Tag Archives: home buyers

Mississauga Moves Towards Making Housing More Affordable

Source: Insauga.com – by Ashley Newport on October 17, 2017

It’s no secret that housing in Mississauga (and the overall 905 area) has become increasingly more expensive over time. With detached houses costing buyers $900,000 to $1 million and compact condos selling for over $400,000, residents are turning to the rental market and being equally as disappointed to see that prices are no more kind there (in some cases, two-bedroom suites can cost close to $2,000 a month).

The housing crisis is one that Mississauga has been, to its credit, taking seriously.

The City of Mississauga’s Planning and Development Committee recently adopted the city’s first housing strategy: Making Room for the Middle: A Housing Strategy for Mississauga.

According to the strategy, there’s a pressing and dire need to create affordable housing for middle income earners who are in danger of being priced out of the city.

Some of the draft’s findings are alarming, even though they’re not at all surprising.

Some key facts:

  • A home is considered affordable when its inhabitants spend 30 per cent or less of their earnings on housing costs
  • 1 in 3 households are spending more than 30 per cent of their income on housing and research suggests this number will rise
  • Middle income households typically net between $50,000 and $100,000 a year
  • Middle income earners include nurses, teachers and social workers
  • People who want to purchase homes can typically afford to pay between $270,000 and $400,000, meaning their only options are condos and a limited selection of townhouses
  • Housing prices are adversely affected by supply and demand imbalances (there’s much more demand than there is supply)
  • The average rental unit costs $1,200 a month
  • Rental inventory is 1.6 per cent (which is troublingly low)

The city is focusing on middle income earners because they typically make too much to qualify for government assistance, but still cannot afford to rent or purchase homes in the city. When people are priced out of their communities, the social and economic fabric of the area is compromised. If the middle class is forced to move further away, the city will only be suitable for very high and low-income earners–something leaders are hoping to prevent.

The city says the Strategy is Mississauga’s plan for fostering a supportive environment for the development of a range of housing that is affordable for all. While it targets middle-income households, it will also benefit lower-income households.

To be clear, the Region of Peel is responsible for subsidized housing (meaning housing associated with low-income earners who require special assistance to afford adequate shelter in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon). While attention must still be paid to lower-income residents (Peel has a notoriously long subsidized housing waitlist and too few shelters for those in need), middle-income households have not been widely supported in terms of housing supply.

Generally speaking, middle-income earners—think social workers, journalists and clerical workers—do not qualify for financial assistance and cannot afford housing at current market prices.

Ideally, the strategy will help provide opportunities for lower-income households by freeing up supply.

The strategy offers 40 actions supported by the Mississauga Housing Advisory Panel, a group of over 20 housing professionals from the public, private and non-profit sectors that shared their knowledge, advice and solutions. It also includes a five-year action plan centred on municipal powers and funding partnerships to achieve its goals.

“Housing is an issue that touches every Mississauga resident and business,” said Mayor Bonnie Crombie. “Council has already endorsed in-principle, actions to protect existing rental housing and create a housing-first policy for surplus lands. Making Room for the Middle: A Housing Strategy for Mississauga is the City’s plan to provide, together with our partners, a supportive development environment for a range of affordable housing.”

So, what has the city proposed?

  • Petition senior levels of government for taxation policies and credits that incent affordable housing
  • Pilot tools such as pre-zoning and a Development Permit System to develop affordable housing in appropriate locations (close to transit systems, for example)
  • Encourage the Region of Peel to develop an inclusionary zoning incentive program for private and nonprofit developers
  • Continue to engage with housing development stakeholders
  • Encourage the Region of Peel to investigate the cost of deferring development charges on the portion of affordable units provided in newly constructed multiple dwellings

The city has also been working to legalize accessory units (better known as basement apartments). At this juncture, basement suites remain a very viable option for people looking for affordable units, as the suites tend to cost $1,000 or less. Right now, most units remain unregistered and the city is responsible for levying fines against landlords operating unregulated units.

