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Are desperate homebuyers being pushed into sidestepping Canadian mortgage rules in favour of shadier methods of financing? Some Canadians may be having a harder time buying a home due to the change in mortgage rules last year.

Now that the Bank of Canada has raised the overnight rate, and new federal mortgage rules have made it that much harder for customers looking for short-term mortgages, home renovation loans, or debt consolidations, many homebuyers or home refinancers may be forced to consider turning to riskier alternatives for financing their home.

Canada’s financial watchdog is advising regulated subprime mortgage providers to avoid partnerships with unregulated providers who may skirt the rules that were put in place to end risky lending in the first place! The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) recently suggested banning co-lending arrangements, or bundled mortgages, that sidestep rules designed to stamp out risky lending.

Lenders can offer combined mortgages worth up to 90 percent of a property’s value with a “bundled loan” or co-lending agreement with an unregulated rival. However, federal rules prohibit regulated lenders from lending more than 65 percent of the value of a home to borrowers with bad or no credit. They also can’t lend more than 80 percent even to borrowers with good credit without government-backed insurance.

However, with “bundled loans”, lenders can offer borrowers up to 90%, circumventing rules on how much mortgage providers can lend against a property. As Canadian regulators tighten lending standards to shield borrowers in case a decade-long housing boom goes bust, these arrangements have increased in number.

Under Canadian mortgage rules, all high-ratio insured homebuyers are required to take a ‘stress test’ to qualify for mortgage insurance at a rate that is greater than their contract mortgage rate or the Bank of Canada’s conventional five-year fixed posted rate. With the rising level of debt amongst Canadian consumers and the rising costs of houses, this means more people may not qualify for a mortgage and choose risky lending alternatives. Now, the OSFI is proposing requiring stress tests for all uninsured mortgages and adjusting maximum lending amounts for local market conditions.

Are buyers with poor or no credit left with no choice but “bundled loans”? Do they put Canada’s real estate market at risk? Are the new rules helping at all, and if so, how? As a real estate professional, tell us how the recent changes to Canadian mortgage rules and rate increases have changed the way you do business. Join the conversation @GeoWarehouse.

To learn more about the tools and resources available with a GeoWarehouse subscription, visit www.geowarehouse.ca.

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