The use of Canada’s benchmark rate in administering the mortgage stress test is currently under review, according to an official with the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI).
Canadian Mortgage Trends – Steve Huebl·
For the first time in years, Canada’s first-time buyers have a reason to feel optimistic. September 2, 2019, marked the launch of the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s all-new First-Time Home Buyers Incentive (FTHBI), a financial incentive designed to help middle-class Canadians buy their first property.
The timing for the FTHBI couldn’t be better. Beyond the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive itself, there are three key real estate factors that actually favour all buyers as we head into 2019, not just first-timers. Fixed mortgage rates remain at an all-time low. Most markets across the country are balanced or even a little soft. And maybe best of all (and as discussed in this recent Fall Trends article) buyers typically don’t buy homes in the lead-up to a federal election, giving first-time buyers some added leverage as markets slow before October 21.
“The First Time Home Buyer Incentive will reduce the monthly mortgage for your first home by up to $286,” says Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and Minister Responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. “This will help up to 100,000 families across Canada to buy their first home.”
In effect, the FTHBI reduces their monthly mortgage payment without increasing the amount they need to save for the down payment. First-time buyers can finance a portion of their purchase through a form of shared equity mortgage with the Government of Canada. Home buyers will still have to pass the B-20 stress test and have mortgage pre-approval and mortgage approval.
“No doubt, some first-time buyers will benefit, and we’ll have to wait and see just how many families it affects,” says Paul Taylor, President and CEO, Mortgage Professionals Canada, Toronto.
For years now, unaffordable, astronomical properties have been getting all of the attention. In reality, those homes co-exist with some reasonably-priced, affordable homes in the very same cities, including Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Of course, those homes may be smaller apartments, older homes and/or in less desirable neighbourhoods, but they’re out there and may be perfectly suited to first-time buyers and their families.
“CMBA is in favor of the FTHBI because by sharing equity with the government, first-time home buyers in specific segments are able to reduce the cash required for their weekly or monthly payments,” says Vancouver-based Rob Regan-Pollock, senior mortgage broker, Invis Inc., and co-chair of the Canadian Mortgage Brokers Association. “It’s another tool in the quiver for mortgage brokers and agents that are helping first-time home buyers earning less than $120,000 annually get into markets where they can purchase a home for under $500,000.”
Let’s look at the financial impact the FTHBI would have on a family buying a $200,000 and a $500,000 home. With a 5% or $10,000 ($20,000 total with FTHBI) down payment on a $200,000 home, the buyers will save $114 a month or $1,372 a year. If they put $25,000 down ($50,000 with FTHBI) on a $500,000 home, they’ll reduce their monthly payments by $286 a month or $3,430 annually.
Now that you know exactly how the FTHBI could help you achieve your dream of home ownership, you can start planning your future to take advantage of the upcoming federal election, the staggeringly low fixed rate interest and softer markets in various regions of Canada.
Source: REW.ca – September 5, 2019
The benchmark posted 5-year fixed rate, which is used for stress-testing Canadian mortgages, fell yesterday in its first move since May 2018.
The Bank of Canada announced the mortgage qualifying rate drop to 5.19% from 5.34%. This marks the first reduction in the rate since September 2016.
The rate change came as a surprise to most observers, since it’s based on the mode average of the Big 6 banks’ posted 5-year fixed rates. And there have been no changes among the big banks’ 5-year posted rates since June 21.
As reported by RateSpy.com, the Bank of Canada explained today’s move as follows:
“There are currently two modes at equal distance from the simple 6-bank average. Therefore, the Bank would use their assets booked in CAD to determine the mode. We use the latest M4 return data released on OSFI’s website to do so. To obtain the value of assets booked in CAD, simply do the subtraction of total assets in foreign currency from total assets in total currency.”
If that sounds convoluted, RateSpy’s Rob McLister tells us this, in laymen’s terms: “What happened here was that the total Canadian assets of the three banks posting 5.34% fell much more than the total Canadian assets of the three banks posting 5.19%. The 5.19%-ers won out this week,” McLister said.
Of the Big 6 banks, Royal Rank, Scotiabank and National Bank have posted 5-year fixed rates of 3.19%, while BMO, TD and CIBC have posted 5-year fixed rates of 5.34%.