“Making Room for the Middle: A Housing Strategy for Mississauga defines how the City of Mississauga will address the affordable housing crisis in our City,” said Crombie in a statement. “We’re ready to do our part to ensure that those who want to live in Mississauga can afford to do so. The strategy provides bold, innovative solutions to increasing affordability. Safe, affordable housing is a pillar of a complete city and we will achieve our goals if we work together with our partners to create a supportive development environment for a range of affordable housing for all.”

According to the staff report, the strategy has received wide support since its release on March 29 from residents, agency partners and the building and development industry.

Speaking of the development industry, it appears that one affordable housing project is already in the works.

A few weeks ago, we learned that a brand new building development has been planned for the City Centre area.

The Daniels Corporation, the development firm who has built multiple properties in the City Centre and Erin Mills Town Centre areas in the city, is slated to construct an affordable housing project at 360 City Centre Drive.

Since this building will help the city fulfill its mandate, council will a provide a sizeable $2.7 million to the Region of Peel to offset development charges for the project.

The Region approved funding of the much-needed project to the tune of $65 million ($65,966,522, to be exact) on June 22. After approving funding, the Region asked Mississauga to “consider granting relief from City Development Charges (the aforementioned $2.7 million) by waiving or providing a grand to offset such DCs.”

As for how the development will work, 40 per cent of the units (70 in total) will be Rent Geared to Income suites. These units will take residents off affordable housing waitlist. The city also says that 60 per cent (or 104 units) will be set aside for renters and owned by the Region. They will be available to middle-class residents.

A second tower on the same podium will boast market-value units, creating a mixed-income property on City Centre grounds.

The movement of the affordable housing strategy is encouraging, especially since the city has been working to build consensus for sometime now.

The Mississauga Housing Forum held last spring enabled stakeholders to hear from renowned housing experts, “road test’ the strategy and provide their input. City staff say they have since have fine-tuned the strategy based on the feedback received.

“We heard from our residents and stakeholders and are taking action,” said Ed Sajecki, commissioner of planning and building. “Our strategy reflects the input we received. We can now create, together with our partners, a housing affordability solution that could be a model for other Canadian cities.”

The city says the next steps include actions to help preserve purpose-built rental housing, support for the Region of Peel in implementing its programs, and ongoing work with senior levels of government to make their surplus land available for affordable housing and provide standardized local housing data to measure housing affordability.

The final strategy will go to Council for approval on October 25.

 
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Ten ways the new mortgage rules will shake up the lending market

THE CANADIAN PRESS

 

Source: The Globe and Mail – SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL

T-minus 76 days and counting until Canada’s banking regulator launches its controversial mortgage stress test. It’ll be squarely aimed at people with heavier debt loads and at least 20 per cent equity – and it will be a tide turner.

Given where Canada’s home prices and debt levels are at, this is easily the most potent mortgage rule change of all time. Here are 10 ways it’s going to shake up Canada’s mortgage market for years to come:

1. It’s like a two-point rate hike: Uninsured borrowers can qualify for a mortgage today at five-year fixed rates as low as 2.97 per cent. In a few months that hurdle will soar to almost 5 per cent. If you’re affected by this, you could need upward of 20 per cent more income to get the same old bank mortgage that you could get today.

2. Quantifying the impact: An OSFI spokesperson refused to say how many borrowers might be affected, calling that data “supervisory information” that is “confidential.” But at least one in six uninsured borrowers could feel the blow based on the Bank of Canada estimates of “riskier borrowers” and predictions from industry economists like Will Dunning. Scores of borrowers will be forced to defer buying, pay higher rates, find a co-borrower and/or put more money down to qualify for a mortgage.

3. Why OSFI did it: Forcing people to prove they can afford much higher rates will substantially increase the quality of borrowers at Canada’s banks. OSFI argues that this will insulate our banking system from economic shocks, and to the extent it’s correct – that’s good news.

