MBRCC Releases New Guide For Mortgage Licensing

The Mortgage Broker Regulators’ Council of Canada releases guidance on licensing education standards

The Mortgage Broker Regulators’ Council of Canada (MBRCC) has released a new Mortgage Education and Accreditation Standards User Guide (User Guide) to help providers of courses in the mortgage broking industry achieve consistency in licensing education across the country.

The User Guide is an important step in the MBRCC’s efforts to foster a comprehensive accreditation process for mortgage professionals across Canada. It is based on identified learning outcomes and competencies required for all mortgage broking licensing courses across the country.

“Each province establishes the licensing requirements for mortgage brokers within their jurisdiction, including education requirements,” says Cory Peters, Chair of MBRCC.

“The harmonized standards outlined in our User Guide will help ensure licensed mortgage brokers across Canada are equipped with the skills, knowledge and competency levels needed to better protect the interests of consumers and strengthen industry integrity,” he added.

The User Guide outlines requirements related to curriculum, course exams, course administration and infrastructure. It also promotes:

  • Instructional design, development and delivery of mortgage education;
  • Regulator’s course accreditation requirements; and
  • Expectations for licensee competency and professionalism.

The User Guide will not supersede existing legislation or regulatory requirements in any jurisdiction. The MBRCC has recommended that the Standards be implemented over a period of up to four years to provide regulators and course providers ample time to prepare.

Going forward, jurisdictions will report courses they have accredited to the MBRCC, which will maintain a roster of approved courses and their providers.

“Mortgage broker” is a widely used term. Depending on the type of licence and the province in which it was issued, the licensed professional brokering a mortgage transaction may be a mortgage broker, sub mortgage broker, associate mortgage broker or mortgage agent.

About the MBRCC:

The MBRCC is comprised of regulators across Canada responsible for administering mortgage broker legislation and regulating the industry in their respective jurisdictions. The MBRCC provides Canada’s mortgage broker regulators with a forum to work cooperatively, better share information and coordinate engagement of stakeholders to identify trends and develop solutions to common regulatory issues.

SOURCE Mortgage Broker Regulators’ Council of Canada

Canadians choosing fixed-rate mortgages in 2018 as mortgage rates expected to increase

Today, LowestRates.ca, an online rate comparison platform for auto insurance and mortgages, released a report showing that the number of Canadians who applied for a fixed-rate mortgage in January and February saw a substantial spike. Of LowestRates.ca users applying for a mortgage, 64.4% in January and 54.6% in February opted for a fixed-rate mortgage over a variable-rate, increases of 20 percentage points and 10 percentage points, respectively. The spike comes after the Bank of Canada increased their interest rate to 1.25% on January 14 of this year.

In the past, trends have shown that the majority of users on LowestRates.ca, who process tens of thousands of mortgage quotes annually, have gone with a variable-rate mortgage. However, since July 2017, when the Bank of Canadaannounced a 25 basis point hike, the number of consumers locking in a fixed-rate mortgage has been consistently increasing.

“The key for Canadians is not to panic. For the past 30 years, mortgage rates have been trending downward,” said Justin Thouin, Co-founder and CEO of LowestRates.ca. “There have been brief periods of increase over that time, like we’re in right now, but a mortgage is a long-term investment and the long-term data tells us that a variable-rate mortgage is the best option.”

Historically, the majority of Canadians who shop for mortgage rates on LowestRates.ca opt for variable-rate mortgages. Since January 2014, an average of 56.56% of users have gone variable, compared with 43.44% who chose a fixed-rate mortgage. The increase in fixed-rate mortgages locked in by Canadian consumers is seen by LowestRates.ca as a response to rate hikes, and fear of higher rates in the future.

Understanding The Impact of Rate Hikes

If a consumer purchases a home for $750,000 (with a down payment of 10 per cent amortized over 25 years), at a five-year, variable rate of 2.20%, they would have a total monthly mortgage interest payment of $3,025. If the Bank of Canada increases its overnight rate by 25 basis points, that homeowner’s monthly interest payment on their mortgage would be $3,111 — an increase of $86 per month.

That same homeowner using a fixed mortgage rate — the most competitive fixed product on LowestRates.ca last month was 3.03% — would have a total mortgage payment of $3,315.  While they can lock in that rate for five years, they’re still spending $290 a month more in interest when compared to the variable product, even after variable rates go up. A total of $3,480 a year in increased costs.

About LowestRates.ca

LowestRates.ca is an online rate comparison site for insurance, mortgages, loans and credit card rates in Canada. The free, independent service connects directly with financial institutions and providers from all over North America to provide Canadians with a comprehensive list of rates. LowestRates.ca wants to help everyone become more financially literate, with a goal of saving Canadians $1 billion in interest and fees.

SOURCE LowestRates.ca

BMO Extends Mortgage Rate Guarantee Period for Home Buyers

BMO Bank of Montreal announced today that it would be increasing the rate guarantee period for mortgages from 90 days to 130 days – the longest among all Canada’s major banks – amidst expectations for continued Bank of Canada rate hikes in 2018.

The change will benefit home buyers navigating an increasingly complicated market, and provide them additional time to finalize their mortgage plans with their guaranteed pre-approved rate.

“This change in our mortgage rate guarantee period could not be timelier for our customers,” said Martin Nel, Head, Personal and Small Business Banking, BMO Financial Group. “As always, we are listening and responding to their needs to help make their financial dreams a reality, while removing friction and uncertainty from the home buying process.”

Forecasting for the housing market also suggests why those looking to enter the market, or get into a new home, could benefit from the extended timeline.

“In the coming year, home buyers face tougher mortgage rules, a rising interest rate environment and uncertain housing markets in high-priced regions,” said Sal Guatieri, Senior Economist, BMO Bank of Montreal. “After pulling the rate trigger on January 17, we expect the Bank of Canada to raise policy rates two more times this year by a total of 50 basis points to address potential inflation risks stemming from an economy pushing against capacity limits.”

Mr. Guatieri noted that a tighter monetary policy, together with interest rate pressures arising from a stronger U.S. economy, will likely lift longer-term interest rates in Canada by one-half percentage point this year. An extended rate guarantee would give buyers more time to assess the impact of new mortgage rules on house prices in high-priced Toronto and Vancouver before making a decision.

For more information on BMO mortgages, please visit https://www.bmo.com/main/personal/mortgages/, or connect with a BMO Mortgage Specialist or visit your nearest BMO Branch.

About BMO Financial Group
Serving customers for 200 years and counting, BMO is a highly diversified financial services provider – the 8thlargest bank, by assets, in North America. With total assets of $728 billion as of January 31, 2018, and a team of diverse and highly engaged employees, BMO provides a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment banking products and services to more than 12 million customers and conducts business through three operating groups: Personal and Commercial Banking, BMO Wealth Management and BMO Capital Markets.

SOURCE BMO Financial Group

Four people arrested in Project Bridle Path, Mortgage Fraud Investigation

In Spring of 2013, members of Toronto Police Service Financial Crimes became involved in a sophisticated and complex mortgage fraud investigation into several high-end properties, the value of the fraud is estimated to be $17 million.

It is alleged that:

– mortgages were to be secured on properties, however they were never registered and were misrepresented to the lenders

– individuals and companies who were introduced as owners of the properties were not in fact the real owners

– false title insurance certificates and property insurance certificates were introduced, in part, to convince the legitimacy of the transactions

– multiple false title and home insurance policies were given to the lenders before the funds were released

After a lengthy investigation the following individuals were located and arrested by the Toronto Police Service Financial Crimes Unit.

On Tuesday, February 13, 2018, Arash Missaghi, 48, of Richmond Hill was arrested. He is charged with:

1. Fraud Over 5000
2. Conspiracy to commit and indictable offence
3. Accessory after the fact to an indictable offence
4. Uttering forged documents

On Monday, February 12, 2018, Grant Erlick, 45, of Toronto was arrested. He is charged with:

1. Fraud Over 5000
2. Conspiracy to commit and indictable offence
3. Accessory after the fact to an indictable offence
4. Money laundering

On Tuesday, February, 20, 2018, Masumeh Shaer-Valaie, 48, of Richmond Hill was arrested. He is charged with:

1. Fraud Over
2. Conspiracy to commit and indictable offence
3. Accessory after the fact to an indictable offence
4. Money laundering

On Wednesday, February 28, 2018, Bob Bahram Aziz Beiki, 53, of Toronto was arrested. He is charged with:

1. Forgery

They are all scheduled to appear in court at Old City Hall on Tuesday, March 6, 2018, in court room 111.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-7300, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at www.222tips.com, or text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637). Download the free Crime Stoppers Mobile App on iTunes, Google Play or Blackberry App World.

For more news, visit TPSnews.ca.


Constable Jenifferjit Sidhu, Corporate Communications, for Detective Alan Fazeli, Financial Crimes Unit – Corporate Crime Section

 

Canadian housing starts trend stable in January

The trend in housing starts was 224,865 units in January 2018, compared to 226,346 units in December 2017, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts.

“The national trend in housing starts held steady for a third consecutive month in January, remaining near the 10-year high set in December,” said Bob Dugan, CMHC’s chief economist. “This reflects higher starts of multi-unit dwellings in urban centres in recent months, which has offset lower starts of single-detached homes.”

Monthly highlights

Vancouver

Starts for all home types in the Vancouver CMA trended up in January, reaching a pace nearly double that of the same month last year. There were 2,599 housing starts across the region in January of 2018, as opposed to 1,334 in January of 2017. The North Shore was a particular hotspot for activity this month as a number of condominium and rental multi-family units got underway.

Kelowna

Housing starts in the Kelowna CMA saw an increase in January 2018, totaling 87 units, compared with 51 units in the same month last year. The increase was supported by new rental units getting underway, continuing with the trend seen throughout 2017. New housing construction, particularly for multi-unit dwellings, continues to be supported by strong population growth and a robust labour market.

Edmonton

Housing starts in the Edmonton CMA have been trending lower since peaking in July of last year. On a month-over-month seasonally-adjusted basis, single-family starts were up 2% in January compared to December while multi-family starts were up 38%. Much of the increase in multi-family construction was due to an increase in the apartment segment where inventory levels remain elevated.

Lethbridge

Total housing starts in Lethbridge increased in the first month of 2018 compared to January 2017 with gains in both the single-detached and multiples segments. However, despite the year-over-year increase, both the trend and the SAAR recorded declines in January compared to the previous month. Declining employment in the region through 2017 has reduced demand for housing and has impacted the pace of new home construction.

Guelph

January 2018 saw the highest number of apartment starts for any January since 1991. Since 2012, the proportion of single-detached and row starts lessened on a year-over-year basis as more apartments were built. Strong starts for apartment units in recent years can be partly attributed to rising costs of homeownership, rising immigration of young professionals to the area, and strong employment.

Toronto

For the second month in a row, housing starts in the Toronto CMA trended slightly lower. An increase in apartment starts partially offset the decline in single-detached housing starts. Increased supply in the resale market has resulted in less demand for new single-detached homes. Meanwhile new condominiums remain in high demand as home buyers flock to relatively lower priced homes, and investors seek to capitalize on low vacancy rates and increasing rents.

Barrie

Total starts trended higher in January, driven primarily by an influx of row unit starts in both the Town of Innisfil and the City of Barrie. Land scarcity in popular areas and affordability concerns have encouraged row unit construction, which saw the highest starts in 2017 since 1999. Strong labour market conditions and population growth remain supportive of the demand for new housing units going into 2018.

Kingston

The trend in Kingston CMA total housing starts has declined slightly for four consecutive months, after having been pulled up by high numbers of rental apartment starts in June 2017. This pullback is likely temporary, since high demand in the resale market and robust demand for rental accommodations point to a need for new supply.

Gatineau

In January, the number of new housing units that got under way was fairly high relative to the last few years, thanks to the construction of many units intended for the condominium market. The stronger housing demand and tighter resale market are therefore continuing to support residential construction in the area.

CMHC uses the trend measure as a complement to the monthly SAAR of housing starts to account for considerable swings in monthly estimates and obtain a more complete picture of Canada’s housing market. In some situations analyzing only SAAR data can be misleading, as they are largely driven by the multi-unit segment of the market which can vary significantly from one month to the next.

The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 216,210 units in January, essentially unchanged from 216,275 units in December. The SAAR of urban starts increased slightly by 0.2% in January to 198,400 units. Multiple urban starts essentially held steady at 134,685 units in January while single-detached urban starts increased by 0.6% to 63,715 units.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 17,810 units.

Preliminary Housing Starts data are also available in English and French through our website and through CMHC’s Housing Market Information Portal. Our analysts are also available to provide further insight into their respective markets.

As Canada’s authority on housing, CMHC contributes to the stability of the housing market and financial system, provides support for Canadians in housing need, and offers objective housing research and information to Canadian governments, consumers and the housing industry.

Bridging Finance Inc. Announces the Launch of the Bridging Real Estate Lending Fund LP

Bridging Finance Inc. (“Bridging Finance“) is pleased to announce the launch of its latest product, the Bridging Real Estate Lending Fund LP (the “Bridging Real Estate Lending Fund“) which will be available for sale as of March 9, 2018 through the IIROC dealer channel on FundSERV and to institutional investors.

The investment strategy of the Bridging Real Estate Lending Fund will be to invest in an actively managed portfolio of first and second ranked mortgage loans that are secured by real property used for commercial purposes in Canada. At the onset, the target market will be the Province of Ontario and will expand throughout Canada thereafter.

In addition, Bridging Finance is pleased to announce that it has entered into an agreement with MarshallZehr Group Inc. (“MarshallZehr“), a licensed mortgage brokerage (#12453) and mortgage administrator (#11955), to act as the mortgage administrator of the mortgages.

