Various levels of government, as well as some corporations, have responded to the Covid-19 crisis by creating ways to support people financially. Here is a fantastic resource page to tell you WHAT is available, and HOW to access it!
Stress test has been a challenge for Canadians over the last few years. Especially our first time buyers. Glad to see one of MY lenders helping the cause in the right direction. Check out this blog from my colleague Dr Sherry Cooper
TD Lowers Qualifying Mortgage Rate 35 bps To 4.99%
Canadian Qualifying Mortgage Rate Lowered to 4.99%
Market interest rates have fallen sharply since the coronavirus-led investor flight to the safety of government bonds. The 5-year government bond yield–a harbinger of conventional mortgage rates–now stands at 1.34%, down sharply from the 1.60+% range it was trading in before the virus became global news (see chart below).
This morning, one of the Big-Six banks finally reacted. TD cut its posted 5-year fixed rate to 4.99%. TD’s posted rate had previously been at 5.34%, making this a 36 basis point cut. Other banks had lowered their qualifying rate to 5.19% last July, leading the Bank of Canada to cut its 5-year conventional mortgage rate to 5.19%. This is the qualifying rate under the B-20 rule introduced on January 1, 2018.
Even the regulators have been questioning the efficacy and fairness of using the big-bank posted rate as a qualifying rate for mortgage stress testing.
On January 24, the Assistant Superintendent of OSFI’s Regulation Sector, Ben Gully, gave a speech at the C.D. Howe Institute suggesting that the B-20 qualifying mortgage rate historically would be no more than 200 basis points above contract rates. He said that OSFI chose the “best available rate at the time.”
He went on to say that for many years, the difference between the benchmark rate and the average contract rate was 200 bps. However, this gap “has been widening more recently, suggesting that the benchmark is less responsive to market changes than when it was first proposed. We are reviewing this aspect of our qualifying rate, as the posted rate is not playing the role that we intended. As always, we will share our results with our federal partners. This will help to inform the advice OSFI might provide to the Minister, as requested in the mandate letter to him.”
By keeping posted rates too high, the Big-Six banks have inflated the qualifying rate, making it more difficult than necessary to pass the stress test to get a mortgage.
While TD’s rate cut is welcome news, its posted rate is still too high by historical standards. Given today’s average contract rates, the posted rate should be at least 20 bps lower still.
Banks have a strong incentive to inflate their posted mortgage rate. For one thing, they are the basis for the calculation of big-bank mortgage penalties. Also, they are the minimum qualifying rate.
The posted rate does not appropriately reflect the state of the mortgage market as few borrowers would pay this rate. Interestingly, banks often move this rate in lock-step, or close to it, reflecting their dominant oligopolistic position in the marketplace.
If a couple of the other big banks follow TD’s lead, the Bank of Canada benchmark rate will be below 5% for the first time since January 2018 when the new B-20 rules were adopted. Lowering the stress test rate by 20 bps from 5.19% to 4.99% would require roughly 1.8% less income to qualify for a mortgage on the average Canadian home price (assuming a 20% downpayment), increasing buying power by 2%. This doesn’t sound like much, but it can have a meaningful psychological impact on already improving housing markets. The latest CREA data shows that the national average home price surged 9.6% year-over-year in December. A lower stress test rate would make a busy spring housing market even more active.
Interest Rates Plunge on Coronavirus News; BoC Buys 10-year CMBs; FTHBI Plan Flops
Canadian 5-year Yield Fell To Lowest Level Since October
Global investors are selling stocks and piling into the safety of bonds in response to fears that the Wuhan coronavirus could disrupt global economic activity. Gold prices, another haven, have also risen. The Government of Canada 5-year bond yield traded this morning at roughly 1.35%, well below its nearly 1.70% level one month ago. The 5-year yield leads fixed mortgage rates, so if this trend persists, we might see widely available fixed-5-year rates in the 2.50% range once again in February.
Bank of Canada Now Buying 10-year CMBs
The Bank of Canada announced yesterday that effective immediately, the Bank will expand the Canada Mortgage-Backed securities (CMBs, which are government-guaranteed) it can purchase in the primary market to include 10-year fixed-rate bond issues. In 2018, The Bank expanded the assets it acquires to 5-year fixed and floating CMBs. The Bank held $517 million of these 5-year CMBs as of November 30, 2019.
This move by the BoC should improve liquidity, reducing yields on 10-year CMBs, possibly lowering 10-year fixed rates for mortgage borrowers. Governor Poloz supports efforts to extend the duration of mortgages.
