Archive for the ‘mortgage’ Category

Poloz: higher rates for housing a bad idea

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz says it’s a ‘bad idea‘ to raise interest rates to combat imbalances in housing and consumer debt as that would only hurt manufacturers and the general economy.

“Housing activity is showing renewed momentum and consumer debt levels are high, so household imbalances appear to be edging higher,” he said. “But it is our judgment that our policy of aiming to close the output gap and ensuring inflation remains on target will be consistent with an eventual easing in those household imbalances.”

Changes in Canada’s population justify growth in the housing market, and Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary are the only three cities showing signs of overbuilding, Poloz said at a press conference.

Canada’s dollar extended declines after the speech and as crude oil, one of the nation’s main exports, fell below $80 a barrel. The currency fell 0.9 percent to C$1.1357 against the U.S. dollar at 3:15 p.m. in Toronto.

It may be just a crazy idea, but if the government actually wanted to do something about house prices and consumer debt, wouldn’t eliminating mortgage insurance do that without any change in rates?

Should banks take on more risk?

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

There’s an article over at the CBC on the CMHC and CEO Evan Siddall.

Mr. Siddall is of the opinion that the CMHC should not be privatized as it acted as a ‘shock absorber’ during the last correction, but does think the banks should take on a share of the risk for insured mortgages.

“That ultimately will be a decision for government to make and we’re in the process of looking at different options that will take a few years to evaluate, but the idea is that people should have skin in the game,”

“In the insured mortgage businesses, the banks offload all that risk to the government through CMHC, The government’s interested in taking a reduced role in the housing market … so we’ll look at different ways to share risks with lenders.

What do you think, should the CMHC force banks to take on more responsibility for the insured loans they hand out or would the banks just use that as an excuse to charge more?

Read the full article here.

CMHC considers sharing risk with banks

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

The CEO of the CMHC is saying that although some Canadian house prices are certainly too high, they aren’t worried about a market collapse at this point.

One option they are considering as a way to help cool an overheated market is sharing mortgage loan risk with the banks that are handing out loans.

The mortgage insurance that CMHC and its two competitors sell repays banks when consumers default on their mortgages. At the moment it makes the banks whole. The OECD has called for changes to the system to ensure that lenders take on more of the risk. In other countries with mortgage insurance, the product tends to only cover 10 to 30 per cent of the losses. In his speech, Mr. Siddall said that CMHC is evaluating “risk-sharing with lenders to further confront moral hazard” and is advising the government about its thoughts.

Read the full article here.

Hat-tip to southseacompany.

TD outgoing CEO wants tighter lending rules

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Ed Clark is the CEO of Canada’s 2nd largest lender: TD Bank, but he’s heading out in November.

He has some interesting things to say about mortgage lending in Canada:

“It’s just not realistic in a competitive marketplace to say, ‘Why doesn’t one bank lead the way and change the rules?’ It won’t happen. This is a responsibility of the government,” he told Reuters.

“I get why they keep worrying about doing it. But I think you have to just keep touching this brake. As long as you run low interest rates, you then should be continuously leaning against asset bubbles.”

Why is it not realistic for an individual bank to change lending rules? Because they would be the chump to leave money on the table.  If your business had an oppourtunity for income which the government would insure against loss, how much sense would it make to not take advantage of that business?

And you’ve got to love this seemingly prerequisite paragraph that comes next in all of these articles:

Canada’s Conservative government has stepped in four times since 2008 to tighten mortgage lending rules to cool a real estate market that flourished as the financial crisis ebbed.

It is accurate to say that the government has stepped in four times since 2008 to tighten mortgage lending rules, but it omits the change before 2008. For those of you just tuning in they look something like this:

•March ’06: CMHC change to allow 0% down, 30 year Amort.

•June ’06: Allow 35 year amort & interest only payments for 10 yrs

•Nov. ’06: Aw heck, lets go all out and allow 40 year amorts!

•April ’07: Insured min. down payment moved from 25% to 20%

•Oct. ’08: 5% down allowed, amort moved back to 35 years

•April ’10: Require approval at 5 year fixed rate

•March ’11: Drop back down to 30 year amorts.

•July ’12: Drop back down to 25 year amorts.

Shouldn’t we take into account how much gas was applied before we started tapping the brakes?

Household debt near record high

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Southseacompany pointed out this article in the Chicago Tribune:

Canadian household-debt ratio nears record as mortgages grow

“Home sales and prices have shown unexpected strength as the lowest mortgage rates in decades spur demand. ”

“With mortgage debt rising, the economy will be exposed when interest rates rise, said Andy Nasr, senior portfolio manager at Calgary-based Middlefield Capital Corp. which manages about C$4 billion ($3.6 billion), including real estate stocks.