“It’s one of the most convoluted ways to qualify a mortgage borrower one could dream up, McLister added. “It’s almost incomprehensible to think random fluctuations in bank assets could have anything to do with whether a borrower can afford his or her future payments.”
In his post, McLister noted the qualifying rate change means someone making a 5% down payment could afford:
Without seasonal adjustments, the monthly Teranet-National Bank National Composite House Price Index would have been negative in the month of June. Thanks to a seasonal boost, however, the index rose just 0.5% from the year before.
Vancouver marked the 11th straight month of decline (down an annualized 4.9%), while Calgary recorded its 11th monthly decline (down 3.8%) in the past 12 months.
“These readings are consistent with signals from other indicators of soft resale markets in those metropolitan areas,” the report said.
But while Western Canada continues to grapple with sagging home sales and declining prices, markets in Ontario and Quebec are already posting increases following weakness in the first half of the year.
Prices in Toronto were up 2.8% vs. June 2018, while Hamilton saw an increase of 4.9% and London was up 3.3%. The biggest gains continue to be seen in Thunder Bay (up 9.2%), Ottawa-Gatineau (up 6.3%) and Montreal (up 5.4%).
Don’t hold your breath for another spectacular run-up in real estate as seen in recent years, say economists from RBC.
“A stable market isn’t a bad thing,” noted senior economist Robert Hogue. “This is sure to disappoint those hoping for a snapback in activity, especially out west. But it should be viewed as part of the solution to address issues of affordability and household debt in this country…It means that signs indicating we’ve passed the cyclical bottom have been sustained last month.”
Home resales in June were up marginally (0.3%) compared to the previous year, which Hague says provides “further evidence that the market has passed its cyclical bottom.”
Meanwhile, the national benchmark home price was down 0.3% year-over-year in June, “tracking very close to year-ago levels.”
Hague says these readings are good news for policy-makers, who he says want to see “generally soft but stable conditions in previously overheated markets.”
The federal government wants to make home ownership more affordable for young people and to do that it’s introducing the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive (FTHBI) this September. The $1.25 billion program, announced as part of the March federal budget, involves the government buying equity stakes in homes purchased by qualified home buyers, allowing for smaller mortgages that will keep monthly payments lower.
But how will the plan work? Below, we break down all the key details and take a look at who this new program is right for.
The program will be administered by Canada’s housing agency, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC), which will pay 5% of the purchase price for an existing home, and up to 10% for the value of a new home, in exchange for an equity stake. Once the homeowner sells, they’re obligated to repay the CMHC.
The fine print includes the following:
The program is for purchasers looking for a starter home but aren’t able to afford the monthly payments needed for a mortgage below $500,000. To qualify for mortgages in the $400,000 – $500,000 range, the household income would have to be close to six figures. Buyers would have to be willing to give up at least 5% of the value of their home to the federal government in exchange for lower monthly payments.
As an example, a couple earning up to the household income cap of $120,000 with a down payment of 5% on a new home would be entitled to an additional $48,000 provided by CMHC, as below:
|Couple earning $120,000|
|$480,000 total purchase|
|-$24,000 down payment|
|-$48,000 matched by CMHC (10% for a new home)|
|= $408,000 mortgage|
As both the household income and total purchase price are capped under the program, it’s worth noting that buyers with good credit and low debt might actually be able to borrow more money than the FTHBI would allow.
In this scenario, “the program forces you to buy less home than you otherwise would be able to. Whether consumers are disciplined enough to take part of that or not is the real question,” says Paul Taylor, president and CEO of Mortgage Professionals of Canada.
Buyers in the program will also want to consider the future value of their home over time. Is the neighborhood likely to increase in value? With a 5-10% equity stake in the home, CMHC will be along for the ride, both in the case of depreciation or appreciated value of the home.
“Vancouver North Shore is a great example. Now, it’s very much an outlier but if you bought the home in 1986 for $250,000 it’s probably worth $4 million now,” says Taylor.
The most expensive home you can buy would be about $565,000 a government official told the CBC, which all but disqualifies purchases of detached homes or upscale condos in downtown Vancouver and Toronto. For example, the average home price in the Greater Toronto Area as of May 2019 was $838,540, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board.
