CMHC changes mortgage rules in the COVID-19 era

Monday Jul 06th, 2020


Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is a Canadian Corporation that offers mortgage liquidity, housing assistance, advice, and research assistance to the Canadian citizens, the government, and the real estate industry.

The CMHC is a crucial part of the Canadian administration because it administers the Covered Bond Legal Framework. Its key responsibilities are to register and maintain a list of issuers and programs and set up the Covered Bonds Guide. It is dedicated to helping people with house rentals, investments, and buying. The Toronto Condo Team is one of the real estate brokers that has stood by the CMHC regulations for years and is one of Canada's trusted brokers.

Why do people need CMHC?

The CMHC is the primary institution that helps regulate real estate prices, including those of rentals, investments, and mortgages. It is hugely responsible for securing the housing rights and mortgages of thousands of Canadians.

These unambiguous and unbiased rules allow the people of Canada to peacefully invest, buy, sell, rent, or mortgage their real estate assets. This makes the CMHC an invaluable institution.

What are the steps taken by the CMHC in the Covid-19 era?

With the Covid-19 situation at hand, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation released various new changes in the mortgage insurance rules. This comes as their response to the pandemic situation to assist people in these tough financial times. In such a situation, even if there are Toronto condos for sale, people need some assistance in managing their funds to invest in properties.

The rules announced will aim at reducing the debt that is required to be carried by an applicant. These will also include an increased credit score that will be needed for CMHC insurance. Buyers, however, are required to use their capital for the down payment.

These rules aim to provide financial assistance in the COVID period, which has burnt a hole in many pockets.

The financial markets are in a vulnerable position and require some rigid rules to safeguard individuals' economies. The CMHC CEO and President, Evan Siddall, has made it clear that the Canadians will greatly benefit from these new mortgage rules. The insurance offered by CMHC is designed to protect lenders in case homeowners are unable to meet their mortgage payments.

For example, if someone pays less than 20% of the whole amount, the insurance is mandatory. However, this does not apply to purchases above a million. These new rules are dedicated to a common aim. This is to bring stability to the real estate markets by ensuring that the demand decreases and the prices for Toronto condos and other properties fall.

What do these rules say?

The first change comes in the area of debts. Earlier, people with decent credit scores were able to spend 39% of their income on property-related finances. These included mortgage, taxes, and other bills like electricity, heating, etc. They were also able to borrow 44% of the income for these purposes. Now, buyers have a limit of spending 35% of their total income on properties. They will be allowed to borrow only 42% or less of their income after other loans are counted in this.

The next change is mostly around the credit score. According to the old rules, a borrower required a credit score of 600 that counted as a mere "fair credit." This was necessary to qualify for insured mortgages for their Toronto condos. The new rule states that the minimum credit score requirement has been raised. The new minimum score is 680, which is labeled as a "good" credit score.

Down payments

The final change is to do with down payments. Initially, a buyer could use personal loans, credit cards, and other credit methods to arrange funds. These were used for the down payment of the purchases, say Toronto condos. This was 5% for properties valued till $500,000 and at 10% for prices till $1 million. The current rule has made a major change in the industry. There is a mandate that the buyer has to make the down payment from his resources. These cannot include borrowed funds. These funds are normally procured from the sale of assets, savings, liquid financial assets, or from a grant from the government.

The rules regarding the mortgage stress test remain untouched. This means that lenders should be able to confirm that the borrowers will be able to make their monthly payments. This is regardless of the situation of a hike in the interest rates.

How will these new rules affect prospective homebuyers?

These new rules are hearing opinions from various people. Some economists have noted that these changes could make it difficult for buyers to enter the market. This may also make it tough to splurge on properties like Toronto condos.

The GDS and the credit score changes will greatly impact the homebuyers’ affordability. Brokerage companies like Toronto Condo Team have stated that it is quite possible that there will be a major drop in the number of buyers post these changes. The ban on borrowed funds might not see a big impact on the industry. Canadians usually invest in properties using their savings and family assistance.

What’s included and what’s not?

These new rules announced by CMHC do not apply to the private mortgage insurers. They can adopt these changes voluntarily if they want to. Private insurers could be the best hopes for homebuyers who are looking to buy Toronto Condos or other expensive properties. These properties in markets like Vancouver and Toronto are very expensive. In fact, borrowers in these markets usually have high debt ratios.

Some people are critical of these new CMHC rules. This is because they feel that it will negatively affect people in these tough financial times with the public restrictions making things more difficult. Some had said that these rules should not have been introduced during a time when people were already troubled. There are concerns that the per household debt levels might rise after these new rules are implemented. This might increase the risk of defaulted payments by owners. This would be the result of them being unable to stretch their monthly budget any further.

The CMHC has said that these new rules are bound to protect all buyers. This will also efficiently reduce the risk faced by the government and the taxpayers. The best effect will be seen when there is evident stability in the real estate market. These changes will be due to these new rules. CMHC hopes that these rules will effectively reduce the real estate demand and increasing prices.

Summing Up

The CMHC has taken some bold steps to mark the new Covid-19 era. These rules may not have appealed to a large part of the industry. It is aimed to bring relief, stability, and consistency to the real estate market. These new rules aimed at reducing demand and property rates are moderately strict so that a balance can be struck.

Brokerage companies have stated that the sale of Toronto condos may reduce largely because of the stringent rules. The critics have said that these strict rules may even overburden buyers in the market. The Housing Corporation still stands by its decision and confirms that the market will face positive changes. These changes have thus made changes that mark a completely new market era.

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