Jan 1st has come and gone, and wow was it a busy December. Most in the industry reported Jan 1st when the new stress test arrived (you can read more about the stress test by reading the previous article here). So, now that the new rules are in effect, how may you be impacted?
First off, its important to note that Credit Unions are NOT affected by the new guidelines as they are provincially regulated, not federally regulated. The Credit Unions have confirmed that they will not be following suit with the movement to change qualification criteria. Mortgage Brokers have never before been so important, being able to shop banks but also non-banks and Credit Unions to source loans.
Borrowing power with the bank is now reduced by about 20% for those choosing to take a 5 year fixed rate mortgage. All other terms were already stress tested, but previously choosing a 5 year fixed was a way to get around to tighter qualification guidelines and now that option has disappeared.
Some banks have confirmed that anyone with a contract dated prior to Jan 1, 2018 will be grandfathered under the old rules. This is important for those of you who have presales completing in the next few years. There was no clarity on this rule for many banks until very close to the deadline. In some cases, as late as Dec 29th!
One item that is interesting here is that shorter term rates like variable and 1-3 year fixed terms will now qualify at a lower interest rate, which will incentivize some borrowers to take shorter term rates. This is something that is likely an unintended consequence of the new rules and likely something that the government didn’t quite think through when introducing the new rules. One of the last things the government wants is for borrowers to be assuming short term debts in an environment where interest rates are so low and rates rising too quickly will have many of these borrowers seeing increases to their payments in just 1-2 years instead of ~ 5 years (as many borrowers were previously to maximize borrowing power).
All in all, these rules are intended to make it harder to qualify, yes, but are also here to protect the value of your real estate assets from a collapse like what was seen down in the US in the subprime crisis. If you are seeking financing, it may be wise to jump in sooner rather than later as the Credit Unions may see more volume than they can handle and start to taper their guidelines as well.