“We are very pleased to continue our growth and broaden our relationship with the team of professionals at MarshallZehr. We have been able to experience first-hand the quality of their work and integrity and are eager to work in collaboration with them on growing the Bridging Real Estate Lending Fund,” said David Sharpe, Chief Executive Officer of Bridging Finance.

“Bridging Finance has established itself as a leader of private debt financing in Canada and have built a great reputation with both investors and borrowers alike. We are thrilled to expand our relationship with Bridging Finance and look forward to working together on numerous projects,” said Gregory Zehr, Chief Executive Officer of MarshallZehr.

About MarshallZehr Group Inc.
Established in 2008, MarshallZehr is a privately held real estate lending firm formed under the laws of Ontario. Along with its principals which have a combined 50+ years of various experience in the real estate industry, MarshallZehr possesses expertise and experience in originating, underwriting, servicing and syndicating mortgage investments. MarshallZehr brings a fresh perspective, financing efficiency and active administration, to elevate opportunities and attract the right capital to enable business success for both borrowers and lenders. For more information, please visit marshallzehr.com

About Bridging Finance Inc.
Established in 2012, Bridging Finance is a privately held Canadian company providing middle-market North American companies with alternatives to the financing options offered by traditional lenders. Lending proceeds, typically ranging from $3 million to upwards of $50 million, are used by companies to address needs such as restructuring existing debt, providing working capital for growth, supporting inventory purchases and financing expenditures and acquisitions/buyouts.  Bridging Finance is the co-manager of the Sprott Bridging Income Fund LP and the Sprott Bridging RSP Fund, which invest in factoring/private debt loans that have a low correlation to traditional asset classes. Bridging Finance also offers portfolio management services for institutional clients and currently manages approximately $700 million of assets. For more information, please visit bridgingfinance.ca.

The units of the Bridging Real Estate Lending Fund (the “Units”) will not be qualified for sale to the public under applicable Canadian securities laws and, accordingly, any offer and sale of the Units in Canada will be made on a basis that is exempt from the prospectus requirements of such securities laws and only through registered dealers.

This news release shall not constitute an offer to sell the Units or the solicitation of an offer to buy the Units, nor will there be any sale of the Units, in any jurisdiction where such offer, solicitation or sale is not permitted.

SOURCE Bridging Finance Inc.

For further information: on Bridging Finance Inc.: David Sharpe, LLB, LLM, MBA, Chief Executive Officer, Bridging Finance Inc., C: (647) 981-5658, dsharpe@bridgingfinance.ca

NAI Terramont Commercial Announces Merger

In a merger of equals, NAI Commercial Montreal and Terramont Real Estate Services Inc., two of Montreal’s top commercial real estate firms, will join forces and beginning March 1 will operate as NAI Terramont Commercial. With the merger, the official NAI Global office in Montreal enters the top 5 firms serving the office, industrial, retail, tenant and investor market in Canada’s second biggest city, announced Paul-Eric Poitras, President of the newly formed entity NAI Terramont Commercial.

Poitras was President of NAI Commercial Montreal, which began operations in 2005 and as a company has primarily served industrial property owners and occupiers, as well as local, national and international commercial property investors and sellers. Since 1998 Terramont has been providing corporate real estate solutions for some of North America’s leading companies locally, nationally, across the U.S. and around the world. Terramont’s strength has historically been in the tenant representation and office leasing arenas. For international client services, Terramont had formerly been affiliated with Cresa Partners and later, TCN Worldwide.

NAI Terramont Commercial will initially consolidate offices into NAI Commercial’s location at 615 René-Lévesque Blvd W, Montreal, QC H3B 1P9, Canada. Combined, with 22 brokers NAI Terramont Commercial becomes the 5th largest commercial real estate services firm ranked by the number of brokers in Montreal.

“The combined firms are complementary in so many ways and the primary beneficiaries of the merger will be our respective clients, which will now have a single resource to provide all of their real estate needs regionally as well as nationally, and with NAI Global’s backing, globally,” said Paul-Eric Poitras.

Added Jean-Marc LeBlanc, who had been a Senior Vice President and co-founder of Terramont and now assumes the role of Senior Partner at NAI Terramont Commercial: “The strength and operating efficiency achieved by blending two great and entrepreneurial commercial real estate businesses will not only enable us to pursue new business that may have otherwise been out of reach for our firms individually, the merger also gives us fresh opportunity to consider acquisitions of other local and boutique commercial real estate companies and grow throughout Northeastern Canada.”

Other goals of the new company, according to Poitras, include establishing an alliance with a strong and local firm offering building management, project management, lease administration and legal services. The firm also intends to invest in technology on a regular basis to offer its clients and brokers the most advanced and mobile experience in the commercial real estate industry.

Michelle Moller, a former principal of Terramont, is one of the three managing partners of NAI Terramont along with LeBlanc and Poitras.

Jay Olshonsky, FRICS, SIOR and President of New York-based NAI Global, said he was thrilled to have an even better and bigger presence serving the Montreal marketplace.

“NAI Commercial Montreal has historically been one of the most active participants in our leadership groups and at global conferences, as well as being one of the most active trading partners in deal generation out of Canada with U.S. and other NAI firms worldwide. Adding the quality and depth of personnel that Terramont represents for us in Quebec Province is an absolute win-win for NAI Global,” Olshonsky said.

About NAI Terramont Commercial

NAI Commercial, under the banner of the NAI Global network, is one of the largest commercial real estate brokerage firms in Canada with nine offices spread across the country providing leadership and market insight to local, pan-Canadian and international investors. The newly formed NAI Terramont Commercial based in Montreal, Quebec, boasts an experienced and energized team of brokers, offering tailored brokerage services in the leasing and disposition of office, industrial and retail properties, as well as servicing the real estate investment market. To learn more, visit www.naiterramont.ca.

About NAI Global

NAI Global is a leading global commercial real estate brokerage firm. NAI Global offices are leaders in their local markets and work in unison to provide clients with exceptional solutions to their commercial real estate needs. NAI Global has more than 400 offices strategically located throughout North AmericaLatin AmericaEuropeAfrica and Asia Pacific, with over 7,000 local market professionals, managing in excess of over 425 million square feet of property.  Annually, NAI Global completes in excess of $20 billion in commercial real estate transactions throughout the world.

NAI Global provides a complete range of corporate and institutional real estate services, including brokerage and leasing, property and facilities management, real estate investment and capital market services, due diligence, global supply chain and logistics consulting and related advisory services.

To learn more, visit www.naiglobal.com or www.naiglobalnewslink.com

SOURCE NAI Terramont Commercial

For further information: Denise Parent, NAI Terramont Commercial, 514.866.3333 ext. 224 or dparent@naiterramont.ca; Gary Marsh, NAI Global Consultant, +1 415.999.3793 or gary@marshmarketing.com; Lindsay Fierro, NAI Global, +1 212.405.2474 or news@naiglobal.com

Daniel Drimmer Acquires Shares of True North Commercial REIT

Daniel Drimmer announced today that D.D. Acquisitions Partnership (the “Acquiror“) has acquired beneficial ownership of 78,500 trust units (“Units“) of True North Commercial Real Estate Investment (the “REIT“) pursuant to a public offering of 6,325,000 Units of the REIT at a price of $6.37 per Unit (the “Offering“) for gross proceeds of $40,290,250. The Acquiror is an Ontario general partnership, the principal business of which is to make investments with its head office at 1400-3280 Bloor Street West, Centre Tower, Toronto, ON M8X 2X3 and controlled by Mr. Drimmer.

The Acquiror acquired an aggregate of 78,500 Units for aggregate consideration of $500,045 representing approximately 0.15% of the issued and outstanding Units based on 51,964,097 Units outstanding as of March 1, 2018, following the completion of the Offering and after giving effect to the exchange of all outstanding class B limited partnership units (“Class B LP Units“) of True North Commercial Limited Partnership (a limited partnership controlled by the REIT) for Units on a one-for-one basis. After giving effect to the Units acquired by the Acquiror pursuant to the Offering, the percentage of Units owned and controlled by the Offeror decreased to approximately 9.15% of the issued and outstanding Units (based on 51,964,097 Units outstanding as of March 1, 2018, after giving effect to the exchange of all Class B LP Units on a one-for-one basis).  Because the Acquiror now exercises ownership and control over less than 10% of the issued and outstanding Units, it is no longer subject to ongoing early warning or insider reporting requirements in respect of its ownership of Units.

The Acquiror, together with Daniel Drimmer and Drimmer Holdings Ltd. and PD Kanco LP (each controlled by Daniel Drimmer and having the same principal business and head office, and collectively, the “Offeror“), owned and controlled 3,849,180 Units and 828,123 Class B Units representing approximately 10.25% of the issued and outstanding Units based on 45,639,097 Units outstanding as of February 28, 2018 prior to the completion of the Offering and after giving effect to the exchange of all outstanding Class B LP Units for Units on a one-for-one basis.

The Units are being acquired for investment purposes. Subject to various factors including, without limitation, the REIT’s financial position, the price of Units, market conditions, the Acquiror’s determinations from time to time as to whether the trading price of the Units adequately reflects the value of the Units in relation to the REIT’s activities and future prospects, and other factors and conditions the Acquiror deems appropriate, the Acquiror may acquire additional Units or may dispose of any or all of its Units, from time to time through, among other things, the purchase or sale of Units on the open market or in private transactions or otherwise, on such terms and at such times as the Acquiror may deem advisable. The REIT’s address is 1400-3280 Bloor Street West, Centre Tower, Toronto, ON M8X 2X3.

For further information and to obtain a copy of the early warning report to be filed under applicable Canadian securities laws in connection with the foregoing matters, please see the REIT’s profile on SEDAR at www.sedar.com or use the contact information below.

SOURCE Daniel Drimmer

For further information: Daniel Drimmer, 1400-3280 Bloor Street West, Centre Tower Toronto, ON M8X 2X3, (416) 234-8444

1 in 4 Retired Canadians living with debt

A worry-free retirement may be a thing of the past as Canadians struggle to manage debt. From living with a mortgage to unpaid credit cards, retirees can find themselves facing financial challenges in their golden years.The Sun Life Financial Barometer, a new national survey, found that one-in-four (25%) retirees are facing such challenges and living with debt.

Baby boomers are no stranger to today’s increased financial demand; in fact, one-in-five (20%) retirees are still making mortgage payments. The financial strain doesn’t stop there, the survey results reveal that retirees still use credit in some of the same ways they did before retirement. Mortgage aside, here’s where they still owe money:

  • 66% have unpaid credit cards;
  • 26% are making car payments;
  • 7% have unpaid health expenses;
  • 7% owe money on holiday expenses or vacation property; and
  • 6% haven’t paid off home renovations.

“Through our national survey, we took a moment to check-in with Canadians and gauge how they are stacking up when it comes to their finances,” said Jacques Goulet, President, Sun Life Financial Canada. “From credit card debt to a mortgage, retirees are faced with a list of expenses in life after work. We recognize that managing finances can be overwhelming, particularly for those who are no longer working. Seeking sound advice and working with a financial advisor can help you reach your goals.”

At the same time retirees face lingering debt, almost one-quarter (24%) of working Canadians are dipping into their retirement savings. Canadians pulled cash for the following reasons:

  • 63% did so because they needed to (e.g., health expenses, debt repayment);
  • 24% as part of the First Time Home Buyers’ Plan; and
  • 13% because they wanted to (e.g., vacation, car purchase).

“Our survey results highlight the importance of getting ready for retirement,” explains Tom Reid, Senior Vice-President, Group Retirement Services, Sun Life Financial Canada. “Although it can seem far away, retirement creeps up faster than you think – building a financial plan and making meaningful contributions will pay off in the long run. There are helpful tools and resources you can tap into to get on the right track to building the income you want and need to retire.”

The following tips can help Canadians save for a bright retirement:

  1. Start now. Begin saving and investing as early as possible to set yourself up for success.
  2. Don’t leave money on the table. If your employer offers a pension plan and will match your contributions, contribute the maximum amount possible.
  3. Invest wisely. If you do not have access to a defined contribution plan, RRSPs and TFSAs are other great vehicles to consider.
  4. Have a plan and stick to it. It’s never too late to build a financial plan that will get you where you want to be.
  5. Seek valuable advice. A financial advisor can help you create a financial plan, set achievable goals, and guide you through each life stage.

 

About the survey
The Sun Life Financial Barometer is based on findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between October 13 and October 19, 2017. A sample of 2,900 Canadians was drawn from the Ipsos I-Say online panel: 2,900 Canadians from 20 to 80 years of age. The data for Canadians surveyed was weighted to ensure the sample’s regional, age, and gender composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population.

The precision of Ipsos online poll is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/- 2.1% at 95% confidence level had all Canadian adults been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to methodological change, coverage error and measurement error.

About Sun Life Financial
Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing insurance, wealth and asset management solutions to individual and corporate Clients. Sun Life Financial has operations in a number of markets worldwide, including Canadathe United States, the United KingdomIrelandHong Kongthe PhilippinesJapanIndonesiaIndiaChinaAustraliaSingaporeVietnamMalaysia and Bermuda. As of December 31, 2017, Sun Life Financial had total assets under management (“AUM”) of $975 billion. For more information please visit www.sunlife.com.

All figures in Canadian dollars except as otherwise noted.

SOURCE: Sun Life Financial Canada

Equitable Bank launches PATH Home Plan

Equitable Bank, a subsidiary of Equitable Group Inc., announced today the launch of its PATH Home Plan, an equity release solution that gives Canadian homeowners, aged 55 and over, a new option to unlock the equity in their homes.

With continued retirement income uncertainty amongst a growing population of aging Canadians, the PATH Home Plan provides a solution to maintain their financial security.

