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BIG SIX BANKS exposed and called out by Financial Consumer Agency of Canada!

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The BIG SIX BANKS have been caught. For those who still think the banker is your friend and is only looking out for your best interests, guess again. They’re in the business of selling and making money. The FCAC has finally reported what Financial Experts have known for years!

This report was recently released… but I wonder how soon it will be forgotten? And how much media attention will this important story really get?

Don’t forget, the BIG SIX BANKS are among the Top 10 Largest and most profitable corporations in Canada. They spend billions in marketing each year. That sort of advertising budget can make us forget about these types of announcements.

Continue reading “BIG SIX BANKS exposed and called out by Financial Consumer Agency of Canada!”

Review your mortgage NOW! Next year may be too late.

It’s begun.  The message is starting to sink in.  The new mortgage rules could eliminate 15% of Canadians from qualifying for a mortgage after January 1st, 2018.  The mad rush has started as mortgage inquiries are up significantly.

WHO WILL BE AFFECTED?

  • Anyone that has a mortgage renewal in next 12 to 20 months.
  • Anyone thinking of buying in the next 12 months.
  • Anyone that is needs or is thinking of refinancing their mortgage in the next 12 months.
  • Rental property owners.  Yes, you too.
  • Future retirees with lots of home equity (newsflash..the new rules don’t take into consideration how much equity you have in your home.. your net worth is also irrelevant… it’s all about how much income you earn and declare…)

All of these borrowers will be affected.  If you’re not getting the message, anyone with a mortgage should be getting a review done NOW.  Don’t wait until next year.  You may not qualify for a mortgage.

EXPECT HOME SALES TO SPIKE UP TEMPORARILY Continue reading “Review your mortgage NOW! Next year may be too late.”

OSFI announces strictest mortgage rules ever… what you need to know.

HARDER TO QUALIFY WITH 50% DOWN THAN WITH 5% DOWN.. DOES THIS MAKE SENSE?

October 2016, our Federal govt announced a number of new mortgage rules including the infamous new ‘stress test’ for all insured mortgages.  Mortgage default insurance is required for all mortgages greater than 80% loan to value.  You have to qualify at the bank posted 5 yr fixed rate, which is usually around 1.75% to 2.00% higher than your actual rate, and with a maximum amortization of 25 yrs max.

These ‘rules’ were brought in last year to protect us from ourselves.   To ensure we could handle any large interest rate hikes at renewal time.  Sort of like big brother watching over us to make sure we don’t borrow more than we can afford. (btw, we already had lending rules in Canada.  Our mortgage arrears were and still are at record low levels.   Seems like our Banks, credit unions and other lenders are doing a pretty good job of lending.  Is more govt intervention necessary?  Most experts say no.)

Today, Jeremy Rudin, OSFI Superintendent, joined the party…. well, more like rained all over ever Canadian homeowner’s party (current and future).   OSFI, not wanting to be left out, announced they would impose more mortgage rule tightening for all mortgages that were UNDER 80% loan to value.    Again, to protect us from ourselves just in case interest rates should sky rocket at your renewal time.   Here’s a summary of the changes and how they will impact consumers, homeowners, and the real estate market:

  • A new minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages.  The ‘stress test rate’ will be your contract rate + 2.00% or the 5 yr posted fixed rate, whichever is greater.(that’s right, your may have to qualify at a higher rate than those with insured mortgages above 80% loan to value.. how does that make sense?)
  • Federally regulated financial institutions must establish and adhere to appropriate Loan to value limits that are reflective of risk and updated as housing markets and the economic environment evolve (yeah, I’m not quite sure what this one means either.. stay tuned)
  • Federally regulated financial institutions are prohibited from arranging with another lender a mortgage, or combination of a mortgage and other lending products, in any form that circumvents the institution’s maximum Loan to value ratio or other limits in its residential mortgage underwriting policy. (this has dire consequences for those that won’t meet this historic new ‘stress test’.. effectively, the govt is telling you to not buy a home if you don’t fit in this new shrinking qualifying box…. or sell your home if you need to access the equity..)

 

HOW THIS AFFECTS YOU

  • buying with less than 20% down payment, no effect.  You already have a ‘stress test’.
  • buying with more than 20% down and you’ll have to pass a tougher test, that’s right, a tougher test than those with less than 20% down.  (Make any sense to you?  me neither.)
  • around another 15% of homeowners will NO longer qualify for a mortgage regardless of it being a purchase or if you wanted to refinance.
  • expect rental, condos or houses to become way more expensive as demand will spike.
  • we’ll see a spike in real estate sales from now until Jan 1st as homebuyers will scramble to get in prior to the new rules taking effect.
  • most credit unions are provincially regulated and for now, won’t be affected..  (that could change if the provinces amend their rules)

 

POSSIBLE SOLUTION TO DISCOURAGE HOME SPECULATORS BUT ENCOURAGE HOME OWNERSHIP

If you want to discourage speculators, make them hold the property for 5 or 7 years.  Bring in a declining speculation tax for anyone that sells a non-owner occupied home in less  than 5 years.  Reward those that hold real estate for longer periods.  You’ll have less transactions.  Encouraging longer holding times, more rental units on the market and higher vacancies.  More rental supply will also resolve high rents.  Bring back more realistic mortgage qualifying guidelines.  Encourage and promote buying investment properties.

