Canada’s slumping housing market weighs on Home Capital’s loans

The tumult in Canada’s housing market is starting to take its toll on lenders, with Home Capital Group Inc. reporting a plunge in third-quarter originations.

Home Capital, which lends largely to borrowers considered somewhat riskier than prime customers, said Tuesday that single-family mortgage originations plummeted 28 per cent from a year earlier. The lender’s so-called Alt-A borrowers include self-employed workers or those who are new to Canada and don’t have extensive credit histories. Total mortgage originations fell 23 per cent to $1.85 billion (US$1.38 billion), missing the $2.5 billion estimate of Royal Bank of Canada analyst Geoffrey Kwan. 

Sales activity in Canada’s housing market has slowed, with transactions down 32 per cent in September from a year earlier, as the Bank of Canada’s aggressive rate-hiking campaign ratchets up mortgage costs. Prices have fallen for seven straight months, and are down almost 9 per cent from their peak.

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The market spiral had yet to make its way to lenders’ results, with Canada’s biggest banks all reporting growth in their mortgage books in their most recent earnings. Home Capital’s results provide a window into a segment of borrowers who are considered riskier than those the big banks typically take on, and therefore pay more to borrow.

“The housing market is currently in a period of transition as buyers and sellers adjust to a higher-interest-rate environment,” Home Capital Chief Executive Officer Yousry Bissada said in a statement, adding that the Toronto-based company expects “softer market conditions to persist in the near term.”

The drop in originations contributed to Home Capital’s net income falling 43 per cent to $31 million, or 77 cents a share. Excluding some items, profit was 95 cents a share, matching analysts’ estimates.

Home Capital’s shares fell 4.8 per cent to $25.23 at 10:32 a.m. in Toronto, bringing their decline this year to 35 per cent. That’s the fourth-worst performance in the 29-company S&P/TSX Financials Index. 

Despite the market turmoil, Home Capital’s borrowers have continued to make payments on their mortgages. Net non-performing loans accounted for 0.16 per cent of gross loans last quarter. That compares with 0.15 per cent a year earlier and 0.47 per cent in the same period in 2020.

-Bloomberg

Winter Checklist

  • Check and clean or replace furnace air filters each month during the heating season. Ventilation systems, such as heat recovery ventilator filters, should be checked every two months.
  • After consulting your hot water tank owner’s manual, drain off a dishpan full of water from the clean-out valve at the bottom of your hot water tank to control sediment and maintain efficiency.
  • Clean your humidifier two or three times during the winter season.
  • Vacuum bathroom fan grills to ensure proper ventilation.
  • Vacuum fire and smoke detectors, as dust or spiderwebs can prevent them from functioning.
  • Vacuum radiator grills on the back of refrigerators and freezers, and empty and clean drip trays.
  • Check gauges on all fire extinguishers, and recharge or replace as necessary.
  • Check fire escape routes, door and window locks and hardware, and lighting around the home’s exterior. Ensure your family has good security habits.
  • Check the basement floor drain to ensure the trap contains water. Refill with water if necessary.
  • Monitor your home for excessive moisture levels – for instance, since condensation on your windows can cause significant damage over time and pose serious health problems, this requires corrective action.
  • Check all faucets for signs of dripping and change washers as needed. Faucets requiring frequent replacement of washers may be in need of repair or replacement.
  • If you have a plumbing fixture that’s not used frequently, such as a laundry tub or spare bathroom sink, tub or shower stall, briefly run some water to keep water in the trap.
  • Clean drains in the dishwasher, sinks, bathtubs and shower stalls.
  • Test plumbing shut-off valves to ensure they’re working and to prevent them from seizing.
  • Examine windows and doors for ice accumulation or cold air leaks. If found, make a note for repair or replacement in the spring.
  • Examine attic for frost accumulation. Check roof for ice dams or icicles. If there’s excessive frost or staining of the underside of the roof, or ice dams on the roof surface, be sure to have an expert look into the issue.
  • Check electrical cords, plugs and outlets for all indoor and outdoor seasonal lights to ensure fire safety. If showing signs of wear, or if plugs/cords feel warm, replace immediately.

Bank of Canada expected to raise interest rates on Wednesday as recession fears grow

Even as warnings about a potential recession grow louder, the Bank of Canada is expected to announce another hefty interest rate hike on Wednesday, edging the bank closer to the end of one of the fastest monetary policy tightening cycles in its history.  

RBC senior economist Nathan Janzen says it’s a coin toss between the Bank of Canada choosing to raise its key interest rate by half a percentage point or three-quarters of a percentage point, though RBC is leaning toward the smaller increase. 

“It’s pretty clear that more aggressive interest rate hikes are still warranted,” Janzen said. 

Wednesday’s announcement would make it the sixth consecutive time the Bank of Canada raises interest rates this year in response to decades-high inflation. It also comes amid growing fears that a recession is looming. 

Last week, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland shifted her tone on the economy from her usual praises of Canada’s strong pandemic economic recovery. She warned tough times are ahead for Canadians. 

“Mortgage payments will rise. Business will no longer be booming,” Freeland said. “Our unemployment rate will no longer be at its record low.”

As well as the interest rate decision, the Bank of Canada will also release updated economic projections on Wednesday in its latest quarterly monetary policy report. The central bank’s outlook on inflation will be key to its plans for any additional rate hikes to come.

Since March, the Bank of Canada has raised its key interest rate from 0.25 to 3.25 per cent, feeding into higher borrowing costs for Canadians and businesses.

And although inflation has been slowing in recent months thanks to tumbling gas prices, the central bank has made it clear it doesn’t believe its job is done just yet.   

“Simply put, there is more to be done,” Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem said during a speech in Halifax on Oct. 6.  

As the Bank of Canada raises interest rates to bring inflation back to its two per cent target, officials at the central bank have expressed concern about how high inflation still is and its impact on consumer and business expectations for future inflation.  

In September, the annual inflation rate slowed to 6.9 per cent, though the bank’s preferred core measures of inflation, which tend to be less volatile, were unchanged from August. 

Grocery prices also continued to climb, with the cost of food up a staggering 11.4 per cent compared with a year ago.

There is some good news for the Bank of Canada on the inflation expectations front. Its recent business outlook survey showed businesses expect wages and prices to rise more slowly as their overall inflation expectations have eased. 

The good news, however, won’t be enough to dissuade the bank from another sizable rate hike, Janzen said.  

“There are some indicators that we’re past peak inflation rates. It’s just those inflation rates are still too high, currently, and still way too broad right now to prevent additional interest rate increases,” Janzen said.  

Most commercial banks expect one more interest rate hike after October before the bank hits pause on one of its most aggressive rate-hiking cycles in history.  

The effect of these rate hikes is expected to be felt more broadly in the economy next year as Canadians and businesses adjust their spending.  

While there is some division among economists on how severe the impending economic slowdown will be, many economists estimate the chances of a recession have grown.  

Recent surveys from the Bank of Canada reveal most Canadians and businesses also believe a recession is on the way. 

However, many economists have highlighted that Canada’s tight labour market might serve as a buffer during an economic downturn. In September, the unemployment rate was 5.2 per cent, which is considered to be quite low. 

Although the Bank of Canada has previously spoken about aiming for a “soft landing,” where inflation comes down without triggering a serious economic slowdown, Macklem said in recent weeks that the primary goal of the bank is to restore price stability.  

That commitment has sparked worries in labour groups, which have come out against the aggressive rate-hiking path over concerns about the potential impact of a recession on employment.  

A new report by the Centre for Future Work in collaboration with the Canadian Labour Congress is calling on the Bank of Canada to pause its rate hikes until it can assess the impact of previous interest rate increases on the economy.  

“After three years of dealing with both the health and the economic consequences of an unprecedented pandemic, the last thing Canadians can tolerate is another recession,” the report by Jim Stanford reads.  

Stanford, an economist and the director of the Centre for Future Work, makes the case in the report for a different approach to addressing high inflation.  

Instead of continuing along the path of higher interest rates, Stanford recommends the Bank of Canada balance its goal of restoring low and stable inflation with promoting economic growth and maintaining employment.  

In the report, Stanford also calls on the federal government to play a more active role in fighting inflation by exploring options such as tax increases on high-income earners and windfall taxes on profitable corporations.  

What ‘higher and faster’ Bank of Canada rate hikes could mean for home

The Bank of Canada’s move to hike its policy rate by 50 basis points Wednesday will be quickly noticed by variable-rate mortgage holders and Canadians holding a home equity line of credit, but if inflation persists and rates have to rise more quickly — something the central bank’s chief acknowledged was a possibility — the effects are not likely to stop there.

“Higher and faster rate hikes will affect mortgage affordability for a significant population of homebuyers,” RatesDotCA mortgage agent Sung Lee told the Financial Post in an e-mail. “Major banks have already pushed fixed rates higher several times over the past few weeks with some approaching the four per cent mark for uninsured products.”

The Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto-Dominion Bank were the first of the Big Six to react to the shifting interest rate environment, lifting their prime rates by 50 basis points to 3.20 per cent starting on Thursday, with Scotiabank and CIBC quickly following suit.

But the ripples from the rate increase could extend beyond mortgage carrying costs.

James Laird, co-founder of Ratehub.ca, noted that higher mortgage rates are expected to put downward pressure on home prices across the country. The national average price of a home reached $816,720 in February, according to figures from the Canadian Real Estate Association.

And here could be more pressure weighing on Canadian home owners as Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem said he was prepared to get more aggressive with interest rate policy depending on how the economy recovers and how the outlook for inflation, which stood at a 30-year high of 5.7 per cent in February readings, evolves.

“If demand responds quickly to higher rates and inflationary pressures moderate, it may be appropriate to pause our tightening once we get closer to the neutral rate and take stock,” Macklem told reporters during a Wednesday press conference. “On the other hand, we may need to take rates modestly above neutral for a period to bring demand and supply back into balance and inflation back to target.”

The Bank of Canada estimates that a neutral rate stands between two per cent and three per cent. Macklem suggested the benchmark rate could rise above that range, potentially taking the overnight rate to 3.25 per cent.

“Rates are going up this year, but we do not know what next year will bring. This creates a bit of a roller coaster experience for current and would-be homeowners,” wrote Leah Zlatkin, a licensed mortgage broker at LowestRates.ca. “These increased costs have a real impact on homeowners’ wallets. Some variable rate holders may think about switching to a fixed rate to bring some stability to their outlook, but anyone with variable rate will still be saving money over a fixed rate right now.”

Zlatkin added that if the Bank of Canada raises interest rates as much as 150 more basis points over the course of the year, it would bring prime rates to around 4.7 per cent.

“There is a whole cohort of home owners that have never experienced a mortgage rate over four per cent,” Allison Van Rooijen, vice-president of consumer credit at Canadian credit union Meridian, told the Financial Post. “It’s been so long since rates have been at the four per cent or higher range, and we’re starting to see that increase now on the fixed rate side and we expect it’s going to continue to persist.”

Van Rooijen added that the good news is lenders typically look for financial resiliency with their clients and ensure borrowers can withstand rate increases. However, if mortgage holders are beginning to feel a pinch in their monthly expenses, it could be time to seek out professional help and weigh their options.

“There has been a ton of innovation in in the mortgage space and the debt consolidation space even in the last five years,” Van Rooijen said. “There may be solutions borrowers aren’t aware of at this point in time that can help them before things get worse or before rates go up to a point that they’re really pinched.”

-Steph Huges, Calgary Herald

Record high sales seen again in March

For the second month in a row, sales activity not only reached a monthly high but also hit new record highs for any given month. Gains occurred across every property type as they all hit new record highs.

An increase in new listings this month helped support the growth in sales activity. However, inventories have remained relatively low, ensuring the market continues to favour the seller. 

“While supply levels have improved from levels seen over the past four months, inventory levels are still well below what we traditionally see in March, thanks to stronger than expected sales activity,” said CREB® Chief Economist Ann-Marie Lurie. “With just over one month of supply in the market, the persistently tight market conditions continue to place significant upward pressure on prices.”

With an unadjusted benchmark price of $518,600 this month, the monthly gain increased by another four per cent. After three consecutive gains, prices have risen by nearly $55,000 since December and currently sit nearly 18 per cent higher than last year’s levels.

Despite the strong start to the year, price gains and rising lending rates are expected to weigh on demand in the second half of this year. Nonetheless, persistently tight conditions will likely continue to impact the market over the next several months.
Detached

Sales continued to surge in March reaching record highs, thanks to a boost in new listings. Year-over-year sales growth occurred in every district of the city except the City Centre. The pullback in the City Centre is likely related to the significant drop in new listings, providing less choice for potential buyers.  

The months of supply for detached homes has been below one month since December. The exceptionally tight conditions have had a significant impact on home prices. The benchmark price for detached properties rose to $620,500 in March, which is over $73,000 higher than December levels and 20 per cent higher than levels recorded last year. Gains in prices have also caused a significant shift in the distribution of homes, where over 57 per cent of the available supply is priced over $600,000.

Semi-Detached

Semi-detached sales posted another record month of sales and year-to-date sales are over 43 per cent higher than last year. Improvements in new listings helped support some of the growth in sales but did little to improve the inventory situation.  

Inventory levels remain relatively low, causing the months of supply to remain nearly 70 per cent lower than long term trends for this time of year. Tight conditions caused prices to trend up again this month, for an unadjusted monthly gain of nearly four per cent. Prices trended up across all districts and are 16 per cent higher than last March. Year-over-year price gains have ranged from a low of nine per cent in the City Centre to a high of nearly 22 per cent in the North district.

Row

Row sales reached an all-time record high this month, contributing to year-to-date sales of 1,550 units, which is a 96 per cent increase over last year. An increase in new listings helped support the strong sales. However, inventory levels have been steadily declining compared to the previous year and are at the lowest March levels seen compared to the past seven years. Strong sales this month combined with the lower inventory levels saw the months of supply push below one month.

The persistently tight conditions have placed significant upward pressure on prices. In March, the benchmark price reached $335,400, which is over four per cent higher than last month and nearly 17 per cent higher than last year. While strong gains have occurred across all districts of the city, the North East, North West, South and East districts have not yet recorded full price recovery from their previous highs.

Apartment Condominium

Apartment sales continued to surge in March, contributing to the best start of the year on record. The sudden shift in demand could be related to less supply choice in lower price ranges for other property types, causing many to turn to the condominium market. The rise in sales has outpaced the growth in new listings, causing inventories to ease compared to last year and the months of supply to drop to the lowest recorded since 2007.

After several months of tight conditions, we are seeing upward pressure on prices. In March, the benchmark price rose to $265,900 – nearly three per cent higher than last month and six per cent higher than last year. The recent gain in price has helped support some price recovery in this sector, but prices remain over 11 per cent below previous highs.
REGIONAL MARKET FACTS
Airdrie

For the second month in row, new listings in Airdrie reached a record high for the month. This helped support further sales growth in the city. The sales to new listings ratio has eased to 75 per cent, providing some opportunity to see inventory levels improve relative to figures recorded over the previous five months. However, inventory levels remain exceptionally low relative to sales, keeping the months of supply below one month.

There has been less than one month of supply in this market since November of last year. The exceptionally tight conditions have caused significant gains in prices. In March, the benchmark price rose to $473,400, nearly 10 per cent higher than last month and 30 per cent higher than last year. The highest gains occurred for both detached and semi-detached homes.

Cochrane

Sales this month reached new record highs and are more than double the levels traditionally seen in March. Like most markets, Cochrane has struggled with strong demand relative to the supply. Inventory levels did edge up over last month but with only 86 units available, it is still among the lowest levels of March inventory recorded for the town. It was also the fifth consecutive month that the months of supply remained below one month.

The persistently tight market conditions resulted in further price gains. In March, the benchmark price reached $520,000, which is nearly six per cent higher than last month and 23 per cent higher than last year’s levels.

Okotoks

Like Airdrie and Calgary, sales in Okotoks reached a new all-time record high this March. Improving sales were possible thanks to a gain in new listings. The increase in new listings this month also helped support some modest gains in inventory levels compared to what has been available in the market over the past seven months. However, with only 99 units available and 113 sales, the months of supply still remains exceptionally tight at under one month.

Persistently tight market conditions have caused persistent upward pressure on prices. After five months of consecutive gains, the benchmark price in March reached $534,200, nearly 13 per cent higher than last year.

Bank of Canada increases policy interest rate

The Bank of Canada today increased its target for the overnight rate to ½ %, with the Bank Rate at ¾ % and the deposit rate at ½ %. The Bank is continuing its reinvestment phase, keeping its overall holdings of Government of Canada bonds on its balance sheet roughly constant until such time as it becomes appropriate to allow the size of its balance sheet to decline.

The unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by Russia is a major new source of uncertainty. Prices for oil and other commodities have risen sharply. This will add to inflation around the world, and negative impacts on confidence and new supply disruptions could weigh on global growth. Financial market volatility has increased. The situation remains fluid and we are following events closely.

Global economic data has come in broadly in line with projections in the Bank’s January Monetary Policy Report (MPR). Economies are emerging from the impact of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 more quickly than expected, although the virus continues to circulate and the possibility of new variants remains a concern. Demand is robust, particularly in the United States. Global supply bottlenecks remain challenging, although there are indications that some constraints have eased.

Economic growth in Canada was very strong in the fourth quarter of last year at 6.7%. This is stronger than the Bank’s projection and confirms its view that economic slack has been absorbed. Both exports and imports have picked up, consistent with solid global demand. In January, the recovery in Canada’s labour market suffered a setback due to the Omicron variant, with temporary layoffs in service sectors and elevated employee absenteeism. However, the rebound from Omicron now appears to be well in train: household spending is proving resilient and should strengthen further with the lifting of public health restrictions. Housing market activity is more elevated, adding further pressure to house prices. Overall, first-quarter growth is now looking more solid than previously projected.

CPI inflation is currently at 5.1%, as expected in January, and remains well above the Bank’s target range. Price increases have become more pervasive, and measures of core inflation have all risen. Poor harvests and higher transportation costs have pushed up food prices. The invasion of Ukraine is putting further upward pressure on prices for both energy and food-related commodities. All told, inflation is now expected to be higher in the near term than projected in January. Persistently elevated inflation is increasing the risk that longer-run inflation expectations could drift upwards. The Bank will use its monetary policy tools to return inflation to the 2% target and keep inflation expectations well-anchored.

The policy rate is the Bank’s primary monetary policy instrument. As the economy continues to expand and inflation pressures remain elevated, the Governing Council expects interest rates will need to rise further. The Governing Council will also be considering when to end the reinvestment phase and allow its holdings of Government of Canada bonds to begin to shrink. The resulting quantitative tightening (QT) would complement increases in the policy interest rate. The timing and pace of further increases in the policy rate, and the start of QT, will be guided by the Bank’s ongoing assessment of the economy and its commitment to achieving the 2% inflation target.

Information note

The next scheduled date for announcing the overnight rate target is April 13, 2022. The Bank will publish its next full outlook for the economy and inflation, including risks to the projection, in the MPR at the same time.

-Bank of Canada

Mortgage Stress Test Rate Increases

Five year fixed interest rates have been rising steadily since last summer / fall from a discounted low of approximately 1.69% to current discounted rates of 2.99% The five year rates are set using the five year benchmark bond as a base or source of funds. On another note, The Bank of Canada meets March 2nd to review the overnight rate which the banks use to determine prime and variable rates. Prime is very likely to increase as well.  

A few points to remember and consider;

  • The stress test rate is used to qualify mortgage applicants, currently 5.25% or contract rate plus 2%.
  • The rate is set by the Ministry of Finance using bank posted rates as a guideline.
  • As five year rates are rising in our current environment expect the banks to increase their posted rates.
  • Once the posted rates are increased the stress test rate will increase. Your buyers will qualify for a smaller mortgage.
  • IT IS CERTAIN THE STRESS TEST RATE IS GOING UP.
  • Let’s say the stress test rate goes up by ¼ % to 5.5 %. For each 25 basis point increase or ¼ % increase buyers loose approximately 2.3% of their purchasing power.
  • It is reasonable to expect the stress test rate will go up by ½ % this year. Who knows but seems reasonable.
  • For a typical average price house in Calgary of $475,000, buyers would get a $22,000 smaller mortgage.
  • Lots of assumptions about maxed out debt service ratios and such but still buyers will be getting smaller mortgages soon.
  • Big scheme of things, nothing we as realtors, mortgage brokers, and buyers can do about this, but it might be crucial for some buyers to act sooner rather than later
  • Also this could really impact folks refinancing and needing to get to a certain mortgage amount for equity out of their existing house to get a down payment

CREB® 2022 Forecast: Calgary housing market expected to remain strong this year after record-breaking 2021

According to the report, housing market activity in 2022 is expected to moderate relative to record levels of activity in 2021, while remaining stronger than historical levels.

“Despite challenges with COVID-19, we are starting to see a turnaround in our job and migration numbers, and while interest rates are expected to rise, they remain relatively low. All these factors are expected to support strong housing demand into 2022,” said CREB® Chief Economist Ann-Marie Lurie. 

“The biggest question will be whether supply can meet that demand. It will take time for housing to move out of sellers’ market conditions, so we do anticipate prices will continue to rise this year.”

Rising lending rates are expected to cool some of the demand later this year, but rates are still exceptionally low, supporting strong housing sales, especially from those who experienced increased savings and equity gains throughout the pandemic.  Lurie says economic improvements are also expected to support both job and population growth, adding new sources of demand for housing.

“Despite challenges with COVID-19, we are starting to see a turnaround in our job and migration numbers, and while interest rates are expected to rise, they remain relatively low. All these factors are expected to support strong housing demand into 2022.” – CREB® Chief Economist Ann-Marie Lurie. 

During the pandemic, supply has been a struggle for many industries, including the housing market. New listings have improved, but Lurie says it has not been enough to offset high sales levels, keeping inventories relatively low and likely limiting sales growth in the market. 

As we move through 2022, Lurie says new listings in the resale market should remain relatively strong thanks to higher home prices. At the same time, the new-home sector recorded a surge in starts last year, and the completion of those starts should help add to overall supply choice in the market.

Supply levels are expected to improve relative to demand this year, according to the report. However, conditions are expected to remain relatively tight throughout the spring market, supporting further price gains. 

As the market balance gradually improves, Lurie says upward price pressure in the housing market should ease. Overall, price growth is expected to ease to four per cent in 2022.

“While conditions in the housing market are expected to remain strong, there is a significant amount of uncertainty that could impact housing,” said Lurie. 

“If supply levels remain low relative to demand, we could see stronger-than-expected price growth. On the other hand, if rates rise much faster and higher than expected, it could cause a more significant pullback in sales.”

-CREB

Weekly Showing Report

A quick request to start this weeks showing report. I’d like to start including an entertaining story from the interesting things that we see while showing properties. This will be anonymous, so if you have a funny showing story you would like to share with me, please send it over and I will try and include it in future emails.

This week’s showing report is showing a decent drop off in activity across Alberta which is fascinating as we had another uptick on showings for CIR Realty’s showings. For CIR’s showing activity we saw a big jump in the $300,000 – $500,000 price ranges.  In fact, we had over 1,000 showings in that price range in a single week!!

We have also been tracking the weekly sales activity to correlate it to the number of showings, and while it is early in the process to tell, it appears that there is a two week lag from heightened showings to the sales increasing.  Based on that, we should see an increase in sales volume over the next couple of weeks as we have had increases in showings for two straight weeks so we will keep a close eye on that. 

If these correlations are correct, then I am anticipating based on the showing activity in April, that there is an excess of buyers in the $500,000 – $600,000 and $700,000 – $800,000 range that are looking but have not bought yet.  And based on this weeks and last activity we may see a jump in sales in the $400,000 – $500,000 range.  

We will keep a close watch to see if these trends develop further.

-Steve Phillips, CIR Realty

Mortgage and Consumer Credit Trends: Q4 2021 Data

Our latest release of Mortgage and Consumer Credit Trends data tables cover the fourth quarter of 2020. Here are some key highlights from the data:

Delinquency rates edged lower across all credit types

Mortgage delinquency rates in Canada edged lower to 0.25%. This is the lowest level in the five years that CMHC has reported mortgage delinquency rates. Rates in the major CMAs were below the national average and have fallen to:

  • 0.10% in Toronto
  • 0.14% in Vancouver
  • 0.20% in Montréal

Delinquency rates trended lower across all non-mortgage credit types compared to Q4 2019 to:

  • 1.18% for credit cards (down by  44 basis points)
  • 1.70% for car loans (down by 29 basis points)
  • 0.55% for lines of credit (LOC) (down by 9 basis points)
  • 0.15% for home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) (down by 2 basis points)

Mortgage holders continue to have lower delinquency rates for all other major credit types compared to consumers without a mortgage. That said, the gap between the two groups shrunk.

Mortgage delinquency rates trended lower across all age cohorts:

  • The 25 to 34 year olds, who are typically first-time homebuyers, saw their rate decline to 0.20%, the lowest level of any cohort. This age group accounts for 15% of all mortgage holders.
  • Seniors aged 65 and over, who account for 12% of all mortgage holders, registered the highest delinquency rate of 0.33%.

Delinquency rates declined across all mortgage loan amounts. The highest delinquency rate, at 0.32%, remained for mortgages with the lowest value at origination that is less than $200,000.   

Borrower credit scores trended higher

The share of outstanding and newly originated mortgages held by consumers with a high credit score (700 and above) continued to edge higher. For the outstanding mortgage loans, this share reached 87.71% which is the highest level in the last five years it has been reported by CMHC. For the newly originated mortgage loans this share edged up to 86.06%.

Compared to a year ago, 83.79% of mortgage holders and 83.56% of consumers without a mortgage either maintained or improved their credit scores. The average credit score increased to:

  • 765 for mortgage holders
  • 753 for non-mortgage holders

The average Bankruptcy Navigator Index is a ”predictive” score that estimates the likelihood of a consumer to become insolvent in the next 24 months. Higher scores indicate a lower risk. The score for both mortgage holders (938) and non-mortgage holders (923) reached the highest level over the past five years. This suggests a lower probability of bankruptcies. 

Non-mortgage outstanding balances declined

Total non-mortgage outstanding balances declined compared to Q4 2019. The most notable decline was for credit card outstanding balances:

  • 14.17% for mortgage holders
  • 13.76% for non-mortgage holders

This is followed by lines of credit outstanding balances, which decreased by:

  • 10.72% for mortgage holders
  • 10.14% for non-mortgage holders

Compared to the previous year, average monthly payment obligations declined for all non-mortgage loans with the exception of car loans. Monthly car loan payment obligations increased by:

  • 1.5% for mortgage holders
  • 1.3% for non-mortgage holders

Mortgages accounted for a larger share of consumer debt

Newly originated mortgages as a share of all mortgage loans edged up to 4.94% from 4.39% the year prior. New mortgage loans accounted for 6.93% of outstanding mortgage dollar balance compared to 5.73% in Q4 2019.

Mortgages with a higher loan amount ($400,000 and over) at time of origination as a share of all outstanding mortgages increased. In Q4 2020, these mortgage accounted for 41.42%, up from 37.98% the year prior.

Mortgage loans accounted for a higher share of total outstanding consumer credit balance, which increased to 68.91% from 66.85% a year ago.

Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant social and economic impacts in 2020 throughout Canada.  We have observed unprecedented declines in employment, and increased financial stress for households. The pandemic poses a major risk to housing and financial markets. CMHC continues to monitor the economic impacts associated with the severity and duration of COVID-19.

-CMHC