On October 17th Canadians awoke to the news that the nation’s banking regulator (OSFI) has announced that they will in fact go ahead on Jan 1, 2018 with a stress test for all conventional mortgage borrowers (those with more than 20% down).
This new Stress test will require that home-buyers (and those refinancing existing homes) who do not require mortgage insurance because they have a down payment (or existing equity) of 20% or more, will have to prove they can continue to make payments if interest rates rise by 2.0%. In fact it even goes a little further than that. “THE MINIMUM QUALIFYING RATE FOR UNINSURED MORTGAGES TO BE THE GREATER OF THE FIVE-YEAR BANK OF CANADA BENCHMARK RATE (that rate today is 4.89%) OR THE CONTRACT RATE PLUS 2.0% ”
The impact on buyers will be a reduction in their maximum mortgage amount of at least 20% and as high as 25%.
So if you are currently considering the purchase of a home, it is important to know that a purchase that closes after Dec 31, 2017 will have to qualify under the new rules, unless (maybe, we’ll know soon) you have a firm contract and a signed mortgage commitment in hand prior to Dec 31. Barring your having that, the mortgage amount you now qualify for will not be the amount you qualify for on Jan 1, 2018.
As has happened with past rule changes we expect that there will be clarifications issued around these dates to ensure that banks will honour the mortgage commitments signed by buyers, borrowers who have a home under contract and have waived all conditions. If so then buyers with firm purchase contracts and signed mortgage commitments should be able to close those purchases after Jan 1 as planned.
As to new-builds, well the question there is “how far out will they be able to close those deals under the terms of the mortgage commitments they have signed”.
On that front, Jencor has access to new-build mortgage commitments for 12 months at 3.29% where the appraisal can be done prior to signing the mortgage commitment and removing the finance condition, with an inspection just before possession to confirm completion of the build only.
This is huge, as there is thereby no risk of a lower future value wreaking havoc with the financing at time of possession.
If you are a pre-qualified purchaser you should now call your Mortgage Advisor or Banker and find out what your new maximum purchase price is effective Jan 1, 2018.