The Government has made three changes to the standards governing government-backed mortgages.
Qualifying at a Five-Year Rate
Current interest rates are at record low levels, which has improved the affordability of housing for Canadians. It is important that Canadians borrow prudently and are able to manage their debt loads when interest rates rise.
Lender and mortgage insurers look at two key ratios when assessing the ability of a borrower to make payments on a mortgage loan:
Gross Debt Service (GDS) ratio—the ratio of the carrying costs of the home, including the mortgage payment, taxes and heating costs, to the borrower's income.
Total Debt Service (TDS) ratio—the ratio of the carrying costs of the home and all other debt payments to the borrower's total income.
Currently, the interest rate used to determine the mortgage payment for these calculations is either the rate fixed for the term of the mortgage or, in the case of a variable-rate mortgage and mortgages with terms of less than three years, the greater of the contract rate and the prevailing three-year fixed rate.
The adjustments to the mortgage framework will require mortgage insurers to ensure that borrowers qualify for their mortgage amount using the greater of the contract rate or the interest rate for a five-year fixed rate mortgage when calculating the GDS and TDS ratios.
This measure is intended to protect Canadians by providing them with additional flexibility to support mortgage payments at higher interest rates in the future.
Limit the Maximum Refinancing Amount to 90 per cent of the Loan-to-Value Ratio
Borrowers seeking financial flexibility can currently refinance their mortgage and increase the amount they are borrowing on the security of their home up to a limit of 95 per cent of the value of the property. This type of refinancing lowers the borrower's equity in their home. The adjustments today will lower the maximum amount of the mortgage loan in a refinancing of a government-backed high ratio mortgage loan to 90 per cent of the value of the property, consistent with the principle that home ownership is a tool for savings.
Discouraging Speculation by Requiring a Minimum Down Payment of 20 per cent for non-owner-occupied properties
This measure will require a minimum down payment of 20 per cent for government-backed mortgage insurance on non-owner-occupied properties purchased for speculation. Currently, borrowers may purchase a residential property with a 5 per cent down payment. Today's change will require a 20 per cent down payment for small (i.e., 1- to 4-unit) non-owner-occupied residential rental properties. Borrowers purchasing owner-occupied residential properties which also include some rental units (e.g., borrowers purchasing a duplex to live in one unit and rent out the other) will still be able to access government-backed mortgage insurance with a 5 per cent down payment.