4. A leap in non-prime borrowing costs: Many home buyers with above-average debt, relative to income, will resort to much higher-cost lenders who allow more flexible debt ratio limits. At the very least, more will choose longer amortizations (i.e., 30 years instead of 25 years) and take longer to pay down their mortgage. Non-prime lenders will also become pickier. Why? Because they’ll see a flood of formerly “bankable” borrowers getting declined by the Big Six. That could force hundreds of thousands of borrowers into the arms of lenders with the highest rates. If you have a higher debt load, weak credit and/or less provable income, get ready to pay the piper.

5. A safer market or riskier market? The shift to expensive non-prime lenders could boost mortgage carrying costs and overburden many higher-risk borrowers, exacerbating debt and default risk in the non-prime space. “We’re very aware of the potential migration risk [from banks to less regulated lenders],” Banking superintendent Jeremy Rudin told BNN on Tuesday. “It’s not something that would be a positive development.” If rates keep rising, non-prime default rates could spike over time. Albeit, keep in mind, we’re talking a single-digit percentage of borrowers here. The question people will ask is: Does growing debt risk in the non-prime mortgage market, combined with home price risk and a potential drop in employment and consumer spending truly lower banks’ risk?

6. Provincially regulated lenders win: Unless provincial regulators follow OSFI’s lead (if history is a guide, they won’t), it’ll be a bonanza for some credit unions. Many credit unions will still let you get a mortgage based on your actual (contract) rate, instead of the much higher stress-test rate. That means you’ll qualify for a bigger loan – if you want one. We could also see a few non-prime lenders charge lower rates to help people qualify for bigger mortgages, while tacking on a fee to mortgage for that privilege.

7. Trapped renewers: Lenders are thrilled about one thing: customer retention. As many as one in six people renewing their mortgage could be trapped at their existing bank because they can’t pass the stress test at another lender. And if a bank knows you can’t leave, you can bet your boots they’ll use that as leverage to serve up subpar renewal rates.

8. A short-term spurt: Expect a rush of buying in the near term from people who fear they won’t qualify after Jan. 1. The question is, how much of that short-term demand will be offset by people selling, as a result of the rule change’s perceived negative impact. In the medium term – other things equal – this is bearish for Canadian home prices. Period. That said, borrowers will likely adapt within two to five years. And prices will ultimately resume higher.

9. The stress test could change…someday: While few credible sources expect OSFI’s announcement to trigger a housing crash, the higher rates go, the more this will slow housing. Financial markets expect another rate hike by January, with potentially two to four – or more – to come. Mr. Rudin says OSFI may “revisit” the restrictiveness of the stress test if rates surge, but will the regulator act in time to prevent diving home values? That’s the trillion-dollar question. The good news is that rates generally rise with a strengthening economy, which is bullish for housing – for at least a little while.

10. Questions abound: Tuesday’s news will undoubtedly spark contentious debate over whether this was all necessary, given already slowing home prices, provincial rule tightening, rising rates and the fact that uninsured default rates are considerably lower than for people with less than 20 per cent equity.

OSFI says its responsibility is to keep banks safe and sound. Overly concerning itself with the side effects of its mortgage stress test is not its mandate, it claims. Well, in a few years we might be either congratulating OSFI, or asking if that mandate needs to change.

THE CANADIAN PRESS

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What the new mortgage rules mean for homebuyers – There are two scenarios new buyers can anticipate

mortgage math

 

Source: MoneySense.ca – by  

 

 

Today, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) introduced new rules on mortgage lending to take effect next year.

OSFI is setting a new minimum qualifying rate, or “stress test,” for uninsured mortgages (mortgage consumers with down payments 20% or greater than their home price).

The rules now require the minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages to be the greater of the five-year benchmark rate published by the Bank of Canada (presently 4.89%) or 200 basis points above the mortgage holder’s contractual mortgage rate. “The main effect will be felt by first-time buyers,” says James Laird, co-founder of Ratehub.ca. “No matter how much money they put down as a down payment, they will have to pass the stress test.” The effect of the changes will be huge, resulting in a 20% decrease in affordability, meaning a first-time homebuyer will be able to buy 20% less house, explains Laird.

