Category Archives: debt

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.

The new lending guidelines

Those new OSFI guidelines for CMHC mortgages are still ‘coming soon’, but the Vancouver Sun has an article up outlining the current state of the guidelines and predicting they will be announced in the next few weeks.

They’ve softened some since the first concepts floated out there by OSFI, but as a batch of changes that occur all at once they still stand to have a marked impact on the market.

Here’s the list of predicted new guidelines:

. Home Equity Line of Credit mortgages reduced from 80-per-cent financing to 65-per-cent financing.

. Lines of credit to be either amortized, or amortized after a specified period of time (no more never-never plans).

. More stringent income requirements for self-employed borrowers.

. All mortgages to be reviewed upon renewal (currently as long as payments are made, it is unlikely for a bank not to offer a renewal to a client).

. Funds from cashback mort-gages are not allowed as a source of down payment (currently only a handful of lenders allow this, but it does mean that “zero down” mortgages are technically avail-able, but with some restrictions.)

. Use of the five-year posted “benchmark” to qualify uninsured terms of one to four years and all variable terms (currently most lenders use a three-year posted or a lower rate to qualify uninsured mortgage.)

. More limits on underwriting exceptions (many recent applications don’t fit the ever shrinking “boxes” with the banks, which means fewer common-sense deals will get approved.)

. Home insurance to be included in debt-servicing ratios (it is currently not included.)

. More public disclosure of statistics pertaining to institutions’ mortgage practices.

. More accountability from management to ensure lenders are adhering to their underwriting guidelines.

If these changes are implemented I guess we’re going to find out how much of our real estate market is supported by those who are stretching beyond their means.

TD: Toronto & Vancouver face 15% decline

It seems like one of these bank economist forecasts come out every week, but TD is calling for a 15% decline in house prices here and in Toronto over the next couple of years.

“There have been growing signs that the markets have been tilting towards excess supply of new multiples,” the bank said.

Indeed, condo prices in both cities have shown signs of slowing down much more than the price of single-family homes, the usual benchmark of a market’s overall health.

“In fact, looking at the trend in condo prices, you can see there has been essentially no increase in prices since the federal government first began tightening mortgage rules in mid-2008,” the economists said.

So if the average selling price on a Vancouver single family home is already down 12% year over year and the outlook for condos looks worse… maybe not the best time to buy a presale condo eh?

One bubble down, one to go

The Vancouver real estate slow down is making news all over and people are now wringing their hands over Toronto.

This Financial Post article talks about our bloating inventory and collapsing sales while pointing out that Toronto sales are up 11% year over year.

..and yes, there’s yet another warning from the Bank of Canada:

“Although economic growth in Canada was slightly slower than expected in the first quarter, underlying economic momentum appears largely consistent with expectations. However, the composition of growth is less balanced. In particular, housing activity has been stronger than expected, and households continue to add to their debt burden in an environment of modest income growth.”

The warning is apt. Rosenberg said if the Bank of Canada felt the need to re-establish parity between short-term rates and its inflation target it would have to raise the rate 100 basis points.

“That wouldn’t cause a recession, but it sure would be painful for many households,” leading to more loan defaults and less spending growth.

If you can’t afford a 100 basis point increase in rates you probably shouldn’t be taking on too much debt.

Vancouver Real Estate: listings up, sales down

Over at the CBC there’s an article about the ‘uncertain fate’ of Vancouver real estate.

Vancouver’s real estate market has taken another interesting turn, with listings up and sales down during what is usually a busy time of year.

In May, average prices for houses have dropped about $150,000 compared to one year ago. That 12-per-cent drop wiped out two years of price increases.

The reason appears to be that too many more sellers are trying to cash in at the same time. Listings are up by 23 per cent, but fewer are buying: sales are down 24 per cent.

“Probably, on average, about a 150 or 160 homes in Vancouver are reducing their price every day in the hope of catching, getting ahead of the train and maybe get out before they can’t,” said realtor Larry Yatkowsy.

Larry is an interesting fellow, he seems to change opinions frequently, but isn’t it in most realtors interest to get sellers to lower listing prices to make a sale?