“I wonder if this amount is based on the snapshot reporting collected by Equifax? For those of us that always pay our credit card balances in full every month, the balances reported on our credit report are inaccurate as it shows the balance on the day reported,” James Robinson of the Mortgage Centre wrote on MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “The result could be a significant overstating of debt levels in Canada. I do not use a credit card as a debt facility, but simply a way to keep my money in my possession a little longer.”
Stephen Poloz’ statement Wednesday that the interest rate will stay at 1 per cent also raised concern about the level of household debt. New figures from Equifax show a $1.5 trillion debt burden for Canada’s households, with the debt load rising 7.4 per cent in the three months to the end of September compared with a year before. That works out at an average debt of $20,891 per person excluding mortgages.
However, unlike the BoC, the credit agency says that it is not concerned about the levels as consumers are controlling their debt well. Of the $1.5 trillion owed two thirds is mortgage debt, totalling $985.1 billion.
Meanwhile, brokers question whether mortgage debt should be reported to Equifax.
“Except for the dreaded … collateral mortgages and HELOC mortgage information shouldn't be reported to Equifax,” Toronto-based Omer Quenneville wrote. “How would they know two thirds of household debt is mortgage?”
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Brokers are questioning Equifax’s debt estimations, following an announcement that it believes Canadian household debt comprises two thirds home loans.