“The misconception is that ‘Well it’s OK because people can somehow afford it,’” he said in an interview at Bloomberg’s Toronto office Friday. “They can’t.””

CMHC decides to share more info

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is the crown corporation that backs the majority of Canadian mortgage products.  They have recently decide to magnanimously share more info about the Canadian mortgage market:

The changes in the CMHC’s disclosure come after some economists had demanded CMHC share more of its information about the market. Among them was CIBC deputy chief economist Benjamin Tal who published a report suggesting that the lack of market information makes its harder to get an accurate picture of the stability of the market.

Read the full article in the Financial Post.

Dirt cheap rates, limited time offer

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

The Investors Group is making waves with a 1.99% 3 year variable mortgage.

Here’s a story about it over at the CBC.

The offer comes with strings attached — namely that you can’t break the mortgage for any fee during the three-year term, unless you sell your home. But the offer does come with the ability to double up monthly payments, or pay a 15 per cent lump sum once a year.

In real dollar terms, it could knock a lot of money off a mortgage payment, at least over the short term. A standard 25-year $500,000 mortgage at a five-year rate of 2.99 per cent works out to $2,364 a month. That mortgage under IG’s new terms would be $2,115 a month — savings of $249 monthly, at least for the first three years, and as long as the variable rate doesn’t increase.

This is from ‘the first one’s free’ school of marketing.  It looks like Investors Group is willing to lose money on mortgages in order to make it up with more business in the future.

It will be interesting to see if offers like this give a bump to the market and to see where we are with rates in 3 years.

New CMHC rules: How much impact?

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

At first glance the new CMHC rules sounds like a minor tweak rather than a major change, and it might be just that.

When the CMHC announced the change they specified that the products being eliminated made up less than 3% of their insured mortgage products by number of mortgages.  What we haven’t seen anywhere are numbers in mortgage value, and BOM pointed this out yesterday:

Read this:

“The Crown corporation has been offering insurance on second homes since 2005. It has been offering insurance to self-employed people without strong income validation since 2007.”

And then read this:

“CMHC says its second home program and its self-employed-without-third-party-income-validation programs combined account for less than 3 per cent of its insurance business volumes in term of the numbers of mortgages insured.”

CHMC has a pool of mortgages insured accumulated over the last 25 years. They have only offered the products they are cancelling for 7 to 9 years but they make up 3% of that pool. Simple math indicates over the last 7 years about 10% of mortgages would have been part of the program they are cancelling otherwise it could never reach 3% of the total pool which was already significant prior to the program starting.

So how much demand was there for insured mortgages on second homes and mortgages for the self employed without income verification?  The numbers may be higher than we first thought.

CMHC: One home is enough?

Monday, April 28th, 2014

The CMHC has just ‘tightened’ their mortgage regulations again.

You might not have know that the CMHC would provide mortgage insurance on second homes, but they won’t anymore:

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. is cutting the types of mortgage insurance it offers, meaning the era of tighter rules for home buyers hasn’t come to an end.

The Crown corporation said late Friday it will stop insuring mortgages on second homes, effective May 30. Anyone who has an insured mortgage will no longer be able to act as a co-borrower on another mortgage that CMHC insures. In addition, it will stop offering mortgage insurance to self-employed people who don’t have standard documents to prove their income.

Gotta love that first sentence: The era of tighter rules hasn’t come to an end?  I guess by tighter rules they mean doing away with the most absurdist bubble policies in the form of zero down 40 year mortgages.

What’s next? Banks not being able to offload risk for mortgage lending?

Here’s the amazing bit for those just tuning in:

The Crown corporation has been offering insurance on second homes since 2005. It has been offering insurance to self-employed people without strong income validation since 2007.

Remember NINJA loans in the states?  Good thing we never had those here!

Saving is hard.

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

One of the great things about the Vancouver housing market is that we don’t have subprime lending.  All of our loans are rock solid and even if they weren’t guaranteed by the government banks would still be eager to hand out the same mortgages.

And yet..

If there’s one thing Vancouverites know, it’s that saving money is difficult.

So what are you to do as a responsible first time home buyer who is unable to save up the hefty 5% required to get a CMHC insured mortgage?

Don’t worry, at least one bank has your back: Vancity will match half your downpayment savings on a home priced under $500k.

Still that’s not exactly zero down, since the CMHC scrapped that in 2008, but if saving up 2.5% is still too difficult you may have other options.

But remember, unless you have a poor credit rating this still isn’t subprime.

Apparently it’s gotten harder to get the long term zero down mortgage the CMHC made available in the past, but not impossible.

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