New quarterly financials from CMHC are confirming the fears of many brokers, worried the government’s latest mortgage rule changes effectively signalled its exit from the refinance business, now down 40 per cent and expected to stay there.
“It’s a repeat of what we saw when the government increased the down payment requirements for CMHC insurance on rental properties,” Curtis Cannon, a sub-mortgage broker with TMG The Mortgage Group in Prince George, B.C. “By decreasing its maximum loan-to-value to 85 per cent from 90 per cent, the government is basically saying, ‘We’re out of the refinance business.’ That’s regrettable because CMHC seems to have forgotten what they’re there for – to put and help keep Canadians in their homes.”
This week the Crown corporation announced that its insurance activity for refis fell