Although the volume of news over the last month has been pretty tame in comparison to when COVID-19 initially hit, there has still been a lot going on. If you find yourself wondering about the current state of affairs as it relates to real estate, mortgage financing, and the recovery of our economy mid and post-pandemic, you’ve come to the right place!

Here is a quick recap, a look forward, and links to many good sources of information!

Questionable economic outlook. 

Back in the third week of May, the head of the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) made some pretty gloomy predictions. These Included a potential decrease in house prices of 18%, a jump in mortgage deferrals by 20% from 12% by September, and a debt-to-GDP ratio jump from 99% to 130% by Q3.

However, this particular economic outlook wasn’t widely accepted in the mortgage industry and was seen more as an absolute worst-case scenario. Despite this, CMHC went ahead and made changes to their underwriting guidelines and qualifying criteria for insured mortgages.

CMHC changes policy for insured mortgages. 

On June 4th, 2020, CMHC announced that they would be making changes to their underwriting qualification effective July 1st 2020.

Essentially, they have lowered the buying power of anyone looking for an insured mortgage by up to 10% by limiting the Gross/Total Debt Servicing (GDS/TDS) ratios to 35% and 42% respectively. They changed the credit score requirements to a minimum of 680 for at least one borrower. While they also removed non-traditional sources of down payment that increase indebtedness, (borrowed downpayment). A gifted downpayment from a family member is still acceptable.

Genworth and Canada Guaranty don’t plan on changing guidelines.

In response to CMHC’s changes, the other two mortgage insurers in Canada made announcements that they would not be changing their guidelines.

“Genworth Canada believes that its risk management framework, its dynamic underwriting policies and processes and its ongoing monitoring of conditions and market developments allow it to prudently adjudicate and manage its mortgage insurance exposure, including its exposure to this segment of borrowers with lower credit scores or higher debt service ratios,” said Stuart Levings, President and CEO.

“Canada Guaranty confirms that no changes to underwriting policy are contemplated as a result of recent industry announcements… Given implementation of the qualifying stress test and historic default patterns, Canada Guaranty does not anticipate borrower debt service ratios at time of origination to be a significant predictor of mortgage defaults.”

So although CMHC is taking a very pessimistic view towards our economic recovery and has made it harder to qualify for an insured mortgage going forward, Genworth and Canada Guaranty will be there to make sure more Canadians have access to insured mortgage products.

Economic Outlook from the Bank of Canada.

On June 22nd, Tiff Macklem, the new governor of the Bank of Canada, released his first public press release called Monetary Policy in the Context of COVID-19.

“Currently, we expect growth to resume in the third quarter. The economy will get an immediate boost as containment measures are lifted, people are called back to work, and households resume some of their normal activities. But it will be important not to assume that these growth rates will continue beyond the reopening phase. The pandemic is likely to inflict some lasting damage to demand and supply. The recovery will likely be prolonged and bumpy, with the potential for setbacks along the way.”

Conference Board of Canada.

In a sizeable release, the Conference Board of Canada shared their Canadian Outlook Summary: Summer 2020.

“With the worst of the recession likely over, the outlook for 2021 is brighter. The economy is forecast to rebound by 6.7 per cent in 2021 and 4.8 per cent in 2022. As the threat of the pandemic eases, how well the reopening of the economy and the withdrawal of government support is managed will be a crucial determinant of the economy’s trajectory over the next several years.”

Business as usual.

By all accounts, it’s business as usual amid this global pandemic. Although COVID-19 has impacted the number of houses being bought and sold, prices haven’t dropped. CMHC has made it harder to qualify for an insured mortgage through them, but you have two other insurers providing options, so it’s not a big deal.

If you’re looking to make a move or need to discuss mortgage financing, please don’t hesitate to contact me anytime. I would love to work with you!