CMHC acknowledged earlier this year that the average home in these markets won’t be within reach.
“It may not be a condo in Yaletown or a house in Riverdale, but there are options in both metropolitan areas to accommodate this program,” CMHC said in a press release in April. “In fact, around 23% of transactions in Toronto are for homes under $500,000 and 10% in Vancouver.”
This means that potential buyers will want to be comfortable living in the outer suburbs like Langley or Surrey in Vancouver, or Brampton and Mississauga in Toronto.
|Downtown Toronto||Less than 30 listings|
|Downtown Vancouver||Less than 100 listings|
|Calgary||More than 600 listings|
|Winnipeg||More than 2,000 listings|
The program would seem to favour first-time buyers in smaller cities across Canada, at least when comparing options for buyers that tend to want to live in large cities downtown.
While this program can get you property up to $565,000 if you put the maximum down payment allowed for an insured mortgage (about 19.99%), we expect many who use this program will have the minimum 5% down payment and are looking to get into the property market sooner with help from the CMHC.
Based on that idea, we’ve compiled a look at some properties you can get in four major housing markets in Canada in the $490,000 to $505,000 price range. Take a look.
In Toronto: No houses listed but one-bedroom condos are available, typically 600-1,000 sq feet. Condos have more rooms and additional bathrooms as you get away from the city core. There is almost no supply below $300,000.
Here’s an example of what you might be able to get in the downtown core (one bedroom) in that price range.
In Vancouver: No houses listed but one-bedroom condos are available, typically 600-1,000 sq feet. More rooms and additional bathrooms as you get away from the city core.
Here’s an example of what you might be able to get (one bedroom).
In Calgary: You can find listings for two-bedroom bungalow houses downtown, along with two-bedroom condos over 900 square feet.
Here’s an example.
In Winnipeg: Limited supply at this price range. Detached houses are available however, with two-plus stories and multiple rooms. Large condos over 1,000 sq feet are available closer to a $300,00 price point.
Here’s an example.
Listing photos courtesy of Realtor.ca.
Source – LowestRates.ca – Mike Winters on June 17, 2019
Photos: James Bombales
Whether you want to stop paying skyrocketing rental rates, start building equity, or own property that can be passed down to your children, purchasing a home is likely a long-term goal of yours. However, with rising home costs and the mortgage stress test introduced in 2018, achieving that goal can be a challenge for many Canadians. Fortunately, there are a number of programs and incentives offered by the federal government that first-time homebuyers can apply for.
“First-time homebuyers in Canada have the opportunity to take advantage of some great federal government programs to assist them when purchasing their first home,” says Michael Therriault, Financial Advisor at Scotiabank. “They can apply for multiple programs as long as they are eligible, so it is strongly recommended for potential first-time homebuyers to meet with a financial advisor at their bank to go over their individual circumstances and to help determine the best program(s) for them.”
Early withdrawals from an RRSP are usually considered taxable income, but with the Government Home Buyer’s Plan, you can apply your RRSP savings toward the price of your home — tax free.
“The Home Buyer’s Plan (HBP) is a program that allows you to withdraw up to $25,000 ($50,000 per couple) in a calendar year from your registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) to buy or build a qualifying home for yourself or for a related person with a disability,” says Olga Coulter, Senior Account Manager at the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). “To be eligible, you must be a first-time homebuyer (ie. you haven’t purchased a home or lived in a spouse’s home within the last four years) and have a written agreement to buy or build a qualifying home for yourself or for a related person with a disability.”
However, it’s important to note that that these funds must have been in your account for at least 90 days before the purchase of your home and they do have to be paid back within a 15-year timeframe. “Essentially, you are ‘borrowing’ these funds from your RRSP as they need to be repaid over a 15-year period beginning the second calendar year after the withdrawal,” adds Therriault.
Introduced in 2009, the First-Time Home Buyers’ (FTHB) Tax Credit helps to make purchasing a home more affordable by allowing Canadians to claim a portion of their home purchase on their personal tax return that same year. This helps to offset expenses like legal fees, home inspections and other closing costs.
“The FTHB Tax Credit offers a $5,000 non-refundable income tax credit amount on a qualifying home acquired after January 27, 2009,” says Coulter. “For an eligible individual, the credit will provide up to $750 in federal tax relief.”