A year ago, the Federal govt made several rule changes that effectively made it more expensive and difficult for consumers to borrow.  The list of changes was so long that most Canadians didn’t bother to react because it didn’t affect them that day.  But as we are seeing now, more consumers are experiencing reduced access to mortgage money.   They can’t refinance their mortgage.  They can’t draw on their built up equity in their homes.  It’s only when you need to borrow do you realize the extent of the changes.  Each and every one of us will be impacted.   These new policies will only make home ownership more difficult.  It will also slow our economy.

Perhaps the credit unions can pick up the slack and help …  stay tuned.. there will be more to share on these changes.     One thing is for certain.  You need to speak with an experienced Mortgage broker to understand what your options are.  It’s almost impossible to go it alone.. and you don’t have to.  Mortgage Brokers work for you, not the Bank.  They have access to dozens of competing lenders.

Your best interest is my only interest.   I reply to all questions and I welcome your comments.  Like this article?  Share with a friend.

Steve Garganis 416 224 0114 steve@mortgagenow.ca

Poloz in, Carney out as Bank of Canada Governor…3 major changes in less than a year!! Anyone else find this strange??!.

Poloz, Carney, Flaherty Stephen Poloz was announced as Mark Carney’s replacement as the new Bank of Canada Governor.  The announcement was a surprise for many… Most thought the Deputy Governor, Tiff Macklem, would have been a more likely candidate.  But Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, chose Poloz…. probably because he shares the same vision as Flaherty…  tighter lending rules, higher rates.. etc..

But this article isn’t about why Poloz is in, and Macklem is out.   I want to bring something else to your attention.   Did you know that we have had 3 major changes in less than 6 months?   Mark Carney is leaving Canada to head the Bank of England.   Then, within 6 months, the head of OSFI, Julie Dickson, announced she will be leaving in 2014.   And now Karen Kinsley, CEO of CMHC, has announced she is stepping down.  I’ll add in a fourth.. Robert P. Kelly has come in as Chairperson of CMHC… You’ll need to read this to understand why this is relevant.

These are major changes folks.  OSFI, CMHC and the Bank of Canada Governor.   3 major players that run and regulate Canada’s Financial and Banking sectors.  Has anyone asked why  they are all leaving now? Continue reading “Poloz in, Carney out as Bank of Canada Governor…3 major changes in less than a year!! Anyone else find this strange??!.”

CMHC CEO Karen Kinsley out, Wall Street banker Robert Kelly in… anybody asking why??

Karen Kinsley Karen Kinsley has been with CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) for 25 years.  The last 10 as it’s CEO.  CMHC makes buying a home more affordable by insuring the mortgage against default.  End result is a lower down payment requirement and lower interest rates.   CMHC is profitable.  They earned $1.7 billion in 2012 and $17 billion over the last 10 years.

In 2012, the Federal govt and the Minister of Finance decided to move CMHC under OSFI (Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions).   OSFI is a regulatory body that provides regulation and supervision to 152 Banks, Trust companies and other Lenders.   They function like auditors.  A move questioned by many and one that contradicts the spirit of what CMHC is supposed to stand for.

Enter Robert P. Kelly.  Mr. Kelly was appointed as Chairperson of the Board of Directors of CMHC this same month.  Coincidence?  Here’s a bit of history on Robert KellyKelly….He worked at TD Bank from 1981 to 2000 leaving as a senior executive that was on the short list to be TD’s CEO.. he didn’t get the job and left for the U.S. to join Wachovia, then later Bank of New York Mellon as CEO and Chairman.  I remember Mr. Kelly from my days working at TD.  He was always a higher profile, more visible executive…  Continue reading “CMHC CEO Karen Kinsley out, Wall Street banker Robert Kelly in… anybody asking why??”

Top Banking regulator stepping.. OSFI’s Julie Dickson leaving in 2014

Julie Dickson Julie Dickson, the head of OSFI (Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions) will not be back when her term expires in July 2014.  She’s decided to not to stick around after making more lending rule changes in 2012, than I have ever seen, during my entire 23 year career working in financial services.   OSFI is a regulatory body that provides regulation and supervision to 152 Banks, Trust companies and other Lenders.   In short, they are auditors.  Here’s a link to the major changes made just last year including putting CMHC under OSFI control.. more on that later..

Some say her claim to fame is that she was in charge during the worst banking and mortgage crises in history.  And that Canada came out of this global financial collapse way better than any other country.   It’s true, we did come out of this very well compared with the rest of the world…   But what does Ms. Dickson and OSFI have to do with it?  For me, this had more to do with luck, govt intervention and Canadians being our normal conservative selves.   We were a little slower to adapt to U.S. style lending policies… Ask any financial expert and they will tell you we were just a few years behind the U.S. with regards to their wild mortgage lending guidelines… Continue reading “Top Banking regulator stepping.. OSFI’s Julie Dickson leaving in 2014”

HELOC’s capped at 65% but some exceptions still apply..

