Canadian Mortgage Industry in the MediaIn recent weeks, there have been numerous articles in the national media on the state of the Canadian mortgage industry. Issues regarding the impact of longer amortizations and a perceived failure to anticipate the effects of various mortgage products have been at the forefront.
All Canadians Should Be Aware Of The Following Important Facts
1. Arrears and default rates remain low in Canada particularly when compared to the U.S. Canadian mortgage holders have on average over 50% equity in their properties. For all home owners, (those with and those without a mortgage), the equity ratio exceeds 70%;
2. Longer amortization periods and 100% LTV mortgages do not equate to subprime or alternative mortgages which are based on a borrower's credit worthiness. Relatively few outstanding mortgages in Canada have 40 year amortization periods – only six percent or just over 300,000 mortgage holders out of 5.25 million;
3. Mortgage products in Canada are transparent. Mortgagors with a variable rate product know their rate and most have the option to convert to a fixed rate product. In the past year, 40% of mortgage holders took out a variable rate mortgage with the expectation that declining rates will continue to drop. This is in stark contrast to the U.S. where the resetting of option ARM mortgages means millions of mortgage holders have been and will continue to face higher rates;
4. A rise in default rates in Canada is not apparent. It's a fact that the economy is slowing; however if borrowers find themselves with financial difficulties, it will most likely be a result of their employment situation rather than their mortgage product;
5. Differences between the Canadian and U.S. markets remain. The option ARMs that have and continue to be reset to higher rates are not common in Canada. Those who hold variable and even fixed rate products in Canada are now doing so in a declining interest rate environment. A greater percentage of mortgages in Canada are funded by balance sheet lenders than in the U.S. Subprime or alternative lending products were never as common in Canada;
6. Canada has a rich history of mortgage insurance. Nearly half of all mortgages obtained in any given year are insured with a second approval process for mortgage applications. Underwriting principles and guidelines in Canada, while not perfect, are more thorough than in the U.S.;
7. Regulation for Canadian mortgage brokers and agents is more stringent than in the U.S. Several provinces have recently updated or are in the process of updating their origination legislation including Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nova Scotia. There are now license requirements and in most provinces education and disclosure requirements. This will ultimately lead to enhanced professionalism in our industry and added security for Canadian borrowers.
Statistics Source: CAAMP's Annual State of the Residential Mortgage Market in Canada, by CAAMP Chief Economist Will Dunning.