To be eligible, you, your spouse or common-law partner must have acquired a qualifying home (a unit located in Canada purchased after January 27, 2009) and cannot have lived in another home you or your partner owned in the year of acquisition or in any of the four preceding years.
If you are purchasing a new construction home, performing substantial renovations to an existing home, or rebuilding a home that was destroyed by fire, you will want to apply for the GST/HST New Housing Rebate. Filling in this form can save you thousands of dollars, as it recovers a portion of the goods and services tax (GST) or the federal part of the harmonized sales tax (HST) if all eligibility conditions are met.
“You may qualify for a rebate of part of the GST or HST that you paid on the purchase price or cost of building your new house, or on converting a non-residential property into a house,” explains Coulter. “You may also be eligible if you are doing substantial renovations or have hired someone to complete substantial renovations to an existing home, such as an addition.”
In addition to tax-related programs, first-time homebuyers have access to several CMHC Mortgage Loan Insurance Programs that can help them achieve the dream of homeownership. Listed below, these programs offer flexible terms and conditions to meet a variety of financing needs and are available throughout the country.
While it’s ideal to put at least 20 percent down, home prices in cities throughout Canada are rising faster than many homebuyers can save. “CMHC Purchase can help open the doors to homeownership by enabling homebuyers to buy a home with a minimum down payment of 5 percent,” says Coulter. “The premiums can either be paid up front in a lump sum or incorporated into an applicant’s mortgage loan payments.”
With such tight housing markets throughout the country, homebuyers may be interested in purchasing a fixer-upper that needs a little TLC. “CMHC Improvement allows the purchase of an existing residential property with improvements and new construction financing,” explains Coulter. “Features include flexible financing options with the option for CMHC to manage up to four advances at no cost to the borrower.”
Obtaining a mortgage can be especially difficult for newcomers to Canada. If you’re a permanent resident with a strong credit rating you may be able to qualify for a typical bank mortgage, however, if you don’t meet all the criteria, the CMHC Newcomers program can help.
“We have helped newcomers with permanent resident status become homeowners with a minimum down payment starting at 5 percent – regardless of how long they have been in Canada,” says Coulter. “Non-permanent residents can also purchase a home with a minimum down payment of 10 percent of the value of the home.”
Homebuyers who are self-employed may have difficulty qualifying for a mortgage given that their monthly income may be less predictable. CMHC’s Self-Employed program allows business owners with proper documentation to access mortgage loan insurance under the same criteria and insurance premiums as those with more calculable income.
“Self-employed Canadians make up about 15 percent of Canada’s labour force,” says Coulter. “CMHC facilitates access to mortgage loan insurance for business owners by providing enhanced flexibility for satisfying income and employment requirements for all self-employed borrowers at no additional cost.”
“CMHC Green Home encourages homebuyers to choose more energy-efficient housing options to increase comfort and healthier living, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” says Coulter. “The program offers a partial premium refund of up to 25 percent directly to borrowers who either buy, build or renovate a home to make it more energy-efficient using CMHC insured financing.”
The amount of the refund varies depending on the level of energy-efficiency achieved by your home as assessed by Natural Resource Canada (NRCan). Condo buyers are also eligible for the CMHC Green Home refund if the building is built to the LEED Canada New Construction standard.
Source: Livabl.com – James Bombales
Photo: James Bombales
It’s long been an accepted fact that self-employed Canadians have difficulty qualifying for mortgages. But that could be able to change, now that new lending rules are in place.
Starting today, new guidelines from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) will make it easier for anyone who has been self-employed for less than two years to qualify for a mortgage. The new rules will ask lenders to consider additional factors in their decision-making process, such as predictable earnings, cash reserves and education.
“Self-employed Canadians represent a significant part of the Canadian workforce,” writes CMHC chief commercial officer Romy Bowers, in a statement. “These policy changes respond to that reality by making it easier for self-employed borrowers to obtain CMHC mortgage loan insurance and benefit from competitive interest rates.”
Roughly 15 per cent of Canadians identify as self-employed, according to CMHC data, and the agency predicts that the number will increase as the “gig economy” continues to grow.
