Yesterday, the CBC reported that the Bank of Montreal was suing several hundred people in an alleged mortgage fraud scam that might well be the largest of its kind ever reported in Canada….
Here are the highlights or lowlights…
- $140 million involved in this scheme.
- $70 million of which was phony mortgage money.
- BMO may lose $30 million.
- it is alleged that lawyers, mortgage brokers and even some BMO employees took part in this massive fraud.
LOOK AT THE APPRAISAL PROCESS
What’s interesting is that they mention the ‘desktop appraisal services’ in the article… this stood out for me… an appraisal has always been part of the credit underwriting process.. Lenders want to know their security or collateral is of good, marketable quality in case of default…. But with the goal of trying to do more with less, several Banks started offering clients so-called FREE APPRAISALS… that wasn’t entirely true…
Banks must demonstrate to their shareholders that they perform proper due diligence before granting credit. Rather than pay the $250 or $300 for a standard appraisal, we saw the introduction of a desktop appraisal… Imagine trying to look at a computer screen and try to determine the value of a property in downtown Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton or any other city where house prices vary from block to block… it’s almost impossible without visiting the property personally…
Hopefully, the senior management at the Banks and other mortgage lending institutions will review their credit adjudication process and realize that it’s worth paying $300 to get that peace of mind…
Playing devil’s advocate, the crooks can employ the services of a corrupt appraiser but most Lenders have an ‘Approved Appraiser’ list…. it’s more difficult to get a bad appraisal this way… ..
MORTGAGE FRAUD IS NOTHING NEW
Mortgage Fraud occurs regularly… it just doesn’t get reported often…that’s because the banks don’t want the bad publicity. It would be helpful to know if fraud is growing or slowing…. This latest report doesn’t sound like it’s slowing…
Just can’t leave this one alone…
The Globe and Mail ran a great article about the recent mortgage rate hikes by the Big Banks…..Seems like more of us are questioning the latest round of fixed rate increases….
The article gave some great stats that I wanted to share… First, we should point out that Fixed rates are affected by the Bond Market for the most part but Banks also raise money through GICs… Variable rates are affected by the Bank of Canada Key Lending Rate…. with that in mind…. here are the stats from the article….
10 YEAR AVERAGE…
- 5 yr Bond 4.05%
- Big Bank 5 yr posted fixed rate 6.75%
- Big Bank 5 yr GIC 3.31%
THIS WEEK’S NUMBERS…
- 5 yr Bond 3.02%
- Big Bank 5 yr posted fixed rate 6.25%
- Big Bank 5 yr GIC 2% to 2.1%
Has to make you wonder…?
I attended IMBA’s annual Mortgage Broker conference yesterday. IMBA is Ontario’s Mortgage Broker association. It was a good conference but it seemed to be a smaller crowd than in years past…..a result of the recession, I’m sure.
Nevertheless, it’s a great place to see all the Lenders and industry businesses in one location. I noticed a lot of smaller lenders were popping up and that’s a great sign for Borrowers as more competition is always good.
There were also lenders capitalizing on the new Mortgage Rules as CMHC tightened their lending policies earlier this week…. The smaller lenders fill a growing void for Canadians that want to buy an investment property or are self-employed and cannot provide traditional income verification. These lenders also signal improved confidence in the Canadian real estate market.
No surprise, the Bank of Canada did not raise their key rate today, keeping it at 0.25%. This rate directly affects the Bank Prime rate which is 2.25%. But as so many Economists have forecast, this appears to be the end of the record low Mortgage rates.
But it’s not that bad… we have enjoyed record low rates (almost free money, some would say) for well over a year.. and they are only starting to climb.. we’ll be enjoying low rates Variable rates for some time yet…
In it’s press release, the Bank of Canada stated “the need for such extraordinary policy is now passing, and it is appropriate to begin to lessen the degree of monetary stimulus. The extent and timing will depend on the outlook for economic activity and inflation, and will be consistent with achieving the 2 per cent inflation target.”
The big question on everyone’s mind is how fast and by how much will rates increase… Here’s what to look for when it comes to what affects Variable rates:
- Inflation (the target rate is 2% and we are currently at 1.6%…if this increases then the Bank of Canada will want to increase the Bank rate)
- unemployment (currently sitting at 8.2% if we have higher than expected unemployment then this also puts pressure to keep the Bank rate low
- Canadian $ in relation to the $U.S. (today, the Canadian $ jumped over $1.016 and a high $ is bad for Exports and Manufacturing….the higher the Bank Rate, the higher $ will usually increase)
Fixed rates are more volatile as they are affected by the Bond Market… The Bond Market seems to have priced in a 50bps increase by the Bank of Canada as Bond Yields increased by 0.126% to 3.19% at the time this article was written. The Banks have increased Mortgage Rates by 0.85% over the past 3 weeks and should hold until the Bond yields increase to above 3.40% or 3.50%….Historically, the Banks want to earn a spread of around 1.20% and 1.30%.
Royal Bank increased their fixed mortgage rates again by 0.25%….that’s an 0.85% increase in 2 weeks… Scotiabank increased their rates shortly afterwards. We can expect the other Major Banks to follow this latest increase.
What’s interesting about this move is that the bond market has not increased by the same amount…. On February 15th 2010, the 5 year Bond yield was 2.53%…today, it’s 3.08%….Mortgage Lenders and Banks want to earn a 1.20% to 1.30% spread in the wholesale mortgage market… Today’s best 5 year fixed rate mortgage is 4.39% but will increase to around 4.64%…. That puts the spread all the way up to a whopping 1.56%.
By the way, not all Lenders have increased their rates… there are still Lenders with rates in the 4.39% range but we should expect them to follow suit…