MoneySense asked Ratehub.ca to run the numbers on two likely scenarios and find out what it would mean for a family’s bottom line. Here’s what they found:

SCENARIO 1: Bank of Canada five-year benchmark qualifying rate

In this case, the family’s mortgage rate, plus 200 basis points, is less than the Bank of Canada five-year benchmark of 4.89%.

According to Ratehub.ca’s mortgage affordability calculator, a family with an annual income of $100,000 with a 20% down payment at a five-year fixed mortgage rate of 2.83% amortized over 25 years can currently afford a home worth $726,939.

Under new rules, they need to qualify at 4.89%
They can now afford $570,970
A difference of $155,969 (less 21.45%)

SCENARIO 2: 200 basis points above contractual rate

In this case, the family’s mortgage rate, plus 200 basis points, is greater than the Bank of Canada five-year benchmark of 4.89%.

According to Ratehub.ca’s mortgage affordability calculator, a family with an annual income of $100,000 with a 20% down payment at a five-year fixed mortgage rate of 3.09% amortized over 25 years can currently afford a home worth $706,692.

Under new rules, they need to qualify at 5.09%
They can now afford $559,896
A difference of $146,796 (less 20.77%)

If a first-time homebuyer doesn’t pass the new stress test, they have three options, says Laird. “They can either put down more money on their down payment to pass the stress test, they can decide not to purchase the home, or they can add a co-signer onto the loan that has income as well,” says Laird. The stress test will be done at the time of refinancing as well, with one exception. “If on renewal you stay with your existing lender, then you don’t have to pass the stress test again,” says Laird. “However, if you change lenders at mortgage renewal time, you may have to pass the stress test but it’s not crystal clear now if this will be the case for those switching mortgage lenders.”

So if you’re a first-time homebuyer, it may mean renting a little longer and waiting for your income to go up before you’re able to buy your first home. Alternatively, some first-time buyers will buy less—maybe a condo instead of a pricier detached home. Or, the new buyers may opt to get a co-signer to qualify under the new rules.

But whatever you do, if you’re a first-time buyer, make sure you understand what you qualify for using the new regulatory rules, and get a pre-approved mortgage before you start house-hunting. “This shouldn’t be something that shocks you partway through the home-buying process,” says Laird.

And finally, do your own research and run the numbers on your own family’s income numbers. You can use Ratehub.ca’s free online mortgage affordability calculator to calculate the impact of the mortgage stress test on your home affordability.

mortgage math

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Still thinking of home ownership as an investment? Here’s proof you’re wrong

 

Source: The Globe and Mail

Take some advice from rookie home owner Desirae Odjick about houses as an investment.

As a personal finance blogger, she ran the numbers on the cost of owning a home and concluded that breaking even would be a good outcome when it comes time, many years down the road, to sell. “A house is not a long-term investment,” she said in an interview. “It’s not a miracle financial product. It’s where you live.”

The idea that owning a house is an investment is so ingrained that a recent survey found one-third of homeowners expect rising prices to provide for them in retirement. But rising prices do not necessarily mean houses are a great investment.

Ms. Odjick lives in a suburb of Ottawa, where the real estate market’s recent strength still leaves it way behind price gains seen in the Toronto and Vancouver areas. But her point is relevant to all markets where prices aren’t soaring, and probably to hot markets as well if you’re just now buying a first home and understand that continuous massive price gains are unlikely.

In terms of home upkeep costs, Ms. Odjick and her partner have had an easy time of it since they bought in the spring. But they’ve still had expenses that surprised them. “You can use all the calculators you want and you can plan as much as you want, but until you’re in it you really don’t know what the costs are going to be.”

One example is the $3,000 spent at IKEA to equip the house with furnishings as mundane as bathmats. Another was the cost of term life insurance, which, incidentally, is a smart purchase. Term life answers the question of how the mortgage gets paid if one partner in a home-owning couple dies.

Estimates of the cost of upkeep and maintenance on a home range between 1 and 3 per cent of the market value. Her house cost $425,000, which means that upkeep costs conservatively estimated at 1 per cent would come out to an average of $4,250 per year and a total $106,250 over 25 years. Ms. Odjick is too recent an owner to have much sense of these costs, but the housing inspector she used before buying warned her to expect to need a new roof in two or three years.

