28 Feb

A History Of Mortgage Rule Changes In Canada


Posted by: Peter Paley

In 2008, the Federal Government started making some changes to how mortgage applications are approved in Canada. I think it important to recap some of these changes.

Prior to the first rule change:
– No down payment required – finance 100%
– Maximum amortization was 40 years.
– Refinance up to 95% the value of your home.
– With excellent credit scores 680+, you could have a Total Debt Service Ratio (TDSR) of
– Minimum credit score for CMHC was 580.

Fall 2008:
– Reduction of maximum amortization from 40 years to 35 years.
– Introduction of a minimum score for Insured mortgages of 620 (But lower scores were
considered on an exception basis).
– 100% financing was eliminated. (However, you could still use a Cash Back Mortgage for
down payment).
– Maximum TDSR lowered to 45%.

Spring 2010:
– Stricter rental property guidelines. The amount of rent for income/debt servicing
purposes was reduced from 80% to 50%.
– A Mortgage Qualifying Rate was introduced for all insured mortgages on all variable
terms and all fixed rate mortgage terms 4 years and less. (5-year fixed rate mortgages
were still allowed to qualify at the contract rate).
– Rental Mortgage down payment minimum was raised from 10% to 20%.
– Insured refinances reduced from 95% Loan to Value to 90%.

Spring 2011:
– Insured Home Equity Lines of Credit discontinued.
– Insured refinances further reduced from 90% Loan to value to 85%
– Maximum amortizations lowered further from 35 years to 30 years.
Summer 2012:
– Implementation of a New Gross Debt Service Ratio maximum of 39%
– Refinance loan to value reduced further from 85% to 80%
– Maximum amortization reduced from 30 years to 25 years for insured mortgages.

Not bad for 4 years worth of work. Now the OSFI (Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions) changes begin with the B-20 and B-21 Legislation. This occurred between fall 2012 and spring 2013.

OSFI B20 – 2012-2013:
– A new maximum Loan to Value for Home Equity Lines of Credit of 65%, down from 80%.
– The Bank of Canada’s qualifying rate is now applied to all variable and fixed rate
mortgage terms of 4 years or less for conventional mortgages.
– Self-employed borrowers are mandated to provide reasonable income verification. Stated
Income Programs disappear.
– Cashback mortgages are no longer permitted to be used for down payment.

OSFI B21 – Winter 2014:
– Tighter regulations around how to calculate payments on Secured and Home Equity Secured
Lines of Credit.
– All revolving credit payments for debt servicing are now calculated at 3% of the
outstanding balance instead of the interest-only payments. For example, a $10,000 credit
card balance would now have a qualifying payment $300/month up from about $45/month.
Are you feeling a little mad, disappointed or discouraged yet? Now for the greed. For
the next part of this article, remember that default rates in Canada have almost always
been below 0.5%.

Summer 2015:
– Default Mortgage Insurers increase premiums. At a 90.1% – 95% Loan to Value the premium
increased from 3.15% to 3.6%. This cost to consumers would be an additional $1,350 of
default insurance on a $300,000 mortgage.

New Year 2016:
– Increase to the minimum down payments for mortgage amounts between $500,000 and

Fall 2016:
– Mortgage Insurance limited to purchase prices not exceeding $999,999
– Insured refinances were eliminated altogether.
– To avoid the abuse of capital gains exemptions, foreign property owners need to prove
that they are selling a primary residence.
– The mortgage stress test expands to 5-year term mortgages but excluded uninsured
conventional mortgages.

Happy New Year’s 2017:

– Insurers realized revenues are down from all the previous changes and increase premiums
AGAIN! With a 5% down payment, the mortgage insurance premium jumped from 3.6% to a
WHOPPING 4%. This means that you as a homeowner would have a mere 1% equity interest in
your home.

Jan 2018:
Allconventional mortgages will need to qualify with their own stress test or
the contract rate +2.0%. So that means that if the 5-year fixed rate is 3.49%, you
would have to qualify at a rate of 5.49%.