Earlier this month marked the beginning of the end of 80% loan to value HELOCs.   Several Banks and of the Financial Institutions began to cut back the maximum LTV from 80% to 65% as per OSFI’s regulations.   But there are a few loopholes in the new rules….

  • The good news is that existing HELOC clients don’t have to worry.. these changes don’t apply to them.  OSFI is allowing them to keep their HELOCs at 80%….
  • Only OSFI regulated Financial Institutions are affected… Provincially regulated FI’s aren’t affected… Credit Unions don’t fall under OSFI’s rule…  there are still some Credit Unions offering HELOCs to 75% and even 80% loan to value.
  • Some of the Banks are still offering a combination of a HELOC and a mortgage of up to 80% ltv as long at you have at least 15% of your balance in an amortized payment schedule, and not interest only payments.

There is more good news… The BIG SIX BANKS can’t offer you an 80% LTV HELOC but the credit unions can… Maybe Canadians will start to seek other Lenders……They may finally discover that there much better options out there.   Watch for the Credit Unions to take a chunk out of the BIG SIX BANK mortgage pie.

Not sure where you fit in?   Call me for details.

Steve Garganis

416 224 0114

New Mortgage rules start today… but BMO study says Canadians pay their mortgages in 15 yrs!

  The govt’s new mortgage rules go into effect today… well, actually, most Lenders put them into effect a week ago to ensure they had enough time to process applications already in the pipeline.

The new rules are supposed to help us pay our mortgage off faster, make it tougher to borrow money and slow the housing market which in turn will save us from a housing bubble.   And this is also supposed to help lower our personal debt levels.   It all sounds great, but the govt has not provided us with any real data to suggest that we need saving from ourselves.

In fact, a new BMO study shows that Canadians are paying off their mortgages in 15 years or less.   Does that sound like a bunch of irresponsible borrowers?   And there is a lot more data out there that shows over 20% of us are making lump sum payments… and even more are accelerating their payment schedules by increasing their minimum mortgage payments..

If the govt did make a mistake and used a sledgehammer to kill a fly, then let’s hope they will act just as quickly to adjust the rules if their policies were too strong… Let’s hope they will put some sort of review procedure in place to measure the impact of these changes….We already have some pretty tough standards when it comes to borrowing for a house…. maybe we should bring in some rules for Credit Cards or personal loans…  seems like anyone with a pulse can get one of these….

Part 2 of OSFI’s new mortgage underwriting rules announced

Hot topics this week are all the govt changes to mortgage lending…  but before we get into the bad news, I thought I’d start with some positive news…  Interest rates are still at all time lows….  if you have a mortgage or will be getting one soon, today’s rates are lower than ever before…  That means more money in your pocket!   We don’t seem to hear enough about that…

Okay, now for the update…Remember, these changes will affect ALL Federally regulated financial institutions….BUT they won’t affect MOST CREDIT UNIONS and other Lenders..

Yesterday we got a double whammy…  First the Federal Department of Finance announced changes to CMHC insured mortgages.… And later that day, OSFI announced Part 2 of their changes to Residential Mortgage Underwriting Practices and Procedures, better known as RMUP… but I prefer RUMP because that’s exactly where most of us will be feeling the effects of these changes…

The timing of all this tightening puzzles most of us in the mortgage industry.   Canada has been the envy of the world when it comes to our mortgage underwriting practices… The govt seems to be getting more into credit underwriting and procedures than ever before… And yet they have not given us any true data or reason for these changes….

Nevertheless, it’s important to keep up to date as these changes will affect us all.  Part 1 of changes were announced earlier this month through a Draft update on June 6th..   And here are the details of the final changes which come into effect later this year… there is a lot of text in the final draft but we are only focusing on the changes that will have the greatest impact on us:

  • Credit checks should be done more often.. minimum credit scores should not solely relied up to determine a borrower’s credit worthiness.
  • Home Equity Lines of Credit will be limited to 65% loan to value, down from the current 80% loan to value. (still not sure if there will be any grandfathering of existing lines but my guess is no)
  • there is more wording with regards to Lender’s Senior Management having more minimum reporting… (this looked like make-work stuff to me as most Lenders have tons of reporting).
  • Cash-back mortgages are gone (no big deal here…. very few of these products were ever used by us ‘irresponsible Canadians’… )
  • Self-employed individuals will be required to provide and pass an ‘income reasonability’ test… (these already exist with most Lenders)
  • Lenders should use the 5 yr fixed contract rate or the Bank Posted rate when qualifying for Variable rate products…even conventional mortgages… (again, nothing new here.. most Lenders are doing this already….yawn)

Who can blame you if you if you’re having trouble keeping up with all these changes to mortgage rules and lending policies.  We must question the purpose of these changes… little to no proof has been presented with regards to why the govt feels these changes are needed… and the timing may come back to bite them in the RUMP!   Some experts are making the argument that the govt’s attempt to avert a major housing downturn, could actually be the cause of it…..let’s hope not.. only time will tell.

