Saw this article today about higher consumer debt levels BUT lower defaults. Equifax Canada is quoted as saying that consumer debt rose by 7.2% in the second quarter 2014 to $1.45 trillion ,compared with $1.35 trillion from a year ago. This includes credit cards, loans, lines of credits and mortgages.
The average Canadian now has $20,759 in personal debt, excluding mortgages. That’s a 1.5% increase since last year. So that means mortgage debt has risen by around 7%. Here’s a heads up… you will see and hear articles sounding the panic alarm… again.
Well, before we hit that panic button, there was one more stat that we should pay attention to. DEFAULTS. Defaults are at their lowest level since 2008. If higher consumer debt levels and lower defaults sound strange to you, it shouldn’t. I’ll explain… Continue reading “News stats..Higher debt, but lower defaults”
Ever notice how all economic news is bad? Seriously, when was the last time you heard Canadians were doing well, financially? Even when we came out of the October 2008 U.S. sub-prime mortgage crisis (notice I’m very specific about the cause of that recession) with flying colours, we kept seeing the same negative messages about how lucky we were to come out of this as strong as we did.
But here we are, 5 years later (hard to believe it’s been 5 years) and all we keep hearing and reading is how the economy is fragile… the housing bubble is coming… personal debt levels are at record highs… housing affordability index has increased (this measures how much of your income is used for housing)… This all sounds terrible and depressing.. maybe we should sell everything, move to another country and herd sheep? Continue reading “Rising personal debt levels.. but how about rising asset levels?”
So here we go again.. More stats that show our personal debt levels aren’t out of control… That’s right, I said ‘aren’t’ out of control. Equifax Canada says our defaults are at record low levels and we are paying off our debts faster. This doesn’t come as any surprise to me. Anyone that’s followed my posts knows that I have questioned all the popular articles telling us we are not managing our debts responsibly.
You’ve seen the reports… ‘Personal debts at record high levels’…..’Personal Debt crisis’. We’ve been hammered with the same headlines for the past few years. I just wasn’t seeing this with my readers or my clients… I kept seeing consumers wanting to take advantage of these record low interest rates to invest or improve their homes (why is that a bad thing?). That’s not bad debt in my opinion… that’s good debt.. And now we have some stats to back up what I have experienced. Continue reading “Personal Debt level concerns are overblown according to Equifax stats.”
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 4 years, it’s impossible to not know the Federal govt’s concern about Canada’s Personal Debt level. The media has covered this topic extensively. After all, bad news sells more than good news…..
Here’s some current stats from Statistics Canada that really gets my blood boiling!…. We now carry a total debt load equal to around 164% of our annual household income. That’s at an all-time high…. The govt is convinced that we are spending too much or our income towards real estate… They have made numerous changes to mortgage lending rules that make it much tougher to qualify for a mortgage. If there really is a problem, why is the govt focusing on low-interest rate products like mortgages?
Current mortgage rates are at around 3.00%. Current credit card rates range from 9.99% to 19.99%….personal loan and car loan rates range from 6.00% to 9.00% and up. Aren’t low-interest rate products better than high-interest rate products? We have not seen any changes to these non-mortgage debt products…. Who benefits from higher rates? Yup, your banker!… Continue reading “Personal Debt levels and Mortgage Debt levels”
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.!