Archive for the ‘CMHC’ Category

What will the CMHC announce?

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Who wants to play ‘guess the future’?

Apparently the CMHC is holding a conference call at 10 am EST on Feb 27th.

Some rumours are saying privatization, though it looks like most everyone agrees that would extreeeeemely unlikely at this point for a few reasons:

-Privatization would require the finance department
-No one in their right mind would take on the debt

But that doesn’t mean you can’t guess at what is going to be revealed tomorrow!

So what do you think the CMHC will announce? Privatization? Tougher underwriting standards? Branching out into commemorative figurines? A new special expert task force comprised of Brad Lamb, Bob Rennie and Angelo Mozilo?

What’s your best guess at what the CMHC will announce tomorrow?

IMF says Canada should end CMHC insurance

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

In a surprising recommendation, the International Monetary Fund has suggested that Ottawa should do away with mortgage insurance offered by the CMHC (Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation).

The IMF concedes that the current system has its advantages for stability. But it says it also exposes the government, or taxpayers, to financial system risks and might distort the market as a whole in favour of mortgages over more productive uses of capital.

Huh, would any of you taxpayers miss insuring high risk mortgages?  By which we mean would you miss insuring MORE higher-risk mortgages, since there’s no way you can drop responsibility for the ones we already insure.

Read the full article here.

Canadian economy at risk from mounting mortgage debt

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Is anyone else getting tired of all the warnings?

Be careful how much debt you take on, be careful how much house you buy, make sure to save for retirement.

Well here’s another one: Stephen Harper has been told the entire countries economy is at risk due to record debt levels and the high cost of housing.

Municipalities are asking for the government to address high housing costs, but not everyone agrees.

… Finn Poschmann, vice-president of research at the think-tank C.D. Howe Institute, said Ottawa has “little jurisdiction and almost no practical capacity to deliver housing.”

“Past attempts to do so, through CMHC for example, have produced financial disasters for the people who participated and put CMHC in grave financial situation.” he said.

“We wouldn’t want to see that again, nor the federal mortgage agency deeply underwater and as similar U.S. agencies have been, through the course of much more recent financial disasters.”

Of course our current situation is that the CMHC has been pouring money into Mortgage Backed Securities to encourage buying, they recently had to cap this program because they couldn’t keep up with the growth.

It is likely that the government could reduce the cost of housing by simply pouring even less money into MBS.

CMHC tightens mortgage rules (again)

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Ottawa must really want to see more of a downturn in the Canadian housing market.

This week saw a new limit to CMHC largesse. The latest change limits guarantees on Mortgage Backed Securities which will slightly increase lending costs.

In the financial post Mortgage Brokers and Bankers differ on their opinion of the latest move, some think it’s too much too soon, others think it’s a minor tweak that will have no real effect.

Doug Porter, chief economist with Bank of Montreal, wonders if housing statistics over the last couple of months showing sales and prices rebounding might have spooked the CMHC.

“I think this step is being taken because we have seen some signs in recent weeks that the market is not cooling as much as had been expected,” said Mr. Porter. “All the debate has been whether we will have a soft or hard landing and I would question whether the market had any landing whatsoever.”

Read the full article in the Financial Post.

The popping of the Canadian bubble

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Another day another Canadian housing bubble story,  this one in the star.

Some of the themes may be familiar to you.

High debt loads,  out of whack ratios for debt to income and rent to buy variables.  Government guarantees.


Housing in Canada is unaffordable. International experts are unequivocal in their concern, and Canadian lawmakers are taking measures to deflate slowly rather than crash. Ironically, only Canadian homebuyers seem to think the market is sustainable. Sale prices are still rising. So when does it all start to unwind? Right about now.

Since the Great Recession, the Canadian economic model has basked in international reverence for its conservative banks and rich commodity sector. So when Wall Street rumblings about a Canadian housing bubble started becoming louder about a year ago, as a card-carrying Canadian, I took notice.

Read the full article here.

New mortgage rules affect first time buyers

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Remember when we saw all the fun the US was having with crazy long amortization terms and teaser cash-back zero down mortgages?

Oh yeah, we couldn’t be left out of that action!

That’s why in 2006 we cranked CMHC max amortization terms from 25 to 35 to 40 years. We got rid of any upper limit to insured mortgages and allowed zero down deals with interest only payments for the first 10 years.