I question why the govt is so focused on the estimated $1trillion residential mortgage market, when we have little or no rules when it comes to the other $500billion of non-real estate debt such as credit cards, loans and lines of credit.   Why is it okay to buy a car with $0 money down or okay to make NO payments for 6 months or 1 year, with interest rates of 8%, 18% and 28%, but if you want to buy or refinance your home, you better be prepared to jump through several hoops?   Can you say, ‘I need to refocus my energy and efforts’?

THE GOOD NEWS

Mortgage Brokers will be much busier with these new changes.   Your traditional Bank and ‘A’ Lender WILL NOT be able to provide the same financing as before…. BUT there are several other Lenders that are ready to fill the gap… including Credit Unions and other non-bank Lenders…..   We could see the small Lenders grow with these changes…  As always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need clarification.

Steve Garganis

OSFI announcement: HELOCs cut to 65%, partial re-qualifying for mortgages at renewal time..

The Office of The Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) announced some interim changes that will affect all mortgage borrowers and also those with Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC).    Draft Bill B-20 was introduced March 19, 2012… and somehow, in less than 3 months, the govt has been able to review the short and long term effects of the biggest changes ever put forward before this country.  Did they work efficiently or did they rush through this?

In the end, we saw 2 major changes announced that will affect all mortgage borrowers….  changes that I feel are completely uncalled for… To be blunt, I haven’t been able to find one piece of data or fact from OSFI or the govt to substantiate their call for change….  Let’s take a look at their changes…by the way, you can click here for the full version from OSFI’s website

1- Re-qualification at Renewal “Current practice regarding residential mortgage renewals has served (Federally-regulated Financial Institutions) FRFIs well.” … “FRFIs, however, will be expected to refresh the borrowers’ credit metrics periodically (not necessarily at renewal) so that FRFIs can effectively evaluate their credit risk.”   as per OSFI text.

Some good news here… I’m glad OSFI isn’t making us fully re-qualify for a mortgage at every renewal period… but obtaining a new credit report at the Lenders discretion should concern you…  If you think it’s all about making your payments on time, guess again… Your overall credit balances, your credit availability, you balances in proportion to your available credit, how recent you obtained credit….. All these things are factored in a mortgage approval decision…. and let’s not forget your credit score… If your credit score goes down or if the Lender changes their policy (we’ve seen that happen many times over the past 4 years), then you could be in jeopardy of not qualifying for a renewal…

Life is never perfect…. we all hit some speed bumps…. the character of a person isn’t measured when times are tough, but rather how they handled that rough patch in their life… If you default on your mortgage, there are existing remedies in place for the Lender to collect their funds…..Do we really need to arm Lenders with a weapon that allows them to cancel or call your mortgage if they think you MIGHT not be able to make future payments??    Are we guilty until proven innocent?  Thumbs down from me on this one…

2- Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs) “…the HELOC component of a mortgage be restricted to a maximum loan-to-value ratio of 65 per cent.  HELOCs are inherently riskier products, given their revolving nature, persistence of debt balances and their ineligibility for mortgage insurance.  However, HELOCs at or below an LTV ratio of 65 per cent will not be required to be amortized….”  as per OSFI text.

We aren’t sure what this means… if you have a HELOC greater than 65% loan to value, will you need to amortized part of it?   The wording in OSFI’s announcement shows me just how out of touch with reality they are….  HELOCs are riskier but they are already much harder to qualify for.  Reality is that arrears or defaults are near all time lows….  Reality is that most HELOC borrowers use them for a large number of things… investments, home renos, business, etc….   The govt has not given us any data to back up their statements about higher risk… and industry stats show we are fine…  It was only a few years ago when CMHC was offering insured HELOCs up to 90% loan to value…?   We’ve gone from 90% to 65%…. Has the pendulum swung too far…?

These changes will come into effect soon…we’ll have to watch for the Final announcement on how they will be implemented…  And because the govt is putting the responsiblity back on the Lenders, we will see different interpretations of these new rules…No two Lenders are alike.

So what’s next, we can’t buy investment properties?   Oh yeah, CMHC stopped insuring rental properties last year…. almost forgot… BIG thumbs down from me on this move.

If you have a mortgage coming up for renewal or have a HELOC and aren’t sure how these changes will affect you, feel free to give me a contact me….

Steve

CMHC under OSFI control…. another kick in the rear to Canadians.

CMHC’s MOVE TO OSFI CONTROL WILL BE A KICK IN THE BUTT TO ALL CANADIAN HOMEOWNERS.

Is this what CMHC staff and Canadian homeowners are thinking?….   That’s right, it could be OSFI head, Julie Dickson on one end, and that’s you and I on the receiving end!

