Analyzing years of mortgage rule impact

The most recent mortgage rule changes have had a much smaller impact on the market than previous policy changes and there’s a simple explanation for that, according to a new report.

The most recent mortgage rule changes have had a much smaller impact on the market than previous policy changes and there’s a simple explanation for that, according to a new report.

There has been an unprecedented number of housing policy changes over the past year-and-a-half, according to TD Bank, and each has been aimed at tempering housing demand.

And while the industry viewed the last round of changes as particularly invasive, they have proven less impactful than previous iterations.

“Each successive regulation change at the federal level has left a smaller mark on home buying activity. Our estimates suggest that the most recent federal rule changes may have only shaved 2% off demand nationwide,” TD Economists Beata Caranci and Diana Petramala, wrote in their latest report, Canadian Regional Housing Outlook Navigating a Soft Landing. “In contrast, the first regulatory changes implemented in 2008 dampened home sales by roughly 10%. That policy increased the required down payment from 0% to 5% for insured borrowers and lowered the allowable amortization period from 40 years to 35 years.”

The reason for dwindling influence, according to the economists, is that each round of mortgage rule changes has specifically targeted borrowers who require mortgage insurance.

“This incented a shift away from high loan-to-value mortgages into conventional mortgages,” the economists wrote. “New loans that require homebuyer’s insurance now account for less than 20% of all new chartered bank mortgage originations, compared to 40% prior to 2008. So, each round of policy changes has targeted a shrinking share of the overall market.”

The Bank of Canada claims insured mortgage originations fell 43% in 2016 and early 2017 from the peak in late 2015.

However, that shrinking share was up by a growing number of Canadians relying on conventional mortgages.

Looking forward, it seems federal policymakers aren’t quite finished with their market tinkering.

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Services (OSFI) has proposed additional rules in the form of income tests for all borrowers at a rate of 2% higher than the contracted rate.

And that policy is expected to temper housing demand even further.

“ … if the new measures are put into place, which will cause buyers in the former group to adjust their behaviour by coming up with a bigger down payment, opting for a lower priced purchase, scaling back other debt, or delaying a home purchase altogether,” the economists wrote. “In the year of implementation, we estimate that this new rule could depress demand by 5% to 10%, and shave 2% to 4% off of our current forecast for the average price level in 2018. This will be yet another force limiting price growth in the future.”

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Canadians still bullish on real estate

The good times will continue to roll on for investors in Toronto and Vancouver – whether you’re a landlord or a flipper.

“High demand and low supply continued to characterize Vancouver’s and Toronto’s housing markets throughout 2015 as competition from buyers over the limited inventory of single-family homes pushed prices higher,” RE/MAX said in its housing outlook for 2016. “The average residential sale price increased 17 per cent in Greater Vancouver and 10 per cent in the Greater Toronto Area, to approximately $947,350 and $622,150, respectively.”

Price appreciation is expected to continue into 2016, according to RE/MAX, with prices expected to increase 7% in Greater Vancouver and 5% in the Greater Toronto Area.

That’s good news for investors of all colours; those looking to cash out in 2016 will surely make a profit. As for landlords, continued upward trajectory for home prices will price many out of purchasing and force them into the rental market.

Investors in other areas may have more cause for concern, however.

“Based on the projections for Canada’s key housing markets, RE/MAX expects the average home price in Canada to increase 2.5% in 2016,” said Gurinder Sandhu, Executive Vice President, RE/MAX INTEGRA Ontario-Atlantic Canada Region. “While we expect to see some price decreases, particularly in regions that rely on the oil and natural resource sectors, strong demand in Canada’s urban centres is expected to continue throughout next year.”

As for oil country – all is not bleak.

“In Alberta, a year after the sudden drop in oil prices, the housing markets have shown resilience,” said Elton Ash, Regional Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada. “With oil price volatility continuing to make buyers feel uncertain, we do expect the average sale price to decrease next year, by 3.5 per cent in Edmonton and four per cent in Calgary.”

Are you looking to invest in property? If you like, we can get one of our mortgage experts to tell you exactly how much you can afford to borrow, which is the best mortgage for you or how much they could save you right now if you have an existing mortgage. Click here to get help choosing the best mortgage rate

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