She and her partner don’t have grandiose plans to fix their place up right now, but she did mention that they are looking at having children. There will almost certainly be expenses associated with getting the baby’s room ready.

In her own analysis of housing costs, Ms. Odjick estimated the cost of property taxes at 1 per cent of a home’s value. That’s another $4,250 per year. This cost would add up to $106,250 over 25 years, and that’s without annual increases factored in.

The biggest cost homeowners face is mortgage payments. Ms. Odjick and her partner made a down payment of 10 per cent on their home and chose a two-year fixed-rate mortgage at 2.71 per cent. Assuming rates stay level and no prepayments are made, this would theoretically work out to a total of $542,122 in principal and interest over the 25-year amortization period.

But rates have crept higher since mid-summer and could increase further in the months ahead. In a post on home ownership on her Half Banked blog, Ms. Odjick said the idea of rates staying level “is bananas and will not happen.”

Let’s add up the costs of home ownership as likely to be experienced by Ms. Odjick over 25 years. There’s the $42,500 she and her partner put down to buy the house, the $106,250 cost for each of property taxes and upkeep/maintenance and $542,122 in mortgage principal and interest. Total: $797,122.

Now, let’s imagine the $425,000 house appreciates at 2.5 per cent annually for 25 years. That’s in line with reasonable expectations for inflation. The future price in this case would be $787,926, which means Ms. Odjick and her partner would have paid a bit more in costs than they get for selling their house in the end.

Houses can be sold tax-free if they’re a principal residence, so there is something to the house-as-an-investment argument. But the numbers comparing what you put in and what you take out over the long term don’t exactly scream “financial home run.”

Ms. Odjick’s fine with that, because buying her home was a lifestyle decision. “If we’ve lived here for 25 years, even if it does end up costing money, then it will have been a great place to live.”

Are you a Canadian family that has made a financial decision to remain lifelong renters? If you would like to share your story, please send us an email

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Should you buy in the city, suburbs or country?

Buying your first home brings major lifestyle changes – sometimes even a dramatic change in scenery. That’s because homeownership involves taking an honest look at your lifestyle, priorities and goals, and then investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in that vision. One of the first things to consider: should you buy where you rent, or house-hunt farther afield?

 

What’s right for you – the city, burbs or country?

CITY SLICKING

There’s a reason why urban real estate comes with a price premium: excellent public transit, plenty of arts and cultural attractions, lots of dining options, and easy access to everything from medical services to gyms and green space. Steady demand translates into a real estate investment that will grow as you build equity in your property.

PROS
  • Car-free living is a breeze (car share services are everywhere, so there’s no need to stress whenever you do require wheels)
  • Greater employment opportunities
  • Shorter commute to work and play
CONSIDERATIONS
  • Less home for the same price compared with suburbs and rural areas
  • Condos may be the only affordable option if you want to live right in the city core
  • Less privacy, thanks to closer quarters and higher population density

SUBURBAN DREAMS

Is it any wonder that generations of parents have flocked to the burbs to raise their families? It’s here that the much-desired single-family detached house rules, with big backyards (picket fence optional), good schools and a higher proportion of households with kids – perfect for impromptu street hockey or tag. While new communities may be low on shops and services, it only takes a few years of growth before cafés and sushi are just a short drive away!

PROS
  • Lower housing costs mean you get more home for your real estate dollar
  • Daycare costs are often lower than in the city
  • Quieter than the city, yet less remote than rural areas
CONSIDERATIONS
  • Longer commute and higher commuting costs (gas, parking, commuter trains and so on)
  • Some newer suburbs may not be as walkable compared with the city
  • Fewer entertainment, dining and grocery options nearby, aside from big-box chains

COUNTRY LIVING

Fresh, clean air, room to roam, no one to bug you about your bonfire or backyard hens – what could be better, right? Rural living has always appealed to self-reliant types, and in recent years it’s gotten a boost from millennials seeking a more affordable and lower-stress lifestyle (although overall, more people are leaving the country for the city). If you work from home, you can skip the commute and spend the extra time relaxing – or picking up a back-to-the-earth side gig to supplement your income.