Approved lenders, including the country’s big banks, are under no strict obligation to observe the new guidelines, though it is likely that each will take their own approach to the new rules, according to CMHC spokesperson Audrey-Anne Coulombe.
“Implementation of CMHC guidelines may vary among lenders,” she tells Livabl. “These new guidelines are meant to be principle based and not to be too prescriptive to provide maximum flexibility for lenders.”
She adds that the overall objective of the rules was to provide additional guidance to self-employed Canadians looking to qualify for a mortgage.
“These policy changes will make it easier for self-employed borrowers to obtain CMHC mortgage loan insurance and benefit from competitive interest rates,” she shares.
Source: livabl.com – Sarah Niedoba
Source: The Globe and Mail – Rob Carrick
It’s tough to feel financially prudent when buying a house these days.
That’s why an increasing number of first-time buyers are saving a down payment of 20 per cent or more. In doing so, they avoid having to buy mortgage default insurance which, in the case of a house price of $487,095 (the national average) bought with a 10 per cent down payment, would be 3.1 per cent or $13,590. This premium is generally added to the mortgage, which means more interest to pay.
It certainly sounds financially prudent to make a 20-per-cent down payment where possible, but this isn’t always the case. In fact, you may save money both now and in the future by making a slightly smaller down payment and taking on the cost of mortgage default insurance.
Listen up if you’re concerned about the new mortgage lending rules that were announced last week and will take effect on Jan. 1. When making a down payment of 20 per cent or more, the new rules require that you be able to qualify for a mortgage at the greater of the five-year benchmark rate published by the Bank of Canada, or the original contractual rate plus two percentage points. An easier path to a mortgage may be to make a smaller down payment.
To even propose this seems bizarre. “The story has been that you’re just throwing money away with mortgage insurance,” said Mike Bricknell, a mortgage agent with CanWise Financial. What this thinking ignores is the way today’s mortgage market discriminates against people who make down payments of 20 per cent or more. They may pay a fair bit more for a mortgage than someone with a high-ratio mortgage (down payment of less than 20 per cent) both now and on renewal.
A lender dealing with a client who has a sub-20 per cent down payment can take comfort from the fact that the loan is covered by government-backed insurance that is paid for by the borrower. A conventional mortgage (20 per cent or more) can be insured as well, but by the lender. All in all, a high-ratio mortgage is preferable from the lender’s point of view and often results in a lower mortgage rate.
Mr. Bricknell has lately found that rates on five-year fixed rate mortgages are about 0.45 of a percentage point less for high ratio as opposed to conventional mortgages. Maybe your lender can do better than that. If not, consider this example of how a down payment less than 20 per cent can pay off.
We start with a $450,000 house and a buyer with a 20-per-cent down payment already saved. With a conventional mortgage amortized over 25 years, Mr. Bricknell figures this person could get a five-year fixed rate mortgage at 3.29 per cent. That means a monthly payment of $1,758.
Now, let’s see what happens when this borrower makes a 19-per-cent down payment. A smaller down payment means borrowing a bit more, and thus more interest over the life of the mortgage. Also, mortgage insurance will be required at a cost of $10,206. All of this nets out to a monthly payment of $1,743, with the mortgage insurance premium included. How is this possible? Mr. Bricknell said it’s because the high-ratio borrower gets a mortgage rate of 2.84 per cent.
There’s a stress test for high-ratio mortgages as well, but it’s marginally less onerous than it is for conventional mortgages because you only have to be able to handle the Bank of Canada benchmark rate, currently 4.89 per cent. Thus the high-ratio mortgage in Mr. Bricknell’s example would have a qualifying rate of 4.89 per cent and the conventional mortgage would be at 5.29 per cent (the client’s actual rate plus two percentage points).
The two mortgages outlined by Mr. Bricknell are pretty much a wash right now when compared on cost. Looking ahead, the high-ratio mortgage offers the potential for lower interest rates when it’s time to renew your mortgage. This assumes that lenders will continue to look more favourably at high-ratio mortgages.
Mortgage industry data show that even as house prices increased from the early 2000s through the past few years, the percentage of people making down payments of less than 20 per cent has declined to 39 per cent from 54 per cent. If the rationale for this is to save money and be financially prudent, a rethink is required. Depending on the rates offered by your lender, a slightly smaller down payment could save you money in the long run.