It was the only way to compete with the Americans!

And now we hear that we’re supposed to be ‘responsible’ with our debts and ready for interest rate increases.

The government has been ramping back the gravy train over the last couple of years though, trying to engineer a ‘soft landing’ for the housing market.

And they’re succeeding, it keeps getting softer and softer.

So now we’re back to the 25 year cap. Everything old is new again.

And apparently reducing amortizations is starting to have an effect on first time buyers causing some to wait:

First-time homebuyers were expected to be the most affected by the new rules, which included reducing the maximum amortization period for a government-insured mortgage from 30 to 25 years, and also dropping the upper limit that Canadians could borrow against their home equity from 85 per cent to 80 per cent.

A year later, about 66 per cent of buyers said the changes had not affected their timeline on buying a first home, according to a survey by BMO Bank of Montreal.

But first-time buyers in B.C., where Vancouver prices were considered particularly overheated, were most likely (33 per cent) to say they would wait longer to buy their first home. That compares to 11 per cent of Ontario buyers, 25 per cent in the Prairies and 28 per cent in Atlantic Canada.

read the full article over at the CBC.

Canadian Bubble? Blame the CMHC

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation insures nearly $600 billion worth of mortgage insurance.  That’s almost one third of the national GDP.

Much of the discussion about what’s wrong with the housing market focuses on the CMHC, which now counts as one of the country’s largest financial companies, owing to its substantial portfolio of mortgage guarantees covering nearly $600-billion of outstanding home loans, roughly 30% of Canada’s GDP.

Critics say the CMHC is under-charging for its policies, which has opened the door for housing speculators and enabled banks to push the risk of default on hundreds of billions of dollars of mortgages onto the shoulders of government — bottom line, the CMHC is the primary cause of the bubbly market.

In each Annual Report from 1976 onwards, reference has been made to the diminishing viability of the corporation

Read the full article over at the Province for an interesting overview of the history and potential problems faced by the CMHC.


Risk Management Experience? The CMHC needs your help.

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

We’ve talked recently about the shift in management over at the CMHC.

Bloomberg has an article about the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation seeking a CEO with risk management experience.

Canada’s housing agency said it’s seeking a president and chief executive officer with risk management experience to oversee its C$563 billion ($544 billion) mortgage insurance portfolio.

The next CEO should have “knowledge of the financial management requirements, particularly risk management, of a large financial services organization,” Canada Mortgage & Housing Corp. said today in an advertisement in the Globe and Mail newspaper.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said last month the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions will continue to monitor CMHC “very closely,” because it must operate like the country’s largest lenders. The government-backed agency, which had C$563 billion of insurance in force at the end of March, covers most Canadian mortgages and helps commercial lenders securitize home loans.

Read the full article here.

Hat tip to VMD.

More shifts in CMHC management

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Things seem to be changing over at the CMHC.

The Financial Post says some upper management have been leaving or plan to leave.

First they brought in Robert P. Kelley as the new chairman, now they’ve confirmed the VP of insurance underwriting has left with no reason given.

Chief Executive Karen Kinsley has also announced plans to leave.

Why are all these changes happening now?

Speculation has been rife that agency could be set for more dramatic changes since it is now under the auspices of the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions. Jim Flaherty, the finance minister, has also discussed privatizing parts of the agency.

Good luck with the privatizing Jim.

Will the banks have to bail out the CMHC?

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Banks in Canada get a lot of protection.

One thing that helps drive profit is CMHC mortgage insurance.

Wouldn’t it be great to make an investment where you got the profit and somebody else took over the risk?

The unfortunate side effect of this economic boosting is the the spectre of taxpayer liability for housing bubble fallout.

But what if the banks bailed out the CMHC after being bailed out by the CMHC?

Sounds a bit like a perpetual motion machine but that’s what BMO analyst John Reucassel is suggesting could happen if the CMHC went bust:

“It appears to us that the CMHC is reasonably well capitalized and positioned to meet the challenges from a housing slowdown.  However, investors may be concerned that, in a severe downturn, Canadian banks may either a) need to recapitalize the CMHC; or b) absorb some of the losses.”

Read the full article over at the Financial Post.

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