“Canadians deserve options when it comes to their financial well-being as they age, and we want to help homeowners stay in control, while still living in their homes,” says Kim Kukulowicz, Vice President of Residential Sales and Partner Relations, Equitable Bank. “The PATH Home Plan allows homeowners to access the equity out of their greatest asset – their home – to continue enjoying life’s precious moments and to maintain the lifestyle that they are accustomed to.”

Equitable Bank’s PATH Home Plan will initially be available to homeowners in AlbertaBritish Columbia and Ontariothrough mortgage brokers.

“For a long time, Canadians have had limited choices to access the equity in their homes,” says Kukulowicz. “Now, they can sit down with an experienced and well-established mortgage broker network, and get the right guidance and personalized options that meet their needs.”

Equity release solutions, also known as reverse mortgages, are widely used in other countries, such as the United KingdomAustralia and the United States, and with a rapidly-growing senior segment in Canada, Equitable Bank believes that it can help more Canadian homeowners maintain their financial security, while staying in their homes.

Consistent with Equitable Bank’s strategic vision of being Canada’s Challenger Bank™, the PATH Home Plan will continue to diversify the business, while helping more Canadians reach their financial goals. “We have been studying the equity release market with interest for several years,” says Andrew Moor, President and Chief Executive Officer, Equitable Bank. “With the combination of favourable demographics, increased home equity values and less support from traditional defined benefit pension plans, we believe that the PATH Home Plan will provide a valuable option to Canadian seniors, generate attractive returns for our shareholders, and further strengthen our business.”

Visit www.equitablebank.ca/path to learn more and speak with a mortgage broker to assess if the PATH Home Plan is the right solution for you.

About Equitable Group Inc.
Equitable Group Inc. is a growing Canadian financial services business that operates through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Equitable Bank. Equitable Bank, Canada’s Challenger Bank™, is Canada’s ninth largest independent Schedule I bank and offers a diverse suite of residential lending, commercial lending and savings solutions to Canadians. Through its proven branchless approach and customer service focus, Equitable Bank has grown to almost $23 billion of Assets Under Management. EQ Bank, the digital banking arm of Equitable Bank, provides state-of-the-art digital banking services to more than 43,000 Canadians. Equitable Bank employs nearly 600 dedicated professionals across the country, and is a 2018 recipient of Canada’s Best Employer Platinum Award, the highest bestowed by AON. For more information about Equitable Bank and its products, please visit EquitableBank.ca.

SOURCE Equitable Bank

HomEquity Bank Posts Record 2017 Growth in Reverse Mortgages

HomEquity Bank, the national provider of the CHIP Reverse Mortgage™, posted record mortgage growth in 2017 with 32.5 per cent year over year growth. Reverse mortgage originations of $608MM for 2017 were driven by increased consumer familiarity with HomEquity Bank’s flagship product as well as the growing need for consumers to finance their retirement in new ways.

HomEquity Bank’s record results also reflect a strong partnership with Canada’s mortgage brokers. In 2017, brokers were the bank’s fastest growing referral source increasing by 55 per cent. HomEquity Bank also doubled the number of consumer product inquiries that came in through their website and call centers.

“The sustained strength of Canada’s real estate market has increased the confidence of Canadian homeowners in reverse mortgages,” said Steven Ranson, HomEquity Bank’s president and CEO.  “That means proactive equity release is a more attractive solution than ever for Canadians planning for retirement.”

“2017 was an exceptional year for our bank and for our clients,” Ranson added. “As the Canadian population continues to age, there is clear demand among Canadians aged 55 and older, to unlock the equity they’ve accrued in their homes. We are continuing to change the conversation about how reverse mortgages fit into Canadians’ comprehensive retirement plans and have a positive outlook for continued, long-term growth in 2018 and beyond.”

About HomEquity Bank

HomEquity Bank, a federally-regulated, Schedule 1 Canadian bank, is the only national provider of the CHIP Reverse Mortgage™ solution. Founded 30 years ago, HomEquity Bank has been helping Canadian homeowners aged 55+ access the value of the equity they have in their homes, maintaining ownership of their home, until they make the decision to sell.

HomEquity Bank has partnered with the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) Canada’s largest non-profit, non-partisan advocacy association for Canadians As We Age. CARP now recommends HomEquity Bank’s CHIP Reverse Mortgage™ as a smart and comprehensive solution for Canadians planning for retirement.

HomEquity Bank has ranked on the Canadian Business and PROFIT’s 28th and 29th annual PROFIT 500 list, the definitive ranking of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies.

HomEquity has also been recognized as an Aon Best Employer – Canada 2017.

SOURCE HomEquity Bank

Mortgage Professionals Canada discusses negative impact of new rules on canadian housing market

Members of Canada’s national mortgage industry association were pleased to have had the opportunity to meet with over 50 Members of Parliament and senior government officials over the past two days. Members discussed issues of housing affordability, availability and accessibility as well as the negative impacts that the recent mortgage rule changes are having and will continue have on Canadian consumers.

“We are concerned that the cumulative impact of recent mortgage changes are slowing housing market activity, decreasing competition and increasing costs for consumers,” said Paul Taylor, President and CEO of Mortgage Professionals Canada. “That said, we have been encouraged that Members of Parliament are listening to our concerns, and we continue to inform them of the positive role mortgage brokers play in the market”.

Mortgage Professionals Canada acknowledges that the initial objective of the changes was to cool down certain markets and there are signs that this is being achieved, at least in the Greater Toronto Area and to a lesser extent the Greater Vancouver Area. However, there is evidence of reductions in housing activity, both sales and housing starts, in areas of the country that were already moderate, flat or even declining.

CMHC’s insured volumes fell 34% in the first six months of 2017. This number is indicative of a reduction in home purchases by young Canadians from middle and low income families, and first time home buyers. As the voice of Canada’s national mortgage industry, the association is concerned that the combination of the changes, and the speed with which they have been cumulatively implemented, have created some adverse effects which could cause a potentially significant decline in housing activity nationally. This will be accelerated by the recent OSFI decision to add a stress test to all uninsured mortgages.

Mortgage Professionals Canada is the national mortgage industry association whose members include mortgage brokers, mortgage lenders, mortgage insurers and industry service providers. The association represents over 11,500 individual members and over 1,000 businesses across Canada.

SOURCE Mortgage Professionals Canada

MPAC Delivers Nearly 900,000 Property Assessment Notices Across Ontario

The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) will begin mailing nearly 900,000 Property Assessment Notices to property owners across Ontario to reflect changes in assessment that have taken place over the last year.

While 2017 is not a province-wide Assessment Update year, MPAC continues to review properties and is legislatively responsible for updating property information in order to return an accurate Assessment Roll for 2018 taxation.

This year, property owners will receive a Notice from MPAC if there has been:

  • change to property ownership, legal description, or school support;
  • change to the property’s value resulting from a Request for Reconsideration, an Assessment Review Board decision, or ongoing property reviews;
  • property value increase/decrease reflecting a change to the property; for example, a new structure, addition, or removal of an old structure; or
  • change in the classification or tax liability of the property.

“Assessing all properties in a fair and consistent way matters to us because we know how important this information is to the communities we serve,” said Rose McLean, MPAC President and Chief Administrative Officer. “The Property Assessment Notices we begin mailing today will help ensure property information is accurately reflected on municipal assessment rolls.”

MPAC encourages property owners who receive a Notice this year to login to aboutmyproperty.ca by using the Roll Number and unique Access Key on their Notice. Aboutmyproperty.ca provides easy access to the information MPAC has on file for a property and can help owners compare their assessment to others in their area.

Property owners who receive a 2017 Property Assessment Notice and disagree with their assessment have until April 2, 2018 to submit a Request for Reconsideration (RfR) with MPAC – free of charge. For greater convenience, RfRs can also be filed directly through aboutmyproperty.ca.

Quick Facts

  • In 2016, every property owner in Ontario received a Property Assessment Notice as the result of a province-wide Assessment Update, reflecting a January 1, 2016 valuation date. The 2016 assessed value will be the basis for property taxes for the 2017-2020 property tax years.
  • MPAC continues to review and update property assessment information in non-Assessment Update years. Properties change ownership, new homes or additions are built, structures are removed or demolished and properties change use. Notices are mailed each year to reflect these changes.
  • In 2017, MPAC delivered more than $37 billion in taxable assessment growth to municipalities across Ontario.

About MPAC

The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) is an independent, not-for-profit corporation funded by all Ontario municipalities, accountable to the Province, municipalities and property taxpayers through its 13-member Board of Directors. Our role is to accurately assess and classify all properties in Ontario in compliance with the Assessment Act and regulations set by the Government of Ontario. We are the largest assessment jurisdiction in North America, assessing and classifying more than five million properties with an estimated total value of $2.4 trillion.

MPAC’s province-wide Assessment Updates of property values have met international standards of accuracy. Our assessors are trained experts in the field of valuation and apply appraisal industry standards and best practices. Our assessments and data are also used by banks, insurance companies and the real estate industry.

For more information about 2017 Property Assessment Notices mailed this fall, visit mpac.ca.

SOURCE Municipal Property Assessment Corporation

Bank of Canada’s Poloz – Three Things Keeping Me Awake at Night

Remarks
Canadian Club Toronto
Toronto, Ontario

Introduction

The holiday season is traditionally a time to reflect on the events of the past year, and to look ahead at what may be in store for next year. Speaking from an economic perspective, I think we can look back at 2017 with considerable satisfaction. And 2018 is looking positive, too.

The Canadian economy is on pace for about 3 per cent growth in 2017, which would be the strongest among the Group of Seven economies. Most sectors and regions are now participating. Over 350,000 full-time jobs have been created so far this year, and wages have recently shown signs of picking up. This is supporting robust consumer spending.

Exports and business investment have long been the laggards in our recovery story. Encouragingly, though, business investment has grown for the past three quarters in a row. As well, the government’s infrastructure program is becoming increasingly evident in the data. In contrast, exports have not been stellar. They started the year strong, but faltered during the summer. Nevertheless, the most recent data show a broad-based upturn, supporting our forecast that—after looking through all the noise—exports will continue to be pulled along by rising foreign demand.

That brings me to inflation, our policy anchor. Inflation spent the year within our
1 to 3 per cent target band, although it has tended to fall a little short of the 2 per cent midpoint. We did a lot of work this year to satisfy ourselves that our fundamental understanding of inflation remains valid. It does, once you take account of short-term effects in the data.

I have talked before about the process of bringing the economy back home—at the intersection of full capacity and 2 per cent inflation. Our return home was made even longer by the detour we took when oil prices collapsed back in 2014. But, today, we find ourselves quite close to home, and getting closer, with the economy now running close to full output and inflation expected to be around 2 per cent later in 2018.

That is all good. But as an economist, and as a central banker, I find myself preoccupied with a number of slower-moving, nagging issues that I expect will be with us for a long time. They keep me awake at night because I wonder if we have done all we can to address them. I have chosen three of these things to talk about today.

These personal preoccupations are a little different from the more pressing, immediate risks to the economy that economists usually think about. I can assure you that the Bank is fully engaged on a wide range of such issues, from the effects of technology on inflation to uncertainty over the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the response of housing demand to mortgage rule changes, to cite just a few.

I am not trying to spoil everyone’s holiday cheer with my topic today. Rather, I have found over the years that issues that appear daunting often become less so when we understand them better. What is more, a better understanding of the issues helps everyone—from the various government authorities to the public at large—determine what should be done to resolve them.

So, with that, let me share with you three things that are keeping me awake at night, and bring you up to date on developments surrounding them.

Cyber Threats

The first issue I want to touch on is the potential for a cyber attack that leads to a major disruption of our financial system.

People take for granted the efficiency and convenience of today’s financial system, as they should. It was not all that long ago that your choices for making a retail purchase were a personal cheque, a credit card or cash—and cash was an option only if you remembered to get to your bank branch before it closed. Today, e-commerce is pervasive. People can have electronic access to their accounts instantly, almost anywhere. The infrastructure that underpins our financial system is a public good, every bit as important to the health of Canada’s economy as our roads, bridges and airports.

I am not exaggerating. Every day, Canada’s major payments systems process millions of transactions, large and small, and billions of dollars change hands. These transactions happen so routinely and with such accuracy that it is easy to overlook how critical these systems are. The process looks completely risk-free, but it is not. And to be without these systems for any length of time could have a significant impact on the economy.

Our financial system is as good as it is today because of major advances in communications and financial technology, and a high degree of connectivity between institutions. However, this connectivity also creates a vulnerability. It means that a problem in one institution may spread to others and be amplified. As such, a successful cyber attack on one institution can become a successful attack on many. These attacks can be launched from anywhere and spread across global networks.

The good news is that all the major participants in the financial system are taking this threat very seriously. They are collaborating with each other by sharing information and best practices. As for the key payments systems that connect everyone together, the Bank of Canada has the legislative authority to oversee them and to ensure that they follow strong risk-management practices, including those aimed at preventing cyber attacks. We are also collaborating with partners in the federal government who are working to ensure that Canada is resilient to cyber threats.

However, we cannot assume that our financial system is immune, despite best-in-class cyber defences. We need to be prepared to recover our systems should a cyber attack succeed. The Bank is working closely with our financial institutions and payments systems to ensure that we have robust joint recovery plans in place. Further, the Bank is making significant investments in its own operational redundancies, increasing the resilience of our systems and our people. It is vital that we be able to “fail over” quickly so our key functions will be maintained in the event of a major disruption, be it a cyber attack, natural disaster or some other crisis. This is a matter not just of operational continuity, but of maintaining confidence in our financial system in stressed situations.

The bottom line is that I am confident that we are doing everything we can on this issue. Still, the system may be only as robust as its weakest link, and that keeps me thinking.