First-Time Homebuyers Incentive Plan Flops
Only about 3,000 applicants were approved for the Liberals’ First-Time Home Buyer Incentive (FTHBI) in 2019. That’s just $55 million in funding, a less-than-stellar start given its $1.25-billion three-year target. (This information is according to attendees at the TD Securities’ Financial Services Conference where CMHC made comments.)
How to Verify Your Down Payment When Buying a Home
Saving for a down payment is one of the biggest challenges facing people wanting to buy their first home.
To fulfill the conditions of your mortgage approval, it’s all about what you can prove (hard to believe – but some people have lied in the past – horrors!).
Documentation of down payment is required by all lenders to protect against fraud and to prove that you are not borrowing your down payment, which changes your lending ratios and potential your mortgage approval.
DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED BY THE LENDER TO VERIFY YOUR DOWN PAYMENT
This is a government anti-money laundering requirement and protects the lender against fraud.
1. Personal Savings/Investments: Your lender needs to see a minimum of 3 months’ history of where the money for your down payment is coming from including your: savings, Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) or investment money.
- Regularly deposit all your cash in the bank, don’t squirrel your money away at home. Lenders don’t like to hear that you’ve just deposited $10,000 cash that has been sitting under your mattress. Your bank statements will need to clearly show your name and your account number.
- Any large deposits outside of “normal” will need to be explained (i.e. tax return, bonus from work, sale of a large ticket item). If you have transferred money from once account to another you will need to show a record of the money leaving one account and arriving in the other. Lenders want to see a paper trail of where your down payment is coming from and how it got into your account.
2. Gifted Down Payment: In some expensive real estate markets like Metro Vancouver & Toronto, the bank of Mom & Dad help 20% of first time home buyers. You can use these gifted funds for your down payment if you have a signed gift letter from your family member that states the down payment is a true gift and no repayment is required.
- Gifted down payments are only acceptable from immediate family members: parents, grandparents & siblings.
- Be prepared to show the gifted funds have been deposited in your account 15 days prior to closing. The lender may want to see a transaction record. i.e. $30,000 from Bank of Mom & Dad’s account transferred to yours and a record of the $30,000 landing in your account. Bank documents will need to show the account number and names for the giver and receiver of the funds. Contact me for a sample gift letter.
3. Using your RRSP: If you’re a First Time Home Buyer, you may qualify to use up to $35,000 from your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) for your down payment.
- Home Buyers Plan (HBP): Qualifying home buyers can withdraw up to $35,000 from their RRSPs to assist with the purchase of a home. The funds are not required to be used only for the down payment, but for other purposes to assist in the purchase of a home.
- If you buy a qualifying home together with your spouse or other individuals, each of you can withdraw up to $35,000.
- You must repay all withdrawals to your RRSP’s 15 years. Generally, you will have to repay an amount to your RRSP each year until you have repaid the entire amount you withdrew. If you do not repay the amount due for a year (i.e. $35,000/15 years = $2,333.33 per year), it will be added to your income for that year.
- Verifying your down payment from your RRSP, you will need to prove the funds show a 3-month RRSP history via your account statements which need to include your name and account number. Funds must be sitting in your account for 90 days to use them for HBP.
4. Proceeds from Selling Your Existing Home: If your down payment is coming from the proceeds of selling your currently home, then you will need to show your lender an accepted offer of Purchase and Sale (with all subjects removed) between you and the buyer of your current home.
- If you have an existing mortgage on your current home, you will need to provide an up-to-date mortgage statement.
5. Money from Outside Canada: Using funds from outside of Canada is acceptable, but you need to have the money on deposit in a Canadian financial institution at least 30 days before your closing date. Most lenders will also want to see that you have enough funds to cover Property Transfer Tax (in BC) PLUS 1.5% of the purchase price available in your account to cover your closing costs (i.e. legal, appraisal, home inspection, taxes, etc.).
- Property Transfer Tax (PTT) All buyers pay Property Transfer Tax (except first-time buyers purchasing under $500,000 and New Builds under $750,000). This is a cash expense, in addition to your down payment.
Property Transfer Tax (PTT) cannot be financed into the mortgage
Buying a home for the first time can be stressful, therefore being prepared with the right documentation for your down payment and closing costs can make the process much easier.
Mortgages are complicated, but they don’t have to be. Contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional near you.