Category Archives: CMHC

We want a nice housing bubble

I’m so sick of hearing realtors and mortgage brokers complain about the new CMHC rules.

The government isn’t really bringing in some tough new restrictions, they’re simply rolling back some of their bubble incentives.

The Feds clearly wanted to juice housing and that’s what they got.

Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney says the No. 1 risk to the Canadian economy is a housing bubble. Good grief! How on earth did rock-stable, good-banking, solid-regulating Canada end up on the edge of a possible real estate crisis? Simple. In Canada as elsewhere, housing is a political business policymakers find irresistible. There’s always some government policy — low interest rates, first-time home-buyer incentives, high-ratio mortgages, mortgage insurance, capital gains exemptions, interest deductibility — available to government agencies to bolster the feel-good business of home ownership.

It’s a global phenomenon, from Ireland to Spain, from Britain to the United States. Housing bubbles — rocketing prices following by plummeting prices — are not new to the world economy. The last decade, however, has left an unprecedented trail of housing price chaos and disaster. The similarities from one country to another are unmistakable.

We saw what was happening in the states, and still the government moved amorts from 30 to 40 years and flooded the housing market with money. Where did they expect this to lead?

No more 30 year mortgages.

..well that headline is a little misleading, you’ll still be able to get a 30 year mortgage but you better have a big down payment. No more 30 year mortgages for CMHC insured mortgages.

The country’s biggest banks were caught off guard on Wednesday night as the Department of Finance prepared to clamp down on mortgages by reducing the maximum amortization for a government-insured mortgage to 25 years from 30.

Ottawa will also limit the amount of equity that can be borrowed against a home to 80 per cent of the property’s value, down from 85 per cent.

The moves are designed to cool the housing market and limit the record levels of personal debt Canadians have amassed in recent years. Figures from Statistics Canada show the average ratio of debt-to-disposable income climbed to 152 per cent, up from 150.6 per cent at the end of 2011. A rise in interest rates or further job losses could put some households at financial risk, endangering any economic recovery.

So we’ve come circle with mortgages going from 25 year, cranked all the way up to US bubble style zero-down 40 year mortgages and then ramped back down over the last few years to a maximum 25 year amort. It will be very interesting to see what this does to some of Canadas overpriced markets.

Mortgage brokers warn about new rules

Canadian mortgage brokers are freaking out about new refinancing rules proposed by the OSFI which has taken over responsibility for the CMHC. Reasonably enough, they’re asking for clarification about proposals to require banks to check income and current house value before refinancing.

Currently, when mortgages come up for renewal, banks tend to focus on the borrower’s payment history. They rarely appraise the property again and not all banks will check the borrower’s updated income level, Mr. Murphy said.

“CAAMP strongly recommends that this concept be clarified so that mortgages continue to be renewed at maturity without requalification,” the industry association said in a submission to the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI).

“If not, homeowners who have been in compliance may no longer qualify. This would result in a number of properties hitting the market at the same time and thereby driving down prices.”

Such a phenomenon could add further fuel to a real estate downturn if lower house prices and higher unemployment caused more people to lose their homes upon renewal, Mr. Murphy suggested.

Read the full article in the Globe and Mail.

CMHC gets a bit weird

Here’s a couple of recent stories about Canada’s Housing Agency:  First off there’s the news that the government seems to be trying to figure out how to distance themselves from it, maybe by selling it off:

Anyone trying to understand the concern over a potential housing bubble in Canada need look no further than the debate among government officials over whether to exit the mortgage insurance business.

The board of Canada Mortgage & Housing Corp. considered selling the home loan insurer last year, according to former Chairman Dino Chiesa, who’s term ended in March. CMHC, set up in 1946 to promote home ownership, also studied the sale of Australia’s government-owned insurer and presented the findings to the Bank of Canada, according to documents released to Bloomberg News under Canada’s Access to Information Act.

Here’s the full article.

But of course the CMHC is also saying they see ‘no sign of a market bubble’.

While the report did not make specific reference to the government’s changes in the oversight of CMHC, it did offer what could be characterized an strong validation of its role and operations.

“CMHC follows prudential regulations as set out by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, with CMHC maintaining more than twice the minimum capital required by OSFI,” it said. “As a result, CMHC is well positioned to weather possible severe economic scenarios.”

The report also highlighted the important role CMHC plays in the housing market, which it said accounted for 20%, or $346-billion, of Canada’s gross domestic product last year. It pointed out the agency “manages its mortgage loan insurance and securitization guarantee operations using sound business practices that ensure commercial viability without having to rely on the government of Canada for support.”

Here’s that article.

 

Who to blame for housing bubble? Government.

So if there’s a housing bubble in Canada who is to blame? Some people blame foreign buyers, some people blame local buyers. Some people think sellers are to blame and some people think the government is to blame. From the National Post:

Many analysts are becoming increasingly concerned that some cities — notably Toronto, Vancouver and possibly Calgary — are in the midst of their own U.S.-style housing bubble. A document written by the country’s financial regulator and obtained earlier this year through an access to information request, expresses concern over the “emerging risk” of Canadian loans that “have some similarities to non-prime loans in the U.S. retail lending market.” Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney continued tosound the alarm as well last week over the growing level of household debt, while maintaining the overnight lending rate at a near-record low level of 1%.

The question remains as to why prices in Toronto and Vancouver — where the economy is stagnant — are rising so fast, and not in cities like Edmonton and Saskatoon — where the economy, and population, is booming.

Read the rest of the article here.