money because they’ve just loaned you more,” said Peter Gorham, an actuary with JDM Actuarial Expert Services.

“I don’t know that I want to say it’s profiting. I would say it’s not costing them a penny.” he said.

“People are increasing their debt load. If you are not desperate for the financial relief, don’t take it,” Gorham said, adding RBC and other banks are taking on increased risk from deferrals, a risk that could grow significantly if the COVID-19 crisis runs from months into years.

When it comes to repaying the increased debt load from a deferral, there may be other complications for mortgage holders.

“This also means an increase in clients’ payments at their next renewal period due to the increase in mortgage balance,” the source at RBC said.

RBC frontline employees at one of the Bank’s call centres were overwhelmed with calls and had no information to provide customers, a source tells CBC News. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

If the client doesn’t want a bigger payment, they can extend the amortization period, the source added. But that typically requires a full credit application which may affect their credit score.

The other option is making extra payments after the deferral period ends to bring the mortgage back down as quickly as possible to its original amount.

Two other big banks have mortgage deferral polices similar to RBC’s.

In an updated set of deferral FAQs posted on its website, Scotiabank too says interest will continue to accrue.

“You will pay more interest over the life of your mortgage, but a deferral will also help you with your short-term cash flow,” the banks states on its website. Scotiabank is also offering deferrals on personal and auto loans, lines of credit, and credit cards.

On its website, BMO also states interest will continue to accrue on mortgages.

The Canadian Bankers Association issued a statement late Sunday night saying, “Customers should understand that [a deferral] is not mortgage forgiveness. Mortgage deferral means that payments are skipped for a defined period of time, during which interest which would otherwise be part of the deferred payments is added to the outstanding balance of the mortgage.”

Credit card deferrals

RBC is also offering six-month deferrals on credit card payments, according to an email obtained by CBC News. But once that period ends the minimum payment would include all accrued interest from the deferred payments. Meaning the minimum payment could jump significantly.

A section of an email obtained by CBC News which was sent to RBC employees with instructions of how to respond to customers seeking a deferral on credit card payments. The email was sent on March 18 at 1:16pm EDT. (Obtained by CBC News)

Most minimum payments on credit cards are interest plus $10. But Quebec passed a law in 2017 changing minimum payment requirements in an effort to counter rising household debt by making people pay off more than just accumulated interest.

Minimum payment on credit cards in Quebec is 2.5 per cent of the balance owing and will eventually rise to five per cent.

Confusion

Last week, all of Canada’s big banks agreed to a request from Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau to defer mortgage payments for up to six months for people suffering financially due to COVID-19.

The banks issued a joint statement saying they “have made a commitment to work with personal and small business banking customers on a case-by-case basis to provide flexible solutions to help them manage through challenges such as pay disruption due to COVID-19; child-care disruption due to school closures; or those facing illness from COVID-19.”

 

But initially many Canadians looking for deferrals said, after waiting for hours on hold, they were told they didn’t qualify. One BMO customer — who is actually a former BMO branch manager — said he was told he needed a full credit check and credit application and even then the bank would not tell him their criteria for approval.

It turns out the person he spoke with may not have known the criteria themselves at that point.

By midday Wednesday, workers at RBC’s Mississauga call centre still hadn’t been informed.

WATCH | Consumer frustrated at lack of information about mortgage deferrals

Watch

Confusion surrounds COVID-19 mortgage deferrals

Many Canadians looking for relief from mortgage payments during the COVID-19 pandemic are met with a confusing process. 2:00

“Anyone calling in to RBC between 8 a.m. and noon was directed to call back ‘later’ as we had been given no direction or timeframe as to when relief procedures would be implemented, other than ‘soon,'” a source told CBC News.

On March 13, the finance minister said that he had already spoken with the CEOs of the big banks. The banks issued their statement promising to work with Canadians on a case by case basis on the evening of March 17, around 7 p.m. ET.

Canadians began calling their banks the morning of March 18.

But, as late as March 20, Canadians were still being told no information was available.

“I was on hold for 11 hours [March 19] and then five hours [March 20],” said Lindsay Gillespie, who has a mortgage and a line of credit with FirstLine Mortgages, a division of CIBC.

Canada’s Minister of Finance Bill Morneau at a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada March 13, the day he told reporters he had spoken with the CEOs of Canada’s big banks. (Blair Gable/Reuters)

“I finally got through and was told there’s nothing that can be done right now, they don’t have anything set up. I was told to call back another time,” she said.

Also as late as March 20, some RBC customers were still being told they didn’t qualify for a six-month deferral.

“We called RBC and were told that deferrals are being assessed on a case-by-case basis and that our eligibility for a deferral is limited to six weeks,” said Jeff Hecker, a principal at a Toronto Marketing research firm.

“No explanation was provided,” he said.

In a statement issued Sunday evening, RBC said “the developments around COVID-19 are moving quickly and we understand that clients have questions. Our frontline employees are doing incredible work to respond to clients quickly and effectively, and we are staying close to them to ensure they have the information they need to support clients.”

Hiccups

Some in the mortgage industry say the confusion over deferrals is understandable, given the unprecedented and rapidly changing nature of the COVID-19 crisis.

“You’re going to get hiccups in this process; it’s never happened before,” said Robert McLister, mortgage expert and founder of RateSpy.com.

 

“It’s case-by-case, it’s completely at the lender’s discretion as far as I understand it. Even though the big banks have agreed with the federal government to offer these programs, there’s no mandatory federal guidelines that I’m aware of,” he said.