PROS
  • Lower housing costs and more outdoor space for kids, pets and gardens
  • Easy access to recreational forests and lakes
  • Better air quality
CONSIDERATIONS
  • More susceptible to extreme weather: potential to be snowed in; power outages can be more frequent and last longer
  • Longer commutes to work, errands, entertainment and medical appointments
  • Harder to make friends in a small, tight-knit community (TIP: Make it easier by joining a volunteer committee!)

Source: homeownership.ca 

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New financing rules could drive more consumers into more volatile mortgages

Proposed changes to mortgage rules may force some consumers to consider more volatile variable rate mortgages in order to qualify under a strict stress test proposed by Canada’s banking regulator.

Guidelines published by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions in July, which the agency is now receiving feedback on, would change the qualifying rules for uninsured mortgages in Canada — a less regulated segment of the market made up of consumers who have down payments of 20 per cent or more.

The rules under consideration would force consumers to qualify for loans based on the rate on their contract plus 200 basis points, a move that might lead some people into shorter term loans that have lower rates and are therefore easier to qualify for.

“It could be one of the unintended consequences,” said Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist with CIBC World Markets Inc., about the changes. Tal believes OSFI will modify its proposal before it is finalized and one of the factors under consideration could be how the rules might discourage Canadians from locking in their rates.

Rob McLister, the founder of ratespy.com, said the potential impact of the changes can be seen when examining the current yield curve, which shows longer term rates are still much higher. As an example, with the prime rate now 3.2 per cent and the average discount on a five-year variable rate mortgage around 65 basis points, that means those consumers would have to qualify based on a rate of 2.55 per cent plus 200 basis points or 4.55 per cent.

 

“Generally, the variable will be cheaper. Maybe the one-year or two years (even more so). We have people who can’t qualify because of 10 basis points. I think it will force at least 10 per cent of uninsured borrowers to look at shorter-term rates that have more risk,” said McLister, who notes the average five-year fixed rate mortgage is more like 3.19 per cent.

Those consumers looking for the safety of a five-year rate would end up having to qualify based on 5.19 per cent with the 64 extra basis points meaning they could get a larger loan by borrowing at short-term rates.

The Bank of Canada has raised its overnight lending rate twice in the last two months and may do so again in October. Such hikes, which affect variable-rate products that are tied to prime, are part of the risk that comes with a floating rate product.

CONVENTIONAL BORROWER

McLister said a typical conventional borrower would qualify for a home that’s about six per cent more expensive by choosing a lower more volatile variable, one- or two-year rate instead of a “safer” five-year fixed.

That assessment was based on latest median household income from Statistics Canada, average non-mortgage debt, a 30-year amortization and a 20 per cent down payment

The OSFI changes fly in the face of previous government policy, which had tried to entice people into longer-term products by making the qualifying easier.

Consumers with less than 20 per cent down on a mortgage and their loans backed by Ottawa already must qualify based on the five-year Bank of Canada qualifying rate of 4.84 per cent. That rule change was made in October, 2016 but previously those high-ratio borrowers could use the rate on their contract if they were locking in for five years or longer.

Robert Kavcic a senior economist with Bank of Montreal, said households in Toronto — currently facing rapidly declining sales and an average price correction of almost 25 per cent from the April peak, can withstand more rate increases but he agrees people on the fringe may turn to shorter-term money to get into the housing market.

“I think the goal is to make sure people can pay higher rates two or three years down the road,” said Kavcic.”It does sound like there is more caution (about proposed changes) given what is happening in the Toronto market.”

Source: Financial Post – Gary Marr gmarr@postmedia.com

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Proposed mortgage rules aim to reduce financial risk in Canada’s hot housing markets

Vancouver has one of the hottest housing markets in Canada. New mortgage rules proposed by OSFI aim to mitigate the financial risks.