You’ve seen the headlines lately….  “OSFI proposes radical changes under Draft Bill B-20” which was up for discussion until May 1st.    But weeks earlier, Julie Dickson, the head of OSFI made a surprise remark at speech in Toronto’s Board of Trade…(some were calling it an ‘oops’, or a ‘slip-up’ ) where she stated that the proposed HELOC changes were a done deal…  this was on April 7th… well before the May 1st discussion deadline…

And more recently, we saw more questionable remarks from OSFI…. this time from Vlasios Melassanakis, Manager of Policy Development.   “Are the banks equipped to handle a 40% drop (what occurred in Toronto market in early 1990’s)? Need to stress test to find out.”    Is Melassanakis for real?   40% drop??  where is he getting that number from??    Absurd..! and unsubstantiated!   That’s my response.

What’s going on here, you might ask??

Mortgage arrears are low, affordability is high, property values have declined or remained flat across the country except a few pockets including GTA…   So why all these drastic changes?

I was contacted for my opinion by some business writers from our national media.   We were trying to read the fine print… to understand what it all this meant…. and why it had to be done so quickly…  Why do we have move CMHC, a Crown corporation that’s been around for over 50 yrs and making $billion profits for Canada…why do we need to move them under OSFI control?

The dust hasn’t settled yet, but here are some of the changes and my thoughts on what seems to be happening.

  • introduce a limit on secured lines of credit to 65% of the value of your home… down from 80%… this move makes no sense…  this will limit your ability to draw on the equity in your home to invest, access cheap money to run a business (the self-employed are an understated segment of the population that will really suffer), pay for your kids education, or just access funds for personal use…   the govt wants to mandate this product for the first time in history…  and by the way, it’s always been harder to qualify for these products than a regular mortgage.
  • re-underwrite your mortgage at renewal... they propose to reapprove your income, credit, get a new property appraisal at time of renewal… regardless if you made all your payments on time…  where’s the logic?  what’s the point?  Would any lender really tell someone their mortgage won’t be renewed even though they paid fine?  Will they ask you to pay down your mortgage if a new appraisal says your house is worth less?
  • they have even suggested they want to change our long running standard underwriting debt servicing ratios… these have been around for over 30 yrs and have served us well… why the change?
  • OSFI is a regulatory body that provides regulation and supervision to 152 Banks, Trust companies and other Lenders.   They are auditors….  Where is their motive to provide access to mortgage money for prospective homeowner?   This move to push CMHC under OSFI is the biggest change in decades and it’s very risky given that Canada is looked upon as a stable country with a stable banking system…  why would the govt make all these changes?  and why now?
  • let’s not forget some of the comments from Minister of Finance Flaherty.. he suggested CMHC may not even be necessary in the future…  a bold statement.

POSSIBLE EFFECTS OF THESE CHANGES

It’s clear these changes will effect us all….. here are some of the early results of the changes:

  • we have already been informed that CMHC has tightened their lending policies… there was an official communique released last month that stated, more applications will get referred to underwriters for full review….
  • several banks have amended or cut their business for self mortgage programs… end result is higher cost to obtain funding… guess that’s good for who?? not the consumer…
  • less access to the equity in your homes will mean less money towards investments… we have  huge segment of our population that borrows to invest in stocks, properties, etc..  they will have less to access now….  resulting in less money in the economy.
  • we may achieve  a lower personal debt level… but will that help the economy?…
  • less money flowing into the economy can’t be a good thing…  if we wanted to slow things, the Bank of Canada would have raised their Target Rate long ago…. instead, it has remained unchanged since Sept 2010.
  • there will be more..

We’ve heard that a review of CMHC by OSFI will be  completed by June… but the results won’t be published… so we can only guess and speculate as to what changes these auditors at OSFI will be proposing….  We’ll be watching and reporting…..Let’s hope they don’t fix something that isn’t broken.

As always, if there is something you need help with, let me know… I’m happy to help.!


A complete overhaul of Mortgage Lending in Canada?

  FED GOVT KEEPS TALKING ABOUT TIGHTENING MORTGAGE LENDING POLICIES

But why?  Why does the govt believe there is a need for all this change?  That’s the question most industry insiders are asking.  Here are some facts with my thoughts mixed in….  tell me if you see some contradiction between the different branches of the govt or a lack of consistency:

  • Surprise…we don’t have a mortgage default problem… Mortgage arrears in Canada are 0.38% as of January 2012.   In Ontario, the housing hot spot, arrears are only 0.28%.   These figures are very low by anyone’s standards.
  • The average resale price dropped 0.5% nationally.  But resale prices in Toronto, are up around 7.3% in a year-over-year comparison.  But that trend is cooling according to The Canadian Real Estate Association.
  • Inflation isn’t a problem… it’s hovering at 1.9%, well within acceptable levels.
  • Housing affordability hasn’t really changed in 10 yrs according to the RBC housing affordability index and it actually improved in Q4 of 2011 (it’s probably even better this year as interest rates are even lower).
  • Personal household debt is around 153% of income.  That’s a record high number, it’s true, but what are Canadians borrowing for?  Studies tell us it’s not for big screen TVs or trips to Bahamas…  We’re actually investing… in stocks, mutual funds, real estate here and in the U.S.  In fact, we are the biggest foreign buyers in Florida and we are also buying in Phoenix, Arizona in record numbers…. Is buying a second home a bad investment?
  • Did you know that 1/3rd of Personal Debt is non-mortgage debt including high interest credit cards, loans and unsecured lines of credit…. yet, there is little to no regulation for these products…
  • Speaking of credit cards… the arrears rate is just over 1.00%... that’s around triple what mortgage arrears are!  Why isn’t the govt clamping down on these credit products?
  • Record-low interest rates were brought in to stimulate the economy.  Haven’t Canadians played their role to kick-start the economy?  Why does the govt want to punish homeowners now with tougher qualifying rules?  OSFI has even proposed you re-qualify for your mortgage at renewal time!!   How absurd is that?
  • The Bank of Canada wants to raise rates to slow our personal debt growth…   but can’t for fear of slowing the economy…
  • The Federal Minister of Finance, Flaherty, wants to tighten mortgage lending to slow the housing market and reduce the amount of mortgage debt we take on.
  • The housing market accounts for up to 40% of this country’s GDP… all these changes will affect our economy.
  • Business for Self mortgage programs have been eliminated by some banks and other Lenders… making borrowing more expensive for this segment of our population…. by the way, they are paying their mortgages just fine.. there is no evidence suggesting Business for Self borrowers have repayment problems…
  • CMHC opted out of rental property mortgages last year in an attempt to slow real estate investment… so you must come up with 20% down or use equity from other sources for the down payment..

FED GOVT’S LATEST MOVE IS TO PUSH CMHC UNDER OSFI CONTROL

  • OSFI will assume control over CMHC, the country’s national housing agency…. You will have an audit dept overseeing a social program… hmm, I wonder what will happen to CMHC??  The possibilities frighten me and should frighten most Canadians… (more on this later).
  • Minister Flaherty made a comment that maybe the govt should consider selling CMHC…  say goodbye to a business that nets over $1billion a year.. $16billion since 2002.   Here’s an idea…why not split CMHC into 2 business… bulk insurance business and the traditional low down payment business… wouldn’t that keep the Canadian dream of home ownership alive and also satisfy the auditors, like OSFI??
  • OSFI wants to limit Secured Lines of Credit to 65% loan to value from today’s 80% loan to value…  This one makes no sense and has received harsh criticism from Financial Experts…. scares me to think that it’s even gone from thought to paper to print… what other changes were they considering that didn’t make it to print??

MY SUMMARY OF IT ALL…

In short, the govt wants to keep the economy stable but they are going to make it harder for you and I to qualify for a mortgage….  Yet, there are no changes coming for the most expensive of debts… Credit cards, loans and unsecured lines of credit rules either don’t exist or will not change…  For some reason, the govt thinks it’s okay to borrow at 7% , 8% for unsecured lines of credit and pay 18% to 20% on credit cards, but please don’t borrow for a home, at 3% and 4%??

If we continue to make it harder for Canadians to get a mortgage, then we will have fewer home sales.. Fewer home sales will affect ALL HOME VALUES and slow the economy.  It’s really that simple…  this affects the biggest asset that most of us will own… our home!

Let’s hope the govt thinks like a carpenter… measure twice and cut once… !

If you’re a homeowner and aren’t sure how these and other changes might affect you, feel free to contact me anytime.   I’d be happy to help.

OSFI will now oversee CMHC…. lookout Canada…!

Canada’s Minister of Finance, Flaherty, surprised many today by tabling a budget bill with a major legislation change.   The bill would move Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)  under the control of the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI).   This would also give the Minister of Finance even more control over CMHC.  Here’s an article in the Globe and Mail.

So let’s think about the impact of this proposed legislative change…   Over the past 4 years, we have seen numerous changes to CMHC lending policies…

  • Maximum amortization has dropped from 40 to 30 years.
  •  interest-only payment mortgages came and went in 2 years.
  • 100% loan to value or no money down mortgages came and went over a 2 year period….. you must now put at least 5% down payment.
  • rental property mortgages could be had for up to 100% loan to value and are now not being insured at all.
  • Business for self could get mortgages up to 95% for purchases but are now capped at 90% ltv.
  • You could Refinance your mortgage for up to 100% ltv and now it’s capped at 85% ltv.
  • Variable rate borrowers have to qualify at BIG SIX Bank posted 5 yr rate, compared with discounted 5 yr rate or 3 yr fixed rate.  A clear move to force you into the higher 5 yr fixed rate…. supposedly it’s safer to be in a 5 yr fixed rate…(guess the govt has looked at any rate comparison charts for the last 20 yrs).
  • Secured lines of credit could be had for up to 90% ltv CMHC insured, then CMHC pulled out altogether leaving the max at 80% ltv and now OSFI wants to cut them back to 65% ltv (this move has everyone confused and puzzled).