All these changes. How did it affect consumers? It made buying a home and qualifying for a mortgage way more difficult, it has affected purchasing power by about 45% from pre-2008 up until today.

If you are looking for a mortgage professional I would be happy to help you.

Peter Paley.

28 Feb

Fixed Interest Rates vs. Variable Interest Rates


Posted by: Peter Paley

Fixed Interest Rates

This is usually the more popular choice for clients when it comes to deciding on which type of interest rate they want. There are many reasons why, but the most unsurprising answer is always safety. With a fixed interest rate, you know exactly what you are paying every month and you know that the amount of interest being charged for the term of your mortgage will not increase and it will not decrease. Fixed interest rates can be taken on 1-year, 2-year, 3-year, 5-year, as well as 7 and 10-year terms. Please note, term is not meant to be confused with amortization. When you have a 5-year term but a 25-year amortization- the term is when your mortgage is up for renewal, but it will still take you the 25 years to pay off the entire debt. The biggest knock on fixed interest rates when it comes to mortgages, especially 5-year terms, is the potential penalty. If you want to break your mortgage and pay it out, switch lenders, take advantage of a lower rate, or anything like this and your term is not over, there will be a penalty. With a 5-year term, a fixed rate penalty can be anywhere from $1,000- $20,000 or more. It all depends on the lender’s current rates, what yours currently is, the length of time remaining on your term, and the balance outstanding. The formula used is called an IRD (interest rate differential) and the penalty owed will either be the amount this formula produces or three month’s interest- which ever is greater. Fixed interest rates, especially 5-year terms can be the most favourable. They are safe, competitive interest rates that you will not need to worry about changing for the term of your mortgage. However, if you do not have your mortgage for the entire term, it could hurt you.

Variable Rate Interest

The Bank of Canada sets what they call a target overnight rate and that interest rate influences the prime rate a lender offers consumers. A variable rate, is either the lender’s prime lending rate plus or minus another number. For example, let us say someone has a variable interest rate of prime minus 0.70. If their lender’s prime lending rate is 5.00% in this example, they have an effective interest rate of 4.30%. However, if for example the prime rate changed to 6.00%, the same person’s interest rate would now be 5.30%. Written on a mortgage, these interest rates would look like P-0.7. Variable interest rates are usually only available on 5-year terms with some lenders offering the possibility of taking a 3-year variable interest rate. When it comes to penalties, variable interest rates are almost always calculated using 3-months interest, NOT the IRD formula used to calculate the penalty on a fixed term mortgage. This ends up being significantly less expensive as breaking a 5-year term mortgage at a fixed rate of 3.49% with a balance of $500,000 will cost approximately $15,000. That is if you use the current progression of interest rates and broke it at the beginning of year 3. A variable interest rate of Prime Minus 0.5% with prime rate at 3.45% will only cost $3,800. That is a difference of $11,200. You can expect to pay this kind of amount for the safety of a fixed rate mortgage over 5-years if you break it early.

Which one is best?

It completely depends on the person. Your loan’s term (length of time before it either expires or is up for renewal) can be anywhere from a year to 5 years, or longer. A first-time home buyer typically has a mortgage term of 5 years. Within those 5 years, the prime rate could move up or down, but you won’t know by how much or when until it happens. Recently, variable rates have been lower than fixed rates, however, they run the risk of changing. With fixed interest rates, you know exactly what your payments will be and what it will cost you every month regardless of a lender’s prime rate changing. If you go to the site www.tradingeconomics.com/canada/bank-lending-rate you can see the 10-year history of lender’s prime lending rate. Because lenders usually change their prime lending rate together to match one another (except for TD), this graph is a good representation. As you can see, from 2008 to 2018, the interest rate has dropped from 5.75% to 2.25% all the way back up to 3.45%. Canada has had this prime lending rate since 1960, and in that time it has seen an all-time high of 22.75% (1981) and all-time low of 2.25% (2010). Whether you want the risk of variable or the stability of a fixed rate is up to you, but allow this information to be the basis of your decision based on your own personal needs. If you have any questions, contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional near you.

Ryan Oake
Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional