Rate Hike Will Affect a Large Number of Borrowers
The Mortgage Stress Test will be increasing as of June 1, 2021. Under the new requirements set by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI), uninsured mortgages will increase to a qualifying benchmark rate of 5.25%.
The Mortgage Stress Test Rollercoaster
If you were refinancing or purchasing last year, you probably noticed that the stress test decreased in 2020, to 4.79%, just 15 basis points above the record low of 4.64%. In finance, especially real estate, a bit of a rollercoaster is common. That said, the general consensus within the industry is that no one really expected to see such a drastic change in Canadian housing market conditions in a one-year time period.
Real Estate and financial speculators have been predicting everything from catastrophe to smooth sailing as more investors purchase luxury homes. Now experts say that increasing the mortgage stress test requirements for potentially riskier, uninsured mortgages can help to smooth the curve. They also say it can help rebalance supply and demand in the residential real estate market as well as overall economic conditions.
Why is the Mortgage Stress Test Increasing?
The OSFI hopes that imposing a higher mortgage stress test rate will help to cool down an overheated real estate market. Throughout the pandemic, supply and demand have become extremely unbalanced, with much less supply of residential homes than in past years. Those homes that are listed are often sold for well over asking, driving the average home prices higher and higher as a result.
According to stats from the Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB) In April 2021, median house prices in Greater Victoria increased to $996,500, up from $884,600 in April 2020.
“We’ve seen an imbalance in our market for quite a few months, says VREB President David Langlois. We continue to see huge pressure on single-family homes,” he adds. “New listings are snapped up as soon as they are listed.”
The good news is that the mortgage stress test increase will not be implemented across the board for all house hunters. Only those trying to qualify for an uninsured mortgage will be subjected to the new, higher mortgage qualification rate as of June 1, 2021.
What is an Uninsured Mortgage?
Canada has three default mortgage insurers, CMHC, Sagen (previously Genworth) and Canada Guaranty. Bank of Canada guidelines dictate that these insurers can not insure specific types of mortgages.
- Refinanced mortgages – Increasing the existing mortgage for access to additional funds is called refinancing. Mortgages are often refinanced when the homeowners want to renovate, access the equity in their mortgage to pay for schooling, a secondary property or finance a small business. Of course, the rules and regulations vary per borrower and lender, the type of mortgage, the amortization period and more.
- Purchases with a 20% or higher down payment, on 30-year amortizations (terms)
- Purchases of $1,000,000 or higher, with any amortization period
- Purchases of a rental / income property
What Does this Mortgage Stress Test Rate Increase Mean for Homeowners?
The stress test rate increases will make it more difficult to refinance, since homeowners who wish to increase their mortgage loan must be able to qualify with these new, higher interest rates. It could also mean the difference between finally being able to purchase your first home or needing to wait a little while longer until you can meet the new 5.25% requirement.
Also, because uninsured mortgages account for approximately 70-75% of all mortgages issued by Canadian Financial Institutions (CFI), a huge chunk of mortgage applications will potentially be rejected due to their higher financial risk to lenders.
For example, after the changes take place on June 1, your mortgage qualification of x amount will decrease. A $400,000 mortgage qualification will slip down $15,000 to $385,000. The higher the home price reaches, the larger the difference. That $15,000 difference in the $400,000 mortgage can mean the difference between lenders being able to provide the loan or not. It could also mean the difference between the homeowner being able to refinance their existing home or purchase an income property, which for many, can be a great way to increase their investment portfolio.
The Mortgage Stress Test Increase Will Not Affect Everyone
Rest assured, the increase won’t affect first-time homebuyers with less than 20% down, since their mortgages will be insured (usually with CMHC). It also won’t affect buyers who put more than 20% down AND who amortize over 25 years. The maximum mortgage term will be 25 years for insured mortgages and 30 years for uninsured mortgages. Also, the stress test will stay at 4.79% for insured mortgages, preventing any additional mortgage debt.
The mortgage stress test increase is just around the corner. If you’ve been considering refinancing to access funds for the renovation you’ve been dreaming about, now is the perfect time. Give our team at D. Fritz Appraisals Inc. a call to book your residential appraisal. We’ll help you uncover the value in your home with our comprehensive and accurate evaluations. Whether you’re looking to buy, sell or refinance or just have an up to date appraisal for your records, our property value estimations can help you get ready for the next step in your real estate journey. Located on Royal Oak Ave in Victoria, BC, we’re open Monday to Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM. Give us a call at (250) 413-7319 or contact us via email.