Aren’t all these changes enough?  How much tighter does the govt need to make it?  And all these changes have come prior to Julie Dickson, head of OSFI, being involved….  What scares me and should scare you, is that OSFI has come out and stated they want to cap the amount of equity you can access in your home…. That’s right… OSFI wants to limit your secured line of credit to 65% loan to value.    This proposed change is beyond my understanding.  It’s so out of line that it defies any common sense.  For the first time that I can remember, the govt is telling Lenders and Banks how much they can lend to you for uninsured loans.     If you don’t like this, then stand and up and have your say… write to OSFI and tell them you don’t agree…

I can tell you that within my own base of clients, this will affect a great number of people… the professionals, the business for self, the investor that wants to borrow to invest…  remember, these are everyday people that want to do better but will now be handicapped by your govt because they can’t access the equity in their homes..    It won’t stop them, it will just cost them more to borrow as they seek other, higher interest credit products…. (Banks will win yet again).

If OSFI does gain control over CMHC, then lookout… we can only imagine the possible changes that they are conceiving.

Govt to cut Secured lines of credit to 65% loan to value…

Thursday’s speech by OSFI head, Julie Dickson, at the Toronto Board of Trade, indicates it’s a done deal.  Secured lines of Credit will be capped to a maximum 65% of the value of your home.  “…the guideline does set out some firm rules that all institutions will need to adhere to – specifically that home equity lines of credit – or HELOCS – can have a loan to value ratio no greater than 65%….”

WE’RE MAKING SOME CHANGES…. I MEAN, WE ARE PROPOSING SOME CHANGES…

It was only a few weeks ago that OSFI issued a Draft B-20 guideline, a guideline that is filled with radical changes to mortgage lending rules and policies.    It was supposed to be up for discussion, with a May 1st deadline…. So much for discussion…. it appears the decision was made already according to Ms. Dickson’s speech today…. here’s a copy of that speech… April 5 2012 remarks by Julie Dickson.

90%, 80% AND NOW 65%???… WHEN DOES IT END?

Remember 2007?  It was just a few years ago that CMHC was offering 100% loan to value, interest only payment mortgages.  Back then it was good to borrow at these levels…. And HELOC’s could be had for up to 90% LTV.  Over the past few years, the govt has tightened up mortgage rules in an attempt to reduce access to credit.    Mortgages were amortized for 40 years, then cut back to 35 and now 30 years..  But now the govt believes they need to step in again and limit access to your equity by reducing the Loan to Value limit to just 65%….   I looked back to some historical lending policies and couldn’t find a time when the govt ever imposed a limit of just 65%.   It is unheard of! And it’s going to have a big effect.

SO WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

OSFI is finding a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.   I don’t think they realize that Banks have pushed borrowers into lines of credit for years now, as a way of providing easier access to the equity in their homes.    Canadians aren’t buying new TVs or new cars or other luxury items… they are using the equity to improve their net worth by buying investments.   Why is this a bad thing?   Are our defaults up?  NO!  Then what is the problem….?

WHO WILL THIS AFFECT AND HOW?

If you are a self-employed person and ever tried to get a business loan from the Bank, then you know how difficult it can be to get an approval… but even if you do, the repayment terms and interest costs could be a hard stop.   End result is that business idea could remain just that… an idea that never got launched.   One of the more popular alternatives was to access cheap money by borrowing, against the equity in your home.  Mortgages can be great but if you need to borrow, repay and borrow again, then a mortgage can have costly registration fees and penalties.  But through a HELOC,  the repayment terms are great and it’s also a much lower rate of interest than any business credit facility.

Borrowing to invest isn’t anything new.  A HELOC allows you to access YOUR equity at preferred rates.   How about buying a second home or a rental property?  You could use the equity in your home to help with the purchase and HELOCs give a separate accounting which makes reporting to Revcan much easier.

How about borrowing for your child’s education?   Are we going to force Canadians to refinance their mortgages in order access cheap money?   I’m sure the BIG SIX Banks will love to see you break your mortgage and pay their infamous penalties.

END RESULT

Get ready, because you are about to see us pushed into higher interest, unsecured lines of credit (oh yeah, there wasn’t any mention of reviewing these lending policies… that’s because NONE exist!).

Which debt would you pay last…. a mortgage, a secured line of credit or a credit card or unsecured line of credit?    Obviously, it’s the unsecured debts would be last on our list… we will always pay for the roof over our heads…. which is why the defaults are still very low and within very acceptable levels.

We are going to see many Canadians discouraged from investing.. they won’t want to go through the trouble of borrowing with a mortgage…  Congratulations OSFI, you’ve made borrowing more expensive….you’ve made investing for our future tougher than it has to be.

The WINNERS… the BANK…. The LOSERS… you and me, the average Canadian…!

OSFI’s latest proposals will affect every mortgage and line of credit..

