Happy 2017 Everyone!
Wow!! Where did January go? Just like that it is almost Spring in Vancouver! (Although, I hear we might have a bit more Winter/Snow coming this weekend). I am reaching out with an update on the many changes/announcements in the mortgage industry over the last few months. Don’t worry – when I say “politics” in the subject here, I mean Canadian and BC politics – No Trump talk here!!!
There have been a number of mortgage policy announcements, rate changes, and Government program launches/changes recently. If you are overwhelmed and tired of hearing about mortgages and real estate, you are not alone!! I am hoping that I can help to “clear the clutter” and offer some explanations for what’s really happening.
Here is a summary of the major items and some links to resources if you want to read more and dig deeper!
October 2016 – Federal Government Mortgage Changes:
On October 3rd, 2016 the Federal Government announced changes to mortgages in Canada that have impacted how much borrowers qualify to borrow and the types of mortgages that can be insured. The changes were extensive and were rolled out in two stages. Click Here for my blog post outlining the changes in detail and here for my initial email/reaction to the changes. This video also helps break down what happened and why!
Generally speaking, there has been confusion about the changes. December 2016 saw all lenders change policies for all mortgage lending and increase fixed interest rates across the board to help cover extra costs associated with the new government policies!
Just this week, a parliamentary committee has convened in Ottawa to review the changes. This review is the result of a HUGE out pouring of concern by the Mortgage Broker industry, the banks and consumers in general, regarding the policies. Mortgage Professionals Canada (MPC), the national industry association for Mortgage Brokers, will be presenting a paper in Ottawa this week that outlines the concerns we have for the industry and for consumers. To quote MPC:
“Put simply, the government has made too many changes in too short a period of time. It appears that the Ministry of Finance, OSFI and CMHC are working toward a common goal but are not aligned in their strategy.”
The primary message from all parties is that the changes were perhaps too much all at once and overall they reduce competition and harm consumers. Click to read the full submission from MPC……It is a long, but interesting read! (OK – maybe not so interesting unless you are a “mortgage geek” like me!!)
B.C. Government Home Loan Program
On December 15th, 2016 the BC Government announced a program to help First Time Buyers with an interest free loan to be use towards a down payment. The program details can be found HERE. The first applications for this “free” money started being accepted on January 15, 2017. The loan comes with costs and is technically not free, but it can be beneficial for some buyers. As everyone’s situation is very different, please contact me directly to talk about your particular needs and to see if this loan program might be a fit for you!!
CMHC – Insurance Premium Increases
On January 17, 2017, CMHC announced mortgage insurance premiums will increase effective March 17, 2017. Overall the increases were quite minimal. The biggest impact will be felt by buyers with a 5 – 10% down payment and especially where some of the down payment is from non-traditional (borrowed) sources.(FYI – the BC Home Loan is a “borrowed source” of down payment and = higher mortgage insurance premiums). I published a blog post here that outlines the premium changes and gives some examples of the impact.
Foreign Buyer Tax
The big story this past summer was the introduction by the BC Government of a 15% Foreign Buyer tax on home purchases made by foreign buyers. There were some issues with the way the tax was implemented (with just 6 days warning) and also in that the policy included Permanent Residents to Canada who might have been working and living here for several years. This past weekend, the BC Government announced an amendment to the tax whereby residents holding a work permit and filing taxes in Canada, will now be exempt. We continue to await further details. This article in the Financial Post outlines the latest press release by Premier Christy Clark. CLICK HERE Stay tuned for more details as we get them…..
Bank of Canada Rate – No Changes
The most recent Bank of Canada Announcement was on January 18th, 2017 and no changes were made. You will find the details of that announcement here.
Prime is still 2.70%! We can still get Variable Rate mortgages at prime MINUS 0.35% to 0.50%. (IE: 2.20% 5 year Variable rate still exists). The fixed rate mortgage rates increased in December and there is now tiered pricing with all lenders depending on down payment, property type, and amortization. A standard “rate sheet” is now super tricky as every deal will have different nuances and in the world of mortgages since October 3rd, 2016, different deals = different rates!!
Increased BC Home Owner Grant Threshold
The Government of British Columbia released news on January 10th, 2017 that they have increased the home owner grant threshold from $1.2M to $1.6M, a 33% increase over last year. The goal was to help keep property taxes affordable, and to ensure all those who received the grant in 2016 will also receive it in 2017. Yes, I blogged about this too and you can find details here!
Phew – if you made it through all that and you are still reading – THANK YOU!! That was quite honestly a lot of stuff to cover.
As always, please reach out to me directly to ask questions and to discuss your personal situation. Today, more than ever, each mortgage borrower will face different policies, rates and products. As an Independent Mortgage Broker, I can offer you those choices and options.
All the best,