McLister says it’s possible some people are being declined mortgage deferrals because they can’t prove their income has dropped.

“But generally speaking if you are in legitimate need and you’re about to default on a mortgage payment the lender is going to work with you,” he said.

Source: CBC.ca – Aaron Saltzman – March 22, 2020

Senior Reporter, Consumer Affairs

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Frustrated Canadians looking for mortgage deferrals from big banks facing delays, denials

Mortgage holders say the process, criteria are unclear

With some people out of work during the COVID-19 outbreak, many are waiting for clear answers from their banks to see if they qualify for mortgage payment deferrals. (CBC)

Some Canadians looking to defer mortgage payments due to COVID-19 say they are facing delays, confusion and outright denials from the country’s big banks.

“My wife called the 1-800 number for Bank of Montreal, talked to an adviser on the line to see what we are eligible for,” said Evan McFatridge of Dartmouth, N.S., whose family is down to a single income because his wife has been laid off from her job at a restaurant.

“She was told that our mortgage was too new to qualify for a deferral,” he said.

As part of the government’s pledge to help Canadians suffering financially due to COVID-19, Finance Minister Bill Morneau asked the heads of Canada’s big banks to allow people to defer mortgage payments for up to six months.

The banks responded by issuing a statement saying they “have made a commitment to work with personal and small business banking customers on a case-by-case basis to provide flexible solutions to help them manage through challenges such as pay disruption due to COVID-19; child-care disruption due to school closures; or those facing illness from COVID-19.”

Evan and Janna McFatridge of Dartmouth, N.S., were told their mortgage was too new to qualify for a deferral. (Evan McFatridge)

But some Canadians looking for relief from mortgage payments say they’re encountering a confusing, opaque and seemingly arbitrary process that is only adding to the stress of illness, isolation and lost income.

“I called in yesterday, spent two hours on the phone, and they required a full credit check and credit application in order to even see if I was qualified [for a deferral] and then didn’t even give me a time frame,” said one former BMO branch manager.

CBC has agreed to keep his name confidential because of his concerns that his comments could jeopardize his current employment situation.

“So, they had to speak to both me and my wife over the phone, get all our income, our jobs, our assets, our liabilities, said they had to send it to the credit department for review and that someone would contact us,” he said.

“They had no criteria for what they’re looking for. If they said to me, ‘One of you has to be laid off. One of you has to be in isolation. You have to sign a disclosure statement.’ Fine.”

The man’s wife is on reduced hours at home because she has to care for their kids, whose schools have been shut. Facing the loss of a large chunk of their family income, he said ,he wanted to get ahead of the problem and defer two or three months of payments.

When a BMO mortgage holder — who is actually a former BMO manager — called BMO to see if he could get a mortgage payment deferral, he was told it required a full credit check and credit application in order to even see if he qualified. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

“Even if I had to pay the interest payments during that time and they deferred the principal amount so the balance stayed the same, so be it, that’s fine,” he said.

“I’ve been through things in Alberta like the Fort McMurray fires where basically [all that was required then] was a call in to defer payments.”

Questions for banks unanswered

CBC News asked each of the big five banks for more information on the criteria for the case-by-case-based decisions on mortgage and credit deferrals.

We asked:

  • Who would qualify?
  • Is there an application process?
  • Does the entire household have to be off work?
  • Will they require documentation?

None of the banks answered any of those questions.

TD, CIBC and Scotiabank all responded by repeating their commitment to work with personal and small-business banking customers on a case-by-case basis. Each encouraged customers to contact their call centres directly or visit their websites.

BMO and RBC did not respond to emails from CBC News.

‘My family will run out of money’

RBC customer Elsie Mamaradlo of Edmonton said she was also denied a deferral because her mortgage was too new.

“I got so frustrated and at the same time worried,” said Mamaradlo, who lost her job when the public recreation centre she works at was shut down due to coronavirus concerns.

Mamaradlo said that without the mortgage deferral, she faces a grim future.

“My family will run out of money for food and essentials,” she said.

Mamaradlo’s mortgage is insured with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The government is purchasing up to $50 billion of insured mortgage pools through the CMHC, which says that stable funding for the banks and mortgage lenders is meant to ensure continued lending to Canadian consumers.

Minister of Finance Bill Morneau speaks during a press conference on economic support for Canadians impacted by COVID-19, at West Block on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Wednesday. The federal government is rolling out $27 billion in new spending and $55 billion in credit to help families and businesses. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

In a tweet, CMHC said it “will support lenders in allowing deferral of mortgage payments for up to six months for those impacted [by the coronavirus].”

Alyson Whittle of Cochrane, Alta., said her bank, B2B, which is a subsidiary of Laurentian Bank, told her she could defer her next mortgage payment but then the following payment would be double.

“I was super frustrated,” she said.

Whittle, who works in sales for a home builder, and her husband, a utilities driller, are both out of work.

“My mom came to visit us and she had just come back from Las Vegas and developed a respiratory illness,” she said.

After that visit, Whittle says both she and her husband started feeling similar symptoms. They’re now both off work in isolation but haven’t been tested yet.

Laurentian Financial Group’s assistant vice-president of communications, Hélène Soulard, said it’s possible Whittle called before they were able to inform their call centre representatives about the deferral options.

“Rest assured we are committed to helping our customers who are facing hardships if they are not able to work due to illness, job loss or other reasons related to the COVID-19 crisis,” she said.

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