Earlier this week we saw a draft guidelines proposed by Brock Kruger from  The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions.  Yes, more tightening of mortgage and secured real estate lending……  To put this in plain language, the proposal will affect almost everyone… it will change how mortgages and secured lines of credit are offered….. in shorty, I think this plan is trying put out a fire that doesn’t exist.  There is no need for the changes.

Draft B-20 just goes too far…..   they target mortgages but also Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC).    Most of the media coverage on this has been somewhat neutral.. but finally we have seen one reporter question these proposed changes.  This article by Peter Foster in the National Post was great…   He questions why we need any more changes when our mortgage and banking system is the envy of the world….  There is no emergency, no arrears problem, nothing to indicate our mortgage lending policies are overly generous.

It should be noted that non-bank lenders will not be affected by this… leaving them as a potential winner if these guidelines become policy…

Here’s a link to the entire 18 page draft.

SUMMARY OF THE PROPOSED CHANGES:

Cash back mortgages could disappear.. currently, one could get a mortgage for 95% of the purchase price at Bank posted rates and then get a 5% cashback.  The cashback can be used as the down payment.  ( I don’t see many reasons for applicants to buy with no money down so this isn’t a big issue for me)

-homes would have to be appraised at renewal timethis is just crazy… can you imagine if your property value dropped and the bank asked you to pay down your mortgage at renewal time or even worse, call in your mortgage?  What’ s OSFI trying to do.. force everyone to take a 10 yer fixed rate mortgage?   They have already made Variable Rate mortgages harder to qualify for…. what’s the matter, they don’t want us to pay less interest?  

HELOC’s would have to be amortized meaning NO MORE INTEREST ONLY PAYMENTS...  this one will affect more households and business owners than the OSFI probably realizes… businesses use their homes to finance businesses… that’s been going on for decades… but they aren’t borrowing with no assets.. remember, they are putting up their homes as collateral.. if we start to make it even more difficult for self-employed to obtain financing, this will affect the economy almost immediately.  But how about the 2nd or 3rd time buyer in their 30’s or 40’s that wants to tap into their equity for investments… ?  Are we going to eliminate all interest only payment facilities?  

-HELOC’s maximum would be reduced from 80% to 65% loan to value of your house…. and let’s not forget that just a few years ago we could have obtained up to 90% loan to value through CMHC insured products. Again, just another crazy idea and very radical change in just a few years… where is OSFI taking us?

mortgages would require tighter debt servicing guidelines including fewer exception approvals by your lender…

Mr. Kruger, your intentions may be honorable, but you are not being practical or realistic.   Why have you introduced these proposals?   To reduce access to credit?   To make it more difficult for Canadians to tap into their home equity?   To make it tougher to buy a house?     Whatever you think these changes might do, I can tell you, as a 22 year mortgage industry veteran and industry insider, that these proposed changes will just shrink our economy, force us to take longer fixed rate products resulting in even higher mortgage penalties for the Banks…  It will force us to tap into our credit cards and unsecured, higher interest credit facilities.… It will force business owners to pay more for raising capital… it will discourage investors….

Give this one a rethink… you are searching for a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

BIG BANKS need your help for higher profits!!

The more I think about it, the more fired up I get!   OSFI (Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions) has come out and said Bank profit margins are shrinking and the BIG Banks may start to loosen their credit lending policies in order to write more business and therefore earn more profit.

This statement just doesn’t make any sense…. let’s think about this for a minute… Take a look at Financial Post’s Biggest Companies ranked by profit in 2010.…let’s see where the Banks rank:

– #2 is RBC $5.2 billion

-#3 is TD Bank $4.6 billion

– #4 Bank of Nova Scotia $4.2 billion

– #9 Bank of Montreal  $2.9 billion

– #12 CIBC $2.4 billion

Five of the top twelve most profitable companies are Banks!!!  This doesn’t look like the Banks are hurting that badly, does it?  We should also not forget that the govt has made several changes to mortgage lending rules…It’s already harder to qualify for a mortgage and line of credit…  So what gives, OSFI??

Look, OSFI has spoken and we must not ignore this….I don’t like what they are saying and the logic they are trying to give us doesn’t make sense….But we can’t bury our head in the sand either… The Banks have too much power… We should prepare ourselves for changes… Make plans and adjust accordingly… Don’t wait for the Banks to act.

It’s clear to me that we could see some changes in lending policies…My guess is this will translate to some increased rates on your secured lines of credit, a possible review of your account, even a reduction in your limit… That’ right, the banks can even call your line of credit and ask you to repay it in full…!! They might ask you to lock into a fixed rate mortgage or get into an amortized repayment schedule instead of just paying interest only.

But it doesn’t end there… commercial accounts will also be under the magnifying glass, in my opinion.  Commercial loans and mortgages get reviewed annually by the Banks…This is why it’s very important to choose your commercial lender carefully… Not all Banks are alike… there are some institutions that offer commercial loans that are not callable…

Bottom line is to be aware, stay informed and act accordingly…. If you are not sure where you fit in with these possible changes, give me a call.. I’m happy to help.

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