High House Prices and Household Debt

My second preoccupation is the state of Canada’s housing markets and the associated level of household debt. The Bank said in last month’s Financial System Review that these vulnerabilities are showing early signs of prospective easing, which is good. However, these vulnerabilities are elevated, and are likely to remain so for a long time. Remember, it took years for these vulnerabilities to build up in the first place.

It is not just the amount of debt; it is also its composition and distribution. More than 80 per cent of household debt is composed of mortgages and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs). Increasingly, mortgages are being combined with HELOCs, to the point where about 40 per cent of all housing-backed loans are blended with a HELOC component.

HELOCs have been a very convenient tool for many households. They give borrowers flexibility to finance renovation projects or handle emergencies—such as when your furnace dies on a cold February night. Their popularity shows how useful these lending arrangements are. However, there are some potential risks that borrowers need to manage.

HELOCs usually allow the borrower to pay only the interest on the loan each month, leaving the principal amount unchanged. Indeed, about 40 per cent of HELOC borrowers are not regularly paying down their principal, which means that debt loads may persist longer than in the past. Furthermore, some may be using their HELOC to speculate—for example, to fund a down payment on a second house with the intention of flipping it. Given the potential for volatility in house prices and for higher interest rates, such activity may be adding to the overall vulnerability of the system.

We have seen several rounds of macroprudential measures to tighten mortgage finance rules. These include measures last year that were aimed at high-ratio mortgages—those where the down payment is less than 20 per cent of the value of the home. Since then, there has been a sharp drop in the number of highly indebted Canadians obtaining these mortgages—and by highly-indebted we have in mind people with a ratio of debt to income that is more than 450 per cent. But we have also seen an increase in low-ratio mortgages with risky characteristics, such as extended amortization periods. New lending guidelines for low-ratio mortgages, which will come into effect next year, should work to limit the number of low-ratio mortgages going to highly indebted households.

These mortgage rule changes will help build up the resilience of the financial system over time, as each new mortgage will be stress-tested to ensure that the borrower can manage a higher interest rate at renewal time. It is important to remember that the purpose of these rule changes is not to control house prices. Ultimately, the laws of supply and demand will determine the direction of house prices.

At the same time, there is little doubt that these rule changes will mean less growth in our housing sector. In the wake of the global financial crisis, ultra-low interest rates have helped our economies weather the storm, but an important by-product has been exceptional growth in housing. For some time now we have been expecting a rotation away from housing and toward other engines of growth, such as exports and investment. We are seeing signs of that fundamental rotation now.

A key issue for the Bank, then, is understanding how people will react when they are told that, under the new rules, they do not qualify for the mortgage they would like. Staff examined data from new mortgages issued last year by federally regulated lenders. They found that about 10 per cent of low-ratio mortgages—around 36,000 loans, representing about $15 billion worth of borrowing—would not have qualified last year under the new stress test.

Of course, there is more than one way for people to respond. The most likely response is for people to look for a less-expensive house with a smaller mortgage so they qualify under the new rules. Others might try to boost their down payment, or delay the purchase until they can do so.

But people might also look for a lender that is not bound by these new mortgage rules so they can avoid facing the stress test. No doubt, certain non-federally regulated lenders will step up to compete for that business, although other regulators may choose to impose the same guidelines. In any event, to those people who hope to avoid the rules, I offer this advice: testing yourself to make sure you could handle your mortgage payments if interest rates were higher at renewal is a very good idea, whether it is a rule or not.

One final issue related to indebtedness—we expect that high levels of debt will make the economy as a whole more sensitive to higher interest rates today than in the past. This issue has obvious implications for monetary policy, so we have done a lot of work this year to enhance our models to capture it. As we said in our October Monetary Policy Report and in our interest rate announcement last week, this is one of the key issues we will be monitoring in real time as we consider the appropriate path for interest rates.

The Tough Job Market for Young People

My third long-term preoccupation is the state of our labour market; specifically, how hard it has been for so many young people to find work. I mentioned earlier that more than 350,000 full-time jobs had been created this year. However, only about 50,000 of those have gone to young workers.

A decade ago, the proportion of people aged 15 to 24 participating in the workforce peaked at almost 68 per cent. That figure hit a trough earlier this year at nearly five percentage points lower—the lowest in almost 20 years. If we could return the youth participation rate to its level before the global financial crisis, more than 100,000 additional young Canadians would have jobs.

Of course, this is not only a problem for youth. We know of people in all age groups who are working part-time when they would prefer a full-time job. We also know people who cannot find jobs that match their skill set and are underemployed. And we know there are people who have lost the job they held for years when their factory closed, and have faced extreme difficulty in finding new work in a similar field. These are all serious concerns. But I want to concentrate on young people, for whom a long period of unemployment can leave a scar that could last a lifetime.

I know there are legitimate explanations for why more young Canadians are staying out of the labour force. Enrolment in post-secondary schooling has increased in recent years, and we expect some of this rise will be permanent. Some of these youth are looking to gain the skills that will match what employers are demanding. There are more than 250,000 job vacancies in the economy today, the highest on record. Canadian business leaders say that most of these vacancies are unfilled because they cannot find workers with the right skills.

Let me suggest that responsibility for addressing this skill mismatch rests with all of us, not just the students and the education system. There surely is room for more ambitious on-the-job training programs in this picture.

This issue is taking on greater urgency because the economy is reaching the stage where more-efficient job matching and increased workforce engagement will be our main means of building economic capacity. With more economic capacity comes the opportunity for more non-inflationary growth and a permanently higher level of Canadian GDP, and more income for everyone. Clearly, that is something worth having.

Let me elaborate. Right now, we are at a point in the economic cycle that I think of as the “sweet spot.” We know that a majority of Canadian companies are running flat out. They may have been hesitating to invest in new capacity until now, perhaps because of lingering economic uncertainty, or concerns over the future of NAFTA, for example. But, despite these uncertainties, companies are moving to expand their capacity now, which augurs well for the future.

Most expansions of capacity have two elements—more capital equipment, and more people. Attracting the right people to new jobs may require higher wages, and this in turn can cause people to re-enter the workforce. We may be seeing early signs of this happening. I mentioned earlier that measures of wages have turned higher over the past couple of months and, in November, the participation rate for young people jumped back to more than 64 per cent. These are encouraging signs, but it will take awhile before they become trends.

The Bank is watching these indicators very carefully at the moment, for they will help us manage the risks that monetary policy faces at this point in the business cycle. Our current policy setting clearly remains quite stimulative. With the economy operating near potential, a mechanical approach to policy would suggest that monetary policy should already be less stimulative. However, as we said in last week’s interest rate announcement, we still see signs of ongoing, albeit diminishing, slack in the labour market.

Fundamentally, this is an exercise in risk management. The facts that the economy is operating near its capacity, and that growth is forecast to continue to run above potential, together pose an upside risk to our inflation forecast. At the same time, our belief that there remains some slack in the labour market poses a downside risk to our inflation forecast. Given the unusual factors at play, the Bank is monitoring these risks in real time—the term we use for this is “data dependent”—rather than taking a mechanical approach to policy setting.

And One More Thing…

So there we have it, three preoccupations that are keeping me awake at night. I could give you even more, but these are my top three, and you do not have all afternoon.

Actually, there is one more thing keeping me awake at night, which perhaps I should mention, and that is all the noise I keep hearing about cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin. There is a lot of hype around Bitcoin, and markets are evolving quickly to allow wider access, including to retail investors. So perhaps you will allow me to make a couple of points.

To begin with basics, the term “cryptocurrency” is a misnomer—“crypto,” yes, but “currency,” no. For something to be considered a currency, it must act as a reliable store of value, and you should be able to spend it easily. These instruments possess neither of these characteristics, so they do not constitute “money.”

So, what are cryptocurrencies, exactly? Characteristics vary widely but, generally speaking, they can be thought of as securities. The Canada Revenue Agency agrees. That means, if you buy and sell them at a profit, you have income that needs to be reported for tax purposes. What their true value is may be anyone’s guess—perhaps the most one can say is that buying these things means buying risk, which makes it closer to gambling than investing.

To be absolutely clear, I am not giving investment advice. I never do. All I will say to people intending to buy a so-called cryptocurrency is that you should read the fine print and make sure you know what you are getting into. The Bank of Canada does not regulate these instruments and their markets, just as we do not regulate traditional securities and their markets.

But one question that does preoccupy me is, what does the arrival of cryptocurrencies mean for the cash in your pocket? Supplying the Canadian dollars you need to carry out your business is one of the Bank’s most important mandates.

It is often forgotten that the cash provided by a central bank is the only truly risk-free means of payment. With cash, buyers and sellers can be certain that payment is final. This is an absolutely vital public good, which has always been provided by the central bank. All other payment types, from debit cards to credit cards to cheques, work through intermediaries in the financial system. Yes, of course, they are safe. But, fundamentally, they can never be quite as risk-free as cash. Just ask yourself—if you were concerned that an imminent cyber attack was about to hit the financial system, would you not want to carry some extra cash until everything was back to normal?

Nonetheless, it is natural that transactions using electronic payments, such as debit and credit cards, continue to grow in volume and value relative to cash. It is certainly possible that the demand for digital cash could grow over time. If so, there could be very strong arguments for the central bank to provide it, given its obligation to fulfill the public good function. Bank staff are exploring the circumstances under which it might be appropriate for the central bank to issue its own digital currency for retail transactions. All central banks are researching this. We will have more to say about the subject in the months ahead.

Conclusion

Now I am ready to conclude. Cyber threats, elevated household debt, youth underemployment—these are all long-term issues that will continue to be major preoccupations for myself personally, and for the Bank of Canada.

I hope I have not spoiled your festive, pre-holiday mood by talking about my preoccupations. In case I have, let me repeat that the economy has made tremendous progress over the past year, and it is close to reaching its full potential. We are very encouraged by this, and we are growing increasingly confident that the economy will need less monetary stimulus over time.

Nevertheless, a number of uncertainties remain around our outlook, many of which I have touched on today. As Senior Deputy Governor Carolyn Wilkins said in an important speech last month, it is critical that we take these uncertainties on board in our policy-making. So, allow me to repeat what we said in our interest rate announcement last week: We will continue to be cautious in our upcoming policy decisions, guided by incoming data in assessing the economy’s sensitivity to interest rates, the evolution of economic capacity, and the dynamics of both wage growth and inflation.

By sharing my preoccupations with you today, I hope that I have also raised your understanding of them, so that they appear somewhat less daunting. The Bank will continue to work on these issues while doing our part to help bring about a strong and stable economy. This has been the Bank of Canada’s role since our beginning. And it will remain our role for years to come.

Let me wish you all the best for the holidays, and for a prosperous 2018.

Termination of the First National Mortgage Investment Fund

Stone Asset Management Limited (the “Manager”), the manager of First National Mortgage Investment Fund (the “Fund”) (TSX: FNM.UN), in consultation with the Fund’s promoter and mortgage advisor, First National Financial LP, has determined, in accordance with the terms of the Fund’s declaration of trust, to terminate the Fund on or about December 19, 2017. Unitholders are not required to take any action.

The Fund was initially created to provide unitholders with exposure to an actively managed, diversified portfolio (the “Portfolio”) of mortgages. The Fund obtains exposure to the Portfolio through the use of a forward purchase and sale agreement (the “Forward Agreement”) which is to expire pursuant to its terms on December 19, 2017 (the “Forward Termination Date”).

Under the transitional provisions of tax rules enacted by the Canadian federal government in December 2013, the favourable tax treatment for the Forward Agreement will expire no later than the Forward Termination Date. Following the Forward Termination Date, it will no longer be possible for the Fund to provide its unitholders with exposure to the Portfolio on the originally intended tax-advantaged basis. The Forward Agreement is integral to the structure of the Fund and its investment objectives.

As a result of the upcoming Forward Termination Date, loss of the intended favourable tax treatment and reduction in the size of the Fund’s assets as a result of redemptions over the past number of years, the Manager has determined to terminate the Fund on or about the Forward Termination Date. Pursuant to the terms of the Fund’s declaration of trust, the Manager, as trustee of the Fund, has the right to terminate the Fund without unitholder approval in circumstances in which continued operation is no longer economically practical.

As part of the termination, First National Financial LP has agreed in principle to purchase the portfolio of mortgages held by FN Mortgage Investment Trust (the “Trust”) prior to the Forward Termination Date at fair market value, allowing the Trust to liquidate the Portfolio and to allow the Fund to distribute cash to the unitholders of the Fund on its termination. The Fund`s independent review committee assessed the transactions and provided a recommendation that, in the committee’s opinion after reasonable inquiry, the proposed transactions achieve a fair and reasonable result for the Trust , the Fund and its unitholders.

Unitholder Distributions

Prior to the termination of the Fund, the Fund will pay to its unitholders a special distribution in an amount necessary to eliminate the Fund’s liability for non-refundable income tax under Part I of the Income Tax Act (Canada), if any. The distribution will be paid in units which will be automatically consolidated immediately after the distribution. Thereafter, after paying, or providing for, all liabilities and obligations of the Fund, all Fund property, being cash, will be distributed to the unitholders of the Fund on a pro rata basis. Following such distribution, the Fund will terminate.

The Fund intends to distribute one final monthly cash distribution in the amount of $.05 per unit on or about December 15 to unitholders of record November 30, 2017 for the period from November 1 to November 30.

The Manager will apply to delist the units of the Fund from the Toronto Stock Exchange. It is expected that the units will be delisted at the close of trading on or about December 15, 2017.

Following the settlement of the Forward Agreement, the Manager will also terminate FN Mortgage Investment Trust.