New rules proposed by the federal government to curb financial risks associated with the country’s hot housing markets could make it more difficult to secure a mortgage.

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions’ new guidelines proposed Thursday include stress tests for uninsured mortgages — loans secured with a deposit of at least 20 per cent on the value of the home.

Those homebuyers will now have to show that they can withstand a two per cent increase on their contractual mortgage rate. This would apply to variable and fixed-rate mortgages, regardless of term.

Using a million-dollar home as an example, buyers looking to secure a mortgage with a 20 per cent down payment at a three per cent interest rate would have to prove they could pay up to $4,652 per month instead of the $3,786 on their contract — a difference of $866 per month.

The changes come as the Bank of Canada looks set to increase interest rates as soon as next week for the first time in seven years.

CANADA-HOUSING/

The B.C. and Ontario governments have been using different tactics to try to cool housing prices in major cities. (Mike Cassese/Reuters)

“Persistently low interest rates, record levels of household indebtedness, and rapid increases in house prices in certain areas of Canada (such as Greater Vancouver and Toronto), could generate significant loan losses if economic conditions deteriorate,” OSFI wrote in a public letter.

But those working in and studying the real estate market say those changes aren’t likely to make a difference, especially given that those uninsured mortgages tend to be less risky because owners have already proved they have access to capital for a down payment.

What experts say will have a greater effect on housing markets is the office’s proposal to ban co-lending arrangements, or bundled mortgages, that sidestep rules designed to clamp down on risky lending.

The regulator said it is considering “expressly prohibiting co-lending arrangements that are designed, or appear to be designed, to circumvent regulatory requirements.”

Fear of a housing bust

Reuters reported in January that regulated mortgage providers were teaming up with unregulated rivals to circumvent rules limiting how much mortgage providers can lend against a property.

The arrangements have proliferated as Canadian regulators tightened lending standards to shield borrowers in case a decade-long housing boom goes bust.

“Bundled” or co-lending agreements with an unregulated entity can enable lenders to offer combined mortgages worth up to 90 per cent of a property’s value. Under federal rules, regulated lenders in Canada are not allowed to lend more than 65 per cent of the value of a home to borrowers with bad or nonexistent credit records.

They also cannot lend more than 80 per cent of a property’s value — even to borrowers with solid credit — without obtaining government-backed insurance.

city of vancouver empty homes

B.C. recently implemented a tax on foreign homebuyers as part of an attempt to reduce real estate demand and prices. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Under rules rolled out last October, that insurance requires the banks to run income stress tests on borrowers.

“When you’re looking at excited housing markets, you’re really concerned about where the capital is coming from,” said Tsur Somerville, a senior fellow with UBC’s Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate.

“In terms of trying to cut down on the flow of capital in the housing, in particular in Toronto and Vancouver, cutting down on the bundling is probably the most important piece.”

Somerville guessed the intention behind the new regulations is likely a mix of wanting to cool those hot housing markets and mitigate risk in the financial sector.

Mortgage brokers concerned

Grant Thomas, founder and partner with The Mortgage Group, said he was concerned about the proposed changes — especially in big-city markets where homes often sell for millions of dollars.

Thomas said bundled mortgages are probably less than a third of all mortgages, but are often used when homeowners are financing the construction of a new home or are in between selling and buying a home.

Mortgage delinquency rates in Canada remain low even in cities like Toronto and Vancouver, he points out.

“The government has been intrusive in our industry in the last three years, and they continue to be so at a rate that is probably unnecessary,” he said.

“I’m not overjoyed whenever the government involves itself in business.”

Affordable housing in Nova Scotia.

Canadian regulators have tightened lending standards to shield borrowers in case a decade-long housing boom goes bust. (Robson Fletcher/CBC)

Thomas said his company and Mortgage Professionals Canada are planning to spend the next few days examining the proposed changes.

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions is accepting comments until Aug. 17. It said it will finalize the guidelines and set an effective date for implementation later in 2017.

The office said the proposed changes would be guidelines that federally regulated financial institutions would be expected to follow.

 

Source: Maryse Zeidler, CBC News

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