About First National Mortgage Investment Fund
The Fund was designed to provide unitholders with tax-advantaged monthly distributions by investing in Canadian mortgage loans originated by First National Financial LP. For more information, visit the Fund’s website at: www.firstnational.ca/investor-relations/first-national-mortgage-investment-fund.

About First National Financial Corporation
First National Financial Corporation (TSX: FN, TSX: FN.PR.A, TSX: FN.PR.B) is the parent company of First National Financial LP, a Canadian-based originator, underwriter and servicer of predominantly prime residential (single-family and multi-unit) and commercial mortgages. With more than $100 billion in mortgages under administration, First National is Canada’s largest non-bank originator and underwriter of mortgages and is among the top three in market share in the mortgage broker distribution channel.  For more information, please visit www.firstnational.ca.

About Stone Asset Management Limited
Stone Asset Management Limited (“SAM”) manages the Fund.  Established in 1999, SAM is an independent, Canadian-owned asset management company that specializes in structuring and managing high quality investment products. Its professionals are well regarded in the Canadian investment community for their disciplined investment process. The Fund’s daily unit price can be found at: www.stoneco.com/allproducts/first-national-mortgage-investment-fund/.

Unitholder Information
For further information, unitholders may contact their Financial Advisors or Stone Client Services at 1 800 795 1142 or clientservices@stoneco.com. As noted, unitholders are not required to take any action.

SOURCE First National Mortgage Investment Fund

Aging Boomers Breaking the Bank – Later Retirement Part of Solution

Canada’s greying workforce will spell big fiscal trouble for future taxpayers, according to a new C.D. Howe Institute report. In “The Fiscal Implications of Canadians’ Working Longer,” authors William RobsonColin Busby, and Aaron Jacobs find that demographic change is squeezing the budgets of Canadian governments—increasing the costs of public programs and eroding the tax base as the growth in traditional working-age people flatlines.

“In the next few decades, Canadian governments will face a fiscal squeeze: rising demand for public services on one side and slower growth of government revenues on the other—and the provinces get squeezed hardest,” says Robson.

Demographics are an important driver. Age-sensitive programs, primarily publicly funded healthcare for an aging population, are pushing up spending while the working-age population is declining and shrinking the tax base.

In the report, the authors estimate the future costs of demographically sensitive programs — including healthcare, seniors benefits, education, and child benefits — as well as the future growth of the tax base. With slow workforce growth holding the economy back, the total tab for these programs will rise from 15.5 percent of GDP today to 24.2 percent by 2066. In dollar terms, the present value of the unfunded liability for age-related social spending—amounts to $4.5 trillion.

If Canadians stayed in the workforce longer – and improvements in health and longevity suggest many will be willing and able to do so – their contributions to output and taxes would mitigate the fiscal squeeze, say the authors. How might policy changes encourage longer working life?

  • First, the federal government should restore the previously scheduled increase in the normal age of OAS eligibility to age 67 – as advised by the government’s own Advisory Council on Economic Growth. Earlier receipt of a reduced amount should be an option, as with the Canada Pension Plan.
  • Second, actuarial adjustments to benefits payable under OAS and the Canada Pension Plan need to stay up to date, to ensure that people are appropriately rewarded for continuing to work after the age when they could first commence receipt.
  • Third, and more generally, other age-related rules also need updating. For example, restrictions on retirement saving after a given age and requirements to start drawing retirement income can affect decisions about when to retire. A key example is the requirement for RRSP savers to start drawing down their savings, now taxable at 71. Failing that, the trigger age should rise immediately and continue to rise with longevity.

The effect of longer work-life on the tax base will not eliminate the fiscal pressures demographic change will create for Canadian governments, note the authors. But those pressures are so large that policymakers should pursue a variety of avenues to mitigate them. “Policy changes to enable later retirement would reduce the unfunded liabilities future finance ministers will otherwise need to confront, and brighten the fiscal futures of Canadians,” says Busby.

Click here for full report: https://www.cdhowe.org/public-policy-research/fiscal-implications-canadians%E2%80%99-working-longer

The C.D. Howe Institute is an independent not-for-profit research institute whose mission is to raise living standards by fostering economically sound public policies. Widely considered to be Canada’s most influential think tank, the Institute is a trusted source of essential policy intelligence, distinguished by research that is nonpartisan, evidence-based and subject to definitive expert review.

SOURCE C.D. Howe Institute

Canada’s Real Estate Sector Remains Resilient

The Canadian real estate industry is still performing well, according to the 2018 Emerging Trends in Real Estate report published today by PwC Canada and the Urban Land Institute (ULI). Despite the industry’s steady performance, interviewees shared a concern of potential headwinds resulting in some real estate investors rebalancing their portfolios, and others taking a more defensive posture. Affordability concerns remain a dominant theme for residential real estate in Toronto and Vancouverand the report discusses rapid development outside urban centres across the country. The report also finds that investors, developers and occupiers  are rethinking how they approach their real estate investments, from ambitious intensification plans, to building communities, to investments outside major urban centres due to increased focus on new transit-centric hubs.

Commercial Real Estate
According to the report, major pension funds, large institutional investors (including REITs), which already own the majority of Class A properties, given current pricing, are continuing to focus on developing new Class A properties. These new properties could fuse commercial, retail and service properties alongside residential developments building new urban communities.

E-commerce is forecast to grow to 8% in 2018 from 4.5% in 2013.  This growth in e-commerce is having a profound effect on the retail sector and many interviewees believe retail investors need to rethink their overall retail strategy, through enhanced technology application and data analytics, as well as reinventing the retail experience. The growing penetration of e-commerce continues to push fulfillment and warehouses to the top of the list of investment and development prospects in 2018.

“Our national and local economies are greatly impacted by the real estate sector and therefore a healthy industry is good for Canada. Affordability concerns continue to be the major theme we are hearing in the residential markets in cities like Vancouver and the GTA, but there are no really good answers to this issue on the horizon” says Frank Magliocco, National Real Estate Leader, PwC Canada. “Rebalancing, rethinking, and reinventing real estate in an increasingly challenging environment is critical to be successful today, and those that are able to move quickly and leverage strategic partners will be the real winners.”

“Those who can find solutions where others see obstacles are redefining development and creating some new, yet authentically local spaces,” says Richard Joy, Executive Director, ULI Toronto.

Affordability
Housing affordability continues to be an issue and concern for some parts of the country. Higher prices (rental and ownership) are driving people to smaller cities in search of less costly housing options. These new communities are developing as governments are increasing their investments in transit hubs connecting smaller cities and suburbs to urban centres. Some of the major Canadian transit investments currently underway include: the Eglinton Crosstown (Toronto), the Valley Line LRT (Edmonton) and the REM in Montreal.

The report also finds that more than one in three young adult Canadians, aged between 20–34, are living with at least one parent. Higher prices are spurring growth in multigenerational households in markets like Toronto and Vancouver. As a result, developers are now focusing on building larger condos, and adapting homes that can accommodate the various needs of this type of consumer.

The introduction of a foreign buyers’ tax to curtail foreign investment in British Columbia (August 2016) has had little impact on the market, as prices have rebounded to pre-tax levels. Respondents to the survey feel the same about Ontario’s strategy. In addition, there continues to be significant concern about the impact of expanded rent control legislation to the supply of rental apartments in Ontario.

Data Analytics and Technology
Data and technology are significantly impacting the real estate industry for all stakeholders – consumers, investors and developers. According to the report, more than US$2.9B is projected to be invested in real estate technology globally. Some notable advances include consumers viewing properties using 3-D virtual tours, investors using data analytics to find better deals, and developers conceiving entire communities and parks based on new digital design technology.

“With such rapid advancements in new technologies and a competitive landscape, real estate industry players need to have a forward-thinking and comprehensive strategy for assessing and analyzing new solutions, as well as implementing changes – to help drive innovation in this sector. Those who don’t will be left behind,” adds Miriam Gurza, Managing Director, National Real Estate Consulting Leader.

Top Five Canadian Markets to Watch in 2018
VancouverThis market has the highest investor demand and redevelopment opportunities in Canada. However, regional developers and investors anticipate those opportunities will be more conservative in 2018 due to the impact of policy changes and interest rate hikes.

Toronto: Demand will remain high for the best assets, as institutional capital and other investors continue to seek stable long-term opportunities. But these same investors will be careful about their decisions as they seek yield either in development or elsewhere in the world.

MontrealMany institutional players have begun divesting older stock properties to focus on new developments aimed at attracting millennial and seniors’ markets. This is placing some pressure on owners of older buildings to compete and contributing to a growing divergence between new and old.

OttawaThe relative affordability of this market is luring people to the city from other geographic areas, particularly high-priced Toronto, as millennials and young families search for a better, less expensive lifestyle. Technology companies are expanding or moving into this market as well, eager to capitalize on the influx of talent—and doing their best to attract more talent to the city.

WinnipegThough there’s still weakness in the residential sector, it’s offset by an abundance of non-residential activity. The $467-million Southwest Transitway, which will link the University of Manitoba to the downtown, as well as the $400-million True North Square, a four-tower mixed-use project in the downtown core, are just some of the real estate activities pushing Winnipeg into the top five.

Additional quotes from ULI:

“From coast to coast we are seeing continued robust demand to invest in prime real estate in our cities, whether office buildings, industrial facilities, rental apartments and even retail,” says Wendy Waters of ULI British Columbia.

“Even in Alberta where there have been economic struggles, there has been continued investor interest in retail and multi-residential properties,” says Amy Vandervelde, Chair of ULI ALberta

To access the full report, please click here.

About PwC Canada
At PwC, our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. More than 6,700 partners and staff in offices across the country are committed to delivering quality in assurance, tax, consulting and deals services. PwC Canada is a member of the PwC network of firms, which comprises more than 236,235 people in 158 countries. Find out more by visiting us at www.pwc.com/ca.

© 2017 PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, an Ontario limited liability partnership. All rights reserved.

PwC refers to the Canadian member firm, and may sometimes refer to the PwC network. Each member firm is a separate legal entity. Please see http://www.pwc.com/structure for further details.

About the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and ULI Toronto
The Urban Land Institute (www.uli.org) is a non-profit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in sustaining and creating thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has more than 40,000 members representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines. The Urban Land Institute is an active and growing organization in Canada. With over 2000 members across the country, Canada’s first ULI District Council ULI Toronto (toronto.uli.org) was established in 2005, with a second District Council in British Columbia and another one being created in Calgary. ULI Toronto has over 1500 members.

SOURCE PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers)

 

Canada’s housing market remains at a high degree of vulnerability and housing starts set to level off

Canada’s housing markets remain highly vulnerable with evidence of moderate overvaluation and price acceleration, according to  Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). After a boost in residential construction in 2017, housing starts are projected to decline by 2019, but to remain close to the average level from the last 5 years.

This analysis is from two key CMHC reports released today: the Housing Market Assessment (HMA) and Housing Market Outlook (HMO).

CMHC’s HMA continues to find housing markets in Toronto, Hamilton, Vancouver, Victoria and Saskatoon highly vulnerable. There is low evidence of overbuilding overall at the national level but there are growing concerns surrounding overbuilding in Calgary, Edmonton and St. John’s. In these markets, the supply of new and unsold homes outweighs the demand for housing.

Housing Market Assessment (HMA) highlights

  • Despite the recent easing in Toronto’s resale market, we continued to detect moderate evidence of price acceleration with strong growth in home prices among all housing types. High house prices could not be explained by fundamental economic drivers such as income and population growth.
  • Hamilton’s housing market remained highly vulnerable for the fifth consecutive quarter. House prices continued to grow more quickly than levels supported by economic and demographic fundamentals.
  • Vancouver’s housing market remained highly vulnerable, with evidence of moderate overheating and price acceleration, and strong overvaluation. Imbalances remained between demand and supply in the resale home market, especially for multi-family units.
  • Victoria’s overheating persisted due to continued elevated sales for apartments and townhomes in the resale market, but very low inventories in the new home market of unsold homes to support the strong demand.
  • The Quebec CMA market is now reported to have low levels of vulnerability. However, overbuilding remains an area of concern as we continue to see vacancy rates increasing for conventional rental housing.

CMHC’s HMO provides a forward-looking analysis anticipating emerging trends in Canada’s new home, resale and rental housing markets. Variables covered include housing starts, MLS® sales, and vacancy rates. Other economic factors considered in our analysis include economic and employment growth, migration, population and mortgage rates.

After the expected boost in residential construction for 2017, housing starts are projected to decline by 2019. Sales in the existing-homes market are expected to decline relative to the record level of more than 535,000 MLS® sales registered in 2016.

The average MLS® price should increase over the forecast horizon, but at a slower rate than in the past four years. The average should lie between $493,900 and $511,300 in 2017 and between $499,400 and $524, 500 by 2019.

Housing Market Outlook (HMO) regional highlights

British Columbia

Housing starts and MLS® sales in B.C. are expected to decrease in 2018 and 2019, but will remain above historical levels, while MLS® prices will continue to grow at a slower pace as the housing market moves towards more balanced conditions. Rental demand will continue to be strong through the forecast period, with vacancy rates remaining tight and average rents rising.

Prairies

Alberta and Saskatchewan’s gradual recovery from the oil-price shock that started in 2014 will likely contribute to positive net interprovincial migration flows, supporting housing markets. Housing market conditions are expected to continue to slowly transition from a buyer’s market to a more balanced one in 2018 and 2019. However, the overbuilding in many CMAs is expected to put downward pressure on new housing construction. Manitoba has a more diversified economy compared to the other two provinces, which has allowed it to mitigate the risk of large economic swings that the oil-producing provinces experience when oil prices move significantly.

Ontario

Ontario MLS® sales and starts will trend lower over the forecast horizon, with modest growth in home prices expected relative to the recent past. Rising mortgage carrying costs will exert downward pressure on housing demand and shift demand to multi-unit homes which includes condominium and rental units. Housing demand will hold up better in eastern and southwestern Ontario centres given higher affordability levels, fewer market imbalances and generally better economic conditions.

Québec

Stronger employment growth will stimulate housing demand in 2018 and 2019. As a result, the province’s resale markets will continue to tighten and prices are projected to rise. Meanwhile, population aging will continue to provide support to residential construction in the apartment segment.

Atlantic Canada

Housing starts, MLS® sales and prices are expected to rise gradually over the forecast period, but continued economic growth will rely heavily on boosting exports.

As Canada’s authority on housing, CMHC contributes to the stability of the housing market and financial system, provides support for Canadians in housing need, and offers objective housing research and information to Canadian governments, consumers and the housing industry.

“We continue to see a high degree of vulnerability in Canada’s housing market, fuelled by moderate overvaluation and price acceleration. House price growth continues to outpace economic fundamentals like household income and population growth. In 2018 and into 2019, housing starts are projected to decline while house prices should increase over the forecast horizon, but at a slower rate than in the past four years.”

Bob Dugan, Chief Economist, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Source CMHC

 

 

Residential Mortgage Underwriting Practices and Procedures – effective January 1, 2018 B-20

I. Purpose and Scope of the Guideline

This Guideline sets out OSFI’s expectations for prudent residential mortgage underwriting, and is applicable to all federally-regulated financial institutionsFootnote1 (FRFIs) that are engaged in residential mortgage underwriting and/or the acquisition of residential mortgage loan assets in Canada.  It complements relevant provisions of the Bank ActTrust and Loan Companies Act, the Insurance Companies Act and the Cooperative Credit Associations Act, as well as the Government of Canada’s mortgage insurance guarantee framework, which establishes the rules for government-backed insured mortgages.Footnote2

For the purpose of this Guideline, a “residential mortgage” includes any loan to an individualFootnote3 that is secured by residential property (i.e., one to four unit dwellings).  Home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), equity loans and other such products that use residential property as security are also covered by this Guideline.

This Guideline articulates five fundamental principles for sound residential mortgage underwriting.  The first principle relates to FRFI governance and the development of overarching business objectives, strategy and oversight mechanisms in respect of residential mortgage underwriting and/or the acquisition of residential mortgage loan assets.

The next three principles focus on the residential mortgage credit decision and the underwriting process, specifically the assessment of:

  • The borrower’s identity, background and demonstrated willingness to service their debt obligations on a timely basis (Principle 2);
  • The borrower’s capacity to service their debt obligations on a timely basis (Principle 3); and,
  • The underlying property value/collateral and management process (Principle 4).

These three principles should be evaluated by lenders using a holistic, risk-based approach – unless otherwise specified in this guidance.  The borrower’s demonstrated willingness and capacity to service their debt obligations on a timely basis should be the primary basis of a lender’s credit decision.  Undue reliance on collateral can pose challenges, as the process to obtain title to the underlying property security can be difficult for the borrower and costly to the lender.

The fifth principle addresses the need for mortgage underwriting and purchasing to be supported by effective credit and counterparty risk management, including, where appropriate, mortgage insurance.  The final section of the Guideline summarizes disclosure and supervisory requirements.

OSFI expects FRFIs to verify that their residential mortgage operations are well supported by prudent underwriting practices, and have sound risk management and internal controls that are commensurate with these operations.

II. Principles

 

Principle 1: FRFIs that are engaged in residential mortgage underwriting and/or the acquisition of residential mortgage loan assets should have a comprehensive Residential Mortgage Underwriting Policy (RMUP). Footnote4  Residential mortgage practices and procedures of FRFIs should comply with their established RMUP.

Residential Mortgage Underwriting Policy (RMUP)

The Board-approved Risk Appetite FrameworkFootnote5 should establish limits regarding the level of risk that the FRFI is willing to accept with respect to residential mortgages, and this should form the basis for the RMUP.  The RMUP should further align with the FRFI’s enterprise-wide strategy and, in turn, be linked to the enterprise risk management framework.

The RMUP should reflect the size, nature and complexity of a FRFI’s residential mortgage business and should give consideration to factors and metrics such as:

  • Significant elements of the FRFI’s business strategy and approach to residential mortgage underwriting and the acquisition of residential mortgage loan assets (e.g., products, markets) – in Canada and internationally;
  • At the portfolio level, risk management practices and processes with respect to residential mortgage loans and loan assets, including limits on relevant segments or parameters (e.g., lending, acquisition, product, borrower/property characteristics, and geographic concentration);
  • At the individual residential mortgage loan level, acceptable underwriting and acquisition standards, criteria and limits (e.g., credit scores, loan-to-value ratios, debt service coverage, amortization periods) for all residential mortgage products and loan types (e.g., conforming and non-conforming);
  • Identification and escalation processes for residential mortgage underwriting and/or acquisition exceptions, if any, including a process for approval and exception reporting;
  • Limits on any exceptions to residential mortgages underwritten and/or acquired; and
  • The roles and responsibilities for those positions charged with overseeing and implementing the RMUP.

FRFIs should revisit their RMUP on a regular basis to ensure that there is strong alignment between their risk appetite statement and their actual mortgage underwriting, acquisition, and risk management policies and practices.

Board and Senior Management Roles

Senior Management is responsible for the development and implementation of the RMUP and related controls. However, the Board of Directors (Board) of the FRFI has a critical role in providing high-level guidance to, and oversight of, Senior Management with respect to matters relating to mortgage underwriting and portfolio management.

The Board of the FRFI should review and discuss the RMUP or any changes to the RMUP.  The Board should understand the decisions, plans and policies being undertaken by Senior Management with respect to residential mortgage underwriting and/or the acquisition of residential mortgage loan assets, and their potential impact on the FRFI.  It should probe, question and seek assurances from Senior Management that these are consistent with the Board’s own decisions and Board-approved business and risk strategy for the FRFI, and that the corresponding internal controls are sound and being implemented in an effective manner.

The Board should receive timely, accurate, independent and objective reporting on the related risks of the residential mortgage business, including the procedures and controls in place to manage the risks, and the overall effectiveness of risk management processes.

The Board should be aware of, and be satisfied with, the manner in which material exceptions to policies and controls related to residential mortgages are identified, approved and monitored.

Internal Controls, Monitoring and Reporting

Effective control, monitoring and reporting systems and procedures should be developed and maintained by FRFIs to ensure on-going operational compliance with the RMUP.  FRFIs should identify, measure, monitor and report the risks in all residential mortgage lending and acquisition operations on an on-going basis, and across all jurisdictions.  The FRFI’s residential mortgage risk appetite should be understood at all relevant levels of the organization.

FRFIs should have adequate processesFootnote6 in place with respect to residential mortgages to independently and objectively:

  • Identify, assess and analyze the key risks;
  • Monitor risk exposures against the Board-approved risk appetite of the FRFI;
  • Ensure that risks are appropriately controlled and mitigated;
  • Ensure that risk management policies, processes and limits are being adhered to;
  • Provide exception reporting, including the identification of patterns, trends or systemic issues within the residential mortgage portfolio that may impair loan quality or risk mitigation factors; and
  • Report on the effectiveness of models.

Mortgage Underwriting Declaration

A senior officer of a FRFI should make an annual declaration to the Board confirming that the FRFI’s residential mortgage underwriting and acquisition practices and associated risk management practices and procedures meet, except as otherwise disclosed in the declaration, the standards set out in this Guideline.

When a deviation from this Guideline has taken place, the nature and extent of the deviation, and the measures taken or proposed to correct (and mitigate the risk associated with) the deviation, should be documented and disclosed to the Board and to OSFI in full.

 

Principle 2: FRFIs should perform reasonable due diligence to record and assess the borrower’s identity, background and demonstrated willingness to service his/her debt obligations on a timely basis.

Background and Credit History of Borrower

FRFIs should ensure that they make a reasonable enquiry into the background, credit history, and borrowing behaviour of a prospective residential mortgage loan borrower as a means to establish an assessment of the borrower’s reliability to repay a mortgage loan.

For example, a credit bureau score, offered by the major credit bureaus, is an indicator often used to support credit granting. However, a credit score should not be solely relied upon to assess borrower qualification, as such an indicator measures past behaviour and does not immediately incorporate changes in a borrower’s financial condition or demonstrated willingness to service their debt obligations in a timely manner.

FRFIs should also ensure that they obtain appropriate borrower consent for this assessment and comply with relevant provincial and federal legislation governing the use and privacy of personal information (e.g., Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act).

Loan Documentation

Maintaining sound loan documentation is an important administrative function for lenders.  It provides a clear record of the factors behind the credit granting decision, supports lenders’ risk management functions, and permits independent audit/review by FRFIs and by OSFI.  As well, maintaining sound documentation is necessary for lenders to demonstrate compliance with mortgage insurance requirements and ensure insurance coverage remains intact.

Consequently, FRFIs should maintain complete documentation of the information that led to a mortgage approval.  This should generally include:

  • A description of the purpose of the loan;
  • Employment status and verification of income (see Principle 3);
  • Debt service ratio calculations, including verification documentation for key inputs (e.g., heating, taxes, and other debt obligations);
  • LTV ratio, property valuation and appraisal documentation (see Principle 4);
  • Credit bureau reports and any other credit enquiries;
  • Documentation verifying the source of the down payment;
  • Purchase and sale agreements and other collateral supporting documents;
  • An explanation of any mitigating criteria or other elements (e.g., “soft” information) for higher credit risk factors;
  • Property insurance agreementsFootnote7;
  • A clearly stated rationale for the decision (including exceptions); and
  • A record from the mortgage insurer validating commitment to insure the mortgage, where applicable.

The above documentation should be obtained at the origination of the mortgage and for any subsequent refinancing of the mortgage.  FRFIs should update the borrower and property analysis periodically (not necessarily at renewal) in order to effectively evaluate credit risk.  In particular, FRFIs should review some of the aforementioned factors if the borrower’s condition or property risk changes materially.

As a general principle, an independent third-party conducting a credit assessment of a FRFI’s mortgage loan should be in a position to replicate all aspects of the underwriting criteria, based on the FRFI’s sound documentation, to arrive at the derived credit decision.

Purpose of Mortgage Loan

FRFIs should ascertain and document the purpose of a prospective loan, as it is a key consideration in assessing credit risk.  This includes ascertaining the:

  • Intended use of the loan (e.g., purchase, refinancing), and
  • Type of purchase (e.g., owner-occupied primary residence, recreational or other secondary property, investment property, property that relies on rental income to service the loan); or
  • Type of refinancing (e.g., debt consolidation, changes to existing loan characteristics, access to home equity, renovation, etc.)

Anti-Money Laundering/Anti-Terrorist Financing

As part of a FRFI’s assessment of the borrower, if the FRFI is aware, or there are reasonable grounds to suspect, that the residential mortgage loan transaction is being used for illicit purposes, then the FRFI should decline to make the loan and consider filing a suspicious transaction report to the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) with respect to the attempted transaction.

FRFIs should ensure that residential mortgage loans are subject to the requirements of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA) and the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Regulations (PCMLTFR), as well as OSFI’s Guideline B-8 Deterring and Detecting Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing with respect to detecting and deterring the possible use of a property purchase or mortgage to launder the proceeds of crime or assist in terrorist financing.Footnote8

In particular, FRFIs should ensure that they comply with the customer identification and record keeping requirements of the PCMLTFR, and also ensure that they obtain sufficient information about the borrower to determine whether the customer is a higher risk customer, as defined under the PCMLTFA and PCMLTFR.

Misrepresentation

FRFIs should maintain adequate mechanisms for the detection, prevention and reporting of all forms of fraud or misrepresentation (e.g., falsified income documents) in the mortgage underwriting process.  For insured mortgage loan applications, FRFIs are expected to report suspected or confirmed fraud or misrepresentation to the relevant mortgage insurer.

 

Principle 3: FRFIs should adequately assess the borrower’s capacity to service his/her debt obligations on a timely basis. 

Income Verification

FRFIs should demonstrate rigour in the verification of a borrower’s income, as income is a key factor in the assessment of the capacity to repay a mortgage loan, and verification of income helps detect and deter fraud or misrepresentation.  This includes substantiation of a borrower’s:

  • Employment status; and
  • Income history.

In regard to loan documentation that supports income verification, FRFIs should undertake rigorous efforts to confirm that:

  • The income amount is verified by an independent source;
  • The verification source is difficult to falsify;
  • The verification source directly addresses the amount of the declared income; and
  • The income verification information/documentation does not contradict other information provided by the borrower in the underwriting process.

To the extent possible, income assessments should also reflect the stability of the borrower’s income, including possible negative outcomes (e.g., variability in the salary/wages of the borrower).  Conversely, temporarily high incomes (e.g., overtime wages, irregular commissions and bonuses) should be suitably normalized or discounted.

For borrowers who are self-employed, FRFIs should also be guided by the sound principles listed above.  In particular, FRFIs should obtain proof of income (e.g., Notice of Assessment and T1 General) and relevant business documentation.

Lenders should also exercise rigorous due diligence in underwriting loans that are materially dependent on income derived from the property to repay the loan (e.g., rental income derived from an investment property).

Borrowers relying on income from sources outside of Canada pose a particular challenge for income verification, and lenders should conduct thorough due diligence in this regard.  Income that cannot be verified by reliable, well-documented sources should be treated cautiously when assessing the ability of a borrower to service debt obligations.

Guarantors and Co-Signors of Mortgages

Where a FRFI obtains a guarantee or co-signor supporting the mortgage, it should also undertake a sufficiently rigorous credit assessment of the guarantor/co-signor.  This assessment should be commensurate with the degree to which the guarantor/co-signor’s support is relied upon.  The guarantor/co-signor should fully understand his/her legal obligations.

Debt Service Coverage

A fundamental component of prudent underwriting is an accurate assessment of the adequacy of a borrower’s income, taking into account the relevant mortgage payments and all debt commitments.  As part of this assessment, FRFIs should establish debt serviceability metrics (including the method to calculate these metrics), set prudent measures for debt serviceability (articulated in the RMUP) and calculate each borrower’s debt serviceability ratios for the purposes of assessing affordability.

Two ratios that are commonly used are the Gross Debt Service (GDS) ratio and the Total Debt Service (TDS) ratio.  For example, for insured mortgages, the Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC) defines GDS and TDS ratios and sets maximum GDS and TDS limits.  Private mortgage insurers also define similar debt serviceability metrics and limits for mortgage insurance products.  OSFI expects the average GDS and TDS scores for all mortgages underwritten and/or acquired to be less than the FRFI’s stated maximums, as articulated in its RMUP, and reflect a reasonable distribution across the portfolio.

FRFIs should have clear policies with respect to the contributing factors for the calculation of GDS and TDS ratios, including, but not limited to:

  • Principal and interest payments on the mortgage loan;
  • Primary and other sources of income;
  • Heating costs;
  • Property taxes;
  • Condominium or strata fees; and
  • Payments for all other credit facilities (e.g., unsecured personal loan, second mortgage loan, credit card).

GDS and TDS ratios should be calculated conservatively (i.e., appropriately stressed for varied financial and economic conditions and/or higher interest rates).

For insured residential mortgages, OSFI expects FRFIs to meet mortgage insurers’ requirements in regard to debt serviceability.  For uninsured residential mortgages, FRFIs should contemplate current and future conditions as they consider qualifying rates and make appropriate judgments.  At a minimum, the qualifying rate for all uninsured mortgages should be the greater of the contractual mortgage rate plus 2% or the five-year benchmark rate published by the Bank of Canada.Footnote9

Amortization

The mortgage amortization period for the loan is an important factor in the lending decision, as it affects the required debt service for the borrower and the growth of borrower equity in the underlying property.  FRFIs should have a stated maximum amortization period for all residential mortgages that are underwritten.  OSFI expects the average amortization period for mortgages underwritten to be less than the FRFI’s stated maximum, as articulated in its RMUP.

Additional Assessment Criteria

In addition to income and debt service coverage, FRFIs should take into consideration, as appropriate, other factors that are relevant for assessing credit risk, such as the borrower’s assetsFootnote10 and liabilities (net worth), other living expenses, recurring payment obligations, and alternate sources for loan repayment.

 

Principle 4: FRFIs should have sound collateral management and appraisal processes for the underlying mortgage properties.

General

Mortgage loans are granted primarily on the basis of the borrower’s demonstrated willingness and capacity to service his/her debt obligations.  However, to the extent that the lender would ever need to realize on the underlying property serving as security, it is important to have sound collateral practices and procedures.

Property Appraisals

A significant amount of leverage is often involved in residential mortgage lending and there is general reliance on collateral to provide adequate recourse for repayment of the debt if the borrower defaults.  As such, a proper and thorough assessment of the underlying property is essential to the residential mortgage business and key to adequately mitigating risks.  FRFIs should have clear and transparent valuation policies and procedures in this regard.

In assessing the value of a property, FRFIs should take a risk-based approach, and consider a combination of valuation tools and appraisal processes appropriate to the risk being undertaken.  The valuation process can include various methods such as on-site inspections, third-party appraisals and/or automated valuation tools.

On-site inspection
In general, FRFIs should conduct an on-site inspection on the underlying property, to be performed by either a qualified employee or an appraiser, depending on the nature of the property or transaction.  Beyond the valuation of the property, an on-site property inspection is beneficial in the process of validating the occupancy, condition and, ultimately, the existence of the property.
Third-party appraisal
FRFIs that use third-party appraisers should ensure that appraisals are prepared with the appropriate professional appraisal skill and diligence, and that appraisers are designated, licensed or certified, and meet qualification standards.  As well, these appraisers should be independent from the mortgage acquisition, loan processing and loan decision process.
Automated valuation tools
Where FRFIs use automated valuation tools, processes should be established to monitor their on-going effectiveness in representing the market value of the property.  Controls should also be in place to ensure that the tools are being used appropriately by lending officers.

In general, FRFIs should not rely on any single method for property valuation.  FRFIs should maintain and implement a framework for critically reviewing and, where appropriate, effectively challenging the assumptions and methodologies underlying valuations and property appraisals.  FRFIs should undertake a more comprehensive and prudent approach to collateral valuation for higher-risk transactions.  Such transactions include, for example, residential mortgage loans with a relatively high LTV ratio, loans for illiquid properties, and loans in markets that have experienced rapid property price increases, which generate more uncertainty about the accuracy and stability of property valuations.

Realistic, substantiated and supportable valuations should be conducted to reflect the current price level and the property’s function as collateral over the term of the mortgage.  Consistent with Principle 2 above, comprehensive documentation in this regard should be maintained.

FRFIs should ensure that the claim on collateral is legally enforceable and can be realized in a reasonable period of time or, absent that verification, ensure that title insurance from a third party is in place.

When extending loans to borrowers, FRFIs should impose contractual terms and conditions that secure their full protection under the laws applicable in the relevant jurisdiction, and seek to preserve an appropriate variety of recourses (including, where applicable, actions on personal covenant) should the borrower default.  In addition, FRFIs should have the necessary action plans in place to determine the best course of action upon borrower default.  Such action plans should cover:

  • The likely recourses/options available to the FRFI upon default in all relevant jurisdictions;
  • The identification of the parties against whom these recourses may be exercised; and
  • A strategy for exercising these options in a manner that is prudentially sound.

Loan-to-Value (LTV) Ratio

General

The commonly-used LTV ratio is an evaluation of the amount of collateral value that can be used to support the loan.  Past experience suggests it is highly correlated with credit risk.  Residential mortgage loans with higher LTV ratios generally perform worse than those with a lower LTV ratio (i.e., higher proportion of equity).

LTV Ratio Frameworks

Robust LTV ratio frameworks can serve to mitigate the risk of various mortgage loans (e.g. lower LTV ratio limits can help to mitigate risk by limiting loan exposure).  FRFIs should establish and adhere to appropriate maximum LTV ratio limits for various types of mortgage transactions (e.g., insured loans, conventional mortgage loans, non-conforming mortgage loans, and HELOCs).  The maximum LTV ratio limits may be determined by law or may be established by a FRFI based on risk and other considerations, including the current and expected market conditions, the type of loan, as well as other risk factors that may impact borrowers’ ability to service their debt and/or lenders’ ability and cost to realize on their security. OSFI expects FRFIs’ LTV ratio frameworks to be dynamic. To this end, FRFIs should have in place a robust process for regularly monitoring, reviewing and updating their LTV ratio frameworks.

The LTV ratio should be re-calculated upon any refinancing, and whenever deemed prudent, given changes to a borrower’s risk profile or delinquency status, using an appropriate valuation/appraisal methodology.

A FRFI should not arrange (or appear to arrange) with another lender, a mortgage or combination of a mortgage and other lending products (secured by the same property), in any form that circumvents the FRFI’s maximum LTV ratio or other limits in its RMUP, or any requirements established by law. For greater clarity, a FRFI should not engage in any transactions (e.g., co-lending, bundling a mortgage loan with various priority interests, or any funding structure involving other secured loans) with other lenders, where the combined LTV of the loan(s) secured against the property exceeds the FRFI’s specific LTV limits established within its LTV ratio framework. Footnote11

Down Payment

With respect to the borrower’s down payment for both insured and uninsured mortgages, FRFIs should make rigorous efforts to determine if it is sourced from the borrower’s own resources or savings.  Where part or all of the down payment is gifted to a borrower, it should be accompanied by a letter from those providing the gift confirming no recourse.  Where non-traditional sources of down payment (e.g., borrowed funds) are being used, further consideration should be given to establishing greater risk mitigation.  Incentive and rebate payments (i.e., “cash back”) should not be considered part of the down payment. Footnote12

Property Value used for the LTV Ratio

FRFIs should assess and adjust, as appropriate, the value of the property for the purposes of calculating the LTV and determining lending thresholds within LTV limits, including limits for conventional mortgage loans, non-conforming mortgage loans and HELOCs (see sub-sections below), by considering relevant risk factors that make the underlying property more vulnerable to a significant house price correction or that may significantly affect the marketability of the property.  These factors include, but are not limited to:

  • The location, type, and expected use of the property for which the loan is granted;
  • The property’s current market price, recent price trends and housing market conditions; and
  • Any other relevant risk that may affect the sustainability of the value of the underlying property.

In markets that have experienced rapid house price increases, FRFIs should use more conservative approaches to estimating the property value for LTV calculations and not assume that prices will remain stable or continue to rise.

For the purposes of incorporating property value risk and determining appropriate lending thresholds for mortgage loans, FRFIs have flexibility to apply valuation adjustments to specific properties when calculating LTV and/or by setting LTV ratio framework limits that consider and incorporate the property valuation risk factors described in this sub-section.

LTV Ratio and Loan Type

Residential mortgage loans are often defined with reference to their LTV ratio.  A FRFI’s LTV limit structure for underwriting loans should reflect the risk attributes of different types of mortgage loans and be consistent with its RMUP.  OSFI expects the average LTV ratios for all conforming and non-conforming residential mortgages to be less than the FRFI’s stated maximums, as articulated in its RMUP, and reflect a reasonable distribution across the portfolio.

(i) Non-Conventional (“High Ratio”) Mortgage Loans

Non-conventional, or “high ratio”, loans have higher LTV ratios (less equity) at origination and generally require mortgage insurance to mitigate risk (see Principle 5).  By law, residential mortgages underwritten for the purpose of purchasing, renovating or improving a property must be insured if their LTV ratios are greater than 80 percent. Footnote13

(ii) Conventional (“Low Ratio”) Mortgage Loans

Conventional, or “low ratio”, mortgage loans have lower LTV ratios (more equity) at origination and do not require mortgage insurance by law since their LTV ratios are equal to or less than 80 percent.

(iii) Non-Conforming Mortgage Loans

Non-conforming mortgage loans are a subset of conventional mortgage loans and are broadly defined as having higher-risk attributes or deficiencies, relative to other conventional mortgages.  OSFI expects FRFIs to develop and maintain a comprehensive and risk-based definition for non-conforming loans in their RMUPs.  In general, a FRFI’s definition should include any of the following:

  • Loans with insufficient income verification (i.e., do not meet principle 3);
  • Loans to borrowers with low credit scores;
  • Loans to borrowers with high debt serviceability ratios;
  • Loans with underlying property attributes that result in elevated credit risk (e.g., illiquid properties); or
  • Loans that otherwise have clear deficiencies relative to other conforming mortgages.

OSFI expects FRFIs to impose a maximum LTV ratio less than or equal to 65 percent for non-conforming residential mortgages.  This threshold should not be used as a demarcation point below which sound underwriting practices and borrower due diligence do not apply.

In general, the maximum lending threshold for a non-conforming loan should decrease as the risk of the transaction increases (e.g., due to presence of multiple higher-risk attributes or deficiencies in a loan application, the presence of higher risk factors around property valuation, etc.)

(iv) Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs)

A HELOCFootnote14 is a form of non-amortizing (revolving) credit that is secured by a residential property.  Unlike a traditional residential mortgage, most HELOCs are not constructed to fit a pre-determined amortization, although regular, minimum periodic payments are generally required by most lenders.

HELOC products provide an alternative source of funds for consumers.  However, FRFIs should recognize that, over time, these products can also significantly add to a consumer’s outstanding debt. While some borrowers may elect to repay their outstanding HELOC balances over a shorter period of time relative to the average amortization of a typical traditional mortgage, the revolving nature of HELOCs can also lead to greater persistence of outstanding balances, and greater risk of loss to lenders.  As well, it can be easier for borrowers to conceal potential financial distress by drawing on their lines of credit to make mortgage payments and, consequently, present a challenge for lenders to adequately assess changing credit risk exposures in a timely fashion.

Given the unique features of HELOCS relative to traditional residential mortgages, FRFIs should ensure appropriate mitigation of the associated risks of HELOCs, including the ability to expect full repayment over time, and the need for increased monitoring of a borrower’s credit quality.  In addition, FRFIs should review the authorized amount of a HELOC where any material decline in the value of the underlying property has occurred and/or the borrower’s financial condition has changed materially.  This expectation also applies where a HELOC is structured as part of a consolidated or linked mortgage loan product.

OSFI expects FRFIs to limit the non-amortizing HELOC component of a residential mortgage to a maximum authorized LTV ratio of less than or equal to 65 percent.Footnote15  OSFI expects the average LTV ratio for all HELOCs to be less than the FRFI’s stated maximums, as articulated in its RMUP, and reflect a reasonable distribution across the portfolio.

For greater clarity, in determining lending thresholds for HELOCs, OSFI expects FRFIs to apply the principles set out in the sub-sections “LTV Ratio Frameworks” and “Property Value used for the LTV Ratio”. In general, the maximum lending threshold for a HELOC should decrease as the risk of the transaction increases (e.g., due to presence of higher-risk borrower factors, the presence of higher risk factors around property valuation, etc.)

 

Principle 5: FRFIs should have effective credit and counterparty risk management practices and procedures that support residential mortgage underwriting and loan asset portfolio management, including, as appropriate, mortgage insurance.

Mortgage Insurance

Mortgage default insurance (mortgage insurance) is often used as a risk mitigation strategy.  However, mortgage insurance should not be a substitute for sound underwriting practices by FRFIs, as outlined in this Guideline.  It should not be considered a substitute for conducting adequate due diligence on the borrower, or for using other risk mitigants.

FRFIs may obtain mortgage insurance from CMHC and private mortgage insurance providers.  OSFI agrees that the use of either is appropriate, provided that a FRFI conduct due diligence on the mortgage insurer commensurate with its level of exposure to that insurer.  When performing such an assessment, a FRFI should give consideration to, among other things, the mortgage insurer’s:

  • Claims payment record;
  • Expected future claims obligations;
  • Balance sheet strength;
  • Funding sources, including the level of and access to capital, and form, amount and sources of liquidity;
  • Management, including the quality of its governance practices and procedures; and
  • Reinsurance arrangements and the direct and indirect impact that they may have on the FRFI’s own arrangements with the insurer.

The evaluation of each FRFI’s mortgage insurance counterparty should be updated throughout the life of the insurance contract.  In cases where there may be material exposures incurred but not reported losses, FRFI management should ensure that the evaluation continues beyond the expiration date of the contract to ensure that the FRFI assesses potential insurance recoverable from expected future claims.

For insured mortgages, FRFIs should meet any underwriting, valuation, or other information requirements set out by the mortgage insurer to ensure the validity of insurance on those loans.

Purchase of Mortgage Assets Originated by a Third Party

FRFIs that acquire residential mortgage loans that have been originated by a third party should ensure that the underwriting standards of that third party – including due diligence on the borrower, debt service coverage, collateral management, LTV ratios, etc. – are consistent with the FRFI’s RMUP and compliant with this Guideline.  FRFIs should not rely solely on the attestation of the third party.  In addition to underwriting, FRFIs should also consider the risks associated with other functions that may be performed by the third party in respect of acquired loans (e.g., servicing).

Model Validation and Stress Testing

FRFIs often use models to contribute to residential mortgage underwriting and/or acquisition decisions (e.g., valuation or bankruptcy models) or to make lending decisions by way of auto-adjudication.

FRFIs are expected to have an independent validation process at both inception and on a regular basis for these models.  This would include the regular review and recalibration of risk parameters with respect to their mortgage portfolio.  The models used should reflect the nature of the portfolio and, as appropriate, be adapted if there is substantial variation of risk within the portfolio.  This could include the development of new models to capture specific risk segments.

Additionally, FRFIs should have a stress-testing regime that considers unlikely, but plausible, scenarios and their potential impact on the residential mortgage portfolio.  The results of such stress testing should be considered in the on-going validation of any models and substantially reflected in FRFIs’ Internal Capital Adequacy Assessment Process (ICAAP)Footnote16 (deposit-taking institutions) or internal target capital ratio (insurance companies).

Higher-Risk Asset Portfolios

Heightened Prudence

FRFIs have the flexibility to underwrite and/or acquire a wide range of residential mortgages with varying risk profiles.  However, for residential mortgage loan asset portfolios of FRFIs that constitute greater credit risks (e.g., non-conforming mortgages), OSFI expects FRFIs to exercise heightened prudence through:

  • Greater Board and senior management oversight of the asset portfolio;
  • Increased reporting and monitoring of the residential mortgage loan asset portfolio by management;
  • Stronger internal controls (i.e., additional substantiation of credit qualification information, enhanced credit approval processes, greater scrutiny by the risk management oversight function, etc.);
  • Stronger default management and collections capabilities; and
  • Increased capital levels backstopping the impact of portfolio risk (see next section).

FRFIs should understand their mortgage portfolio risk dynamics, and ensure they are taken into account when refining their risk appetite expectations.

Adequacy of Regulatory Capital

OSFI expects that FRFIs will maintain adequate regulatory capital levels to properly reflect the risks being undertaken through the underwriting and/or acquisition of residential mortgages.  FRFIs should reflect mortgage loan assets with inherently greater risk either in their risk-based rating systems or through risk-sensitive increases in capital identified through their ICAAP (deposit-taking institutions) or internal target capital ratio (insurance companies).

III. Guideline Administration

Disclosure Requirements

Increased disclosure leads to greater transparency, clarity and public confidence in FRFI residential mortgage underwriting practices.  As a matter of principle, FRFIs should publicly disclose sufficient information related to their residential mortgage portfolios for market participants to be able to conduct an adequate evaluation of the soundness and condition of FRFIs’ residential mortgage operations.

Public disclosures related to residential mortgages should include, but not limited to, the publishing by residential mortgage lenders and acquirers that are FRFIs, on a quarterly basis, and in a format and location that will support public availability and comprehension:

  • The amount and percentage of the total residential mortgage loans and HELOCs that are insured versus uninsured.  This should include the FRFI’s definition of “insured”.  In addition, a geographic breakdown for the amount and percentage of the total residential mortgage loans and HELOCs that are insured versus uninsured – provincially in Canada, as well as from foreign operations;
  • The percentage of residential mortgages that fall within various amortization period ranges significant for the FRFI, e.g., 20-24 years, 25-29 years, 30-34 years, 35 years and greater – in Canada, as well as from foreign operations;
  • The average LTV ratio for the newly originated and acquired uninsured residential mortgages and HELOCs at the end of each period.  In addition, a geographic breakdown for the average LTV ratio for the newly originated and acquired uninsured residential mortgage loans and HELOCs – provincially in Canada, as well as from foreign operations; and
  • A discussion on the potential impact on residential mortgage loans and HELOCs in the event of an economic downturn.

To meet the above disclosure requirements, the presentation of foreign operations can be grouped into one category, such as “other jurisdictions”.

Supervision of FRFI

Information for Supervisory Purposes

Enhanced transparency and sound documentation, will allow OSFI to better understand the FRFI’s financial position and economic impacts and risks associated with a FRFI’s residential mortgage underwriting and acquisition practices.  A FRFI is required to maintain and provide to OSFI, upon request, its RMUP and associated management reports.  A FRFI should promptly inform OSFI if it becomes aware of any mortgage underwriting issues that could materially impact its financial condition.

Non-compliance with the Guideline

OSFI supervises FRFIs in order to determine whether they are in sound financial condition and to promptly advise the FRFI Board and Senior Management in the event the institution is not in sound financial condition or is not complying with supervisory requirements. OSFI is required to take, or require the Board and/or Senior Management to take, necessary corrective measures or series of measures to deal with prudential soundness issues in an expeditious manner and to promote the adoption by management and boards of directors of financial institutions of policies and procedures designed to control and manage risk.

Where a FRFI fails to adequately account and control for the risks of underwriting or acquisition of residential mortgages, on a case-by-case basis, OSFI can take, or require the FRFI to take, corrective measures.  OSFI actions can include heightened supervisory activity and/or the discretionary authority to adjust the FRFI’s capital requirements or authorized leverage ratio, commensurate with the risks being undertaken by the FRFI.

IV. Other Guidance

This Guideline is complementary to, and should be read in conjunction with, other OSFI guidance:

  • Corporate Governance Guideline
  • Guideline B-1 (Prudent Person Approach)
  • Guideline B-2 (Large Exposure Limits)
  • Guideline B-8 (Deterring and Detecting Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing)
  • Guideline B-10 (Outsourcing of Business Activities, Functions and Processes)
  • Guideline E-21 (Operational Risk Management)
  • Capital Adequacy Requirements Guideline
  • Leverage Requirements Guideline
  • Guideline A-4 (Regulatory Capital and Internal Capital Targets)

Footnotes

Footnote 1
This includes financial institutions incorporated, continued or regulated under the Bank ActTrust and Loan Companies ActInsurance Companies Act and the Cooperative Credit Associations Act.

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Footnote 2
For the purpose of this Guideline, an “insured mortgage” refers to a mortgage loan that is insured against loss caused by default on the part of a borrower, under a loan secured by real property (i.e., one- to four-unit dwellings) or chattel, or for a property that is on-reserve.  This includes both individual transaction and portfolio insurance.  It does not include separate insurance products that often accompany mortgage loans, such as: life, disability, illness, loss of employment, title, or property valuation insurance.

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Footnote 3
For greater clarity, this includes an individual borrower, personal investment company, personal holding company, or personal trust. This does not include commercial loans, such as loans to entities engaged in residential real estate investments or transactions where a residential property is used in support of a commercial credit application.

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Footnote 4
The RMUP can be one consolidated document or a set of mortgage policy documents.

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Footnote 5
The requirements for the Risk Appetite Framework are summarized in the OSFI Corporate Governance guideline.

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Footnote 6
Typically, these processes are carried out by the FRFI’s risk management oversight function.

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Footnote 7
This includes a borrower’s agreement to obtain property insurance, as a condition of mortgage approval, as well as proof of property insurance obtained by the FRFI when the mortgage funds are disbursed.

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Footnote 4
The RMUP can be one consolidated document or a set of mortgage policy documents.

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Footnote 5
The requirements for the Risk Appetite Framework are summarized in the OSFI Corporate Governance Guideline.

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Footnote 6
Typically, these processes are carried out by the FRFI’s risk management oversight function.

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Footnote 7
This includes a borrower’s agreement to obtain property insurance, as a condition of mortgage approval, as well as proof of property insurance obtained by the FRFI when the mortgage funds are disbursed.

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Footnote 8
The PCMLTFA and the PCMLTFR do not apply to property and casualty insurance companies.

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Footnote 9
The benchmark rate (5-yr conventional mortgage rate) is published weekly by the Bank of Canada in Series V80691335.

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Footnote 10
From an operational risk perspective, obtaining recourse to a borrower’s foreign assets, in the event of default, may be more challenging for FRFIs.

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Footnote 11
This restriction does not apply in cases where the additional secured funding is provided by a municipal, territorial, provincial or the federal government.

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Footnote 12
Incentive and rebate payments (i.e., “cash back”) may be considered as part of the down payment in cases related to Affordable Housing Programs that are funded by a municipal, territorial, provincial or the federal government. OSFI expects a FRFI to exercise increased oversight, control, and reporting in respect of such transactions.

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Footnote 13
See the Bank Act, subsection 418(1); Trust and Loan Companies Act, subsection 418(1); Insurance Companies Act, subsection 469(1); and the Cooperative Credit Associations Act, subsection 382.1 (1).

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Footnote 14
For the purpose of this guideline, all reverse mortgages, or any non-amortizing (revolving) credit product secured by residential property, are considered to be HELOCs.

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Footnote 15
Additional mortgage credit (beyond the LTV ratio limit of 65 percent for HELOCs) can be extended to a borrower.  However, the loan portion over the 65 percent LTV ratio threshold should be amortized.

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Footnote 16
Deposit-taking institutions establish a level of capital adequate to support the nature and level of an institution’s risk.  Each federally-regulated deposit-taking institution is responsible for developing and implementing its own ICAAP for the purpose of setting internal capital targets and developing strategies for achieving those internal targets that are consistent with its business plans, risk profile and operating environment. See OSFI Guideline E-19 Internal Capital Adequacy Assessment Process.

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New Mortgage Rules Jan 1 2018

For anyone looking to buy or refinance this may greatly impact your ability to borrow. For more information please contact me.

OSFI is reinforcing a strong and prudent regulatory regime for residential mortgage underwriting

OTTAWA – October 17, 2017 – Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Canada

Today the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Canada (OSFI) published the final version of Guideline B-20 − Residential Mortgage Underwriting Practices and Procedures. The revised Guideline, which comes into effect on January 1, 2018, applies to all federally regulated financial institutions.

The changes to Guideline B-20 reinforce OSFI’s expectation that federally regulated mortgage lenders remain vigilant in their mortgage underwriting practices. The final Guideline focuses on the minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages, expectations around loan-to-value (LTV) frameworks and limits, and restrictions to transactions designed to circumvent those LTV limits.

OSFI is setting a new minimum qualifying rate, or “stress test,” for uninsured mortgages.

  • Guideline B-20 now requires the minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages to be the greater of the five-year benchmark rate published by the Bank of Canada or the contractual mortgage rate +2%.

OSFI is requiring lenders to enhance their loan-to-value (LTV) measurement and limits so they will be dynamic and responsive to risk.

  • Under the final Guideline, federally regulated financial institutions must establish and adhere to appropriate LTV ratio limits that are reflective of risk and are updated as housing markets and the economic environment evolve.

OSFI is placing restrictions on certain lending arrangements that are designed, or appear designed to circumvent LTV limits.

  • A federally regulated financial institution is prohibited from arranging with another lender a mortgage, or a combination of a mortgage and other lending products, in any form that circumvents the institution’s maximum LTV ratio or other limits in its residential mortgage underwriting policy, or any requirements established by law.

Quote

“These revisions to Guideline B-20 reinforce a strong and prudent regulatory regime for residential mortgage underwriting in Canada,” said Superintendent Jeremy Rudin.

Quick Facts

  • On July 7, 2017, OSFI published draft revisions to Guideline B-20 – Residential Mortgage Underwriting Practices and Procedures. The consultation period ended on August 17, 2017.
  • OSFI received more than 200 submissions from federally regulated financial institutions, financial industry associations, other organizations active in the mortgage market, as well as the general public.
  • The cover letter includes an unattributed summary of the comments and an explanation of how these issues were dealt with in the final Guideline B-20.
  • Following publication of Guideline B-20 OSFI plans to assess Guideline B-21 − Residential Mortgage Insurance Underwriting Practices and Procedures for consequential amendments.

Associated Links

About OSFI

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Canada (OSFI) is an independent agency of the Government of Canada, established in 1987 to protect depositors, policyholders, financial institution creditors and pension plan members, while allowing financial institutions to compete and take reasonable risks.

Media Contact:
Annik Faucher
OSFI – Public Affairs
annik.faucher@osfi-bsif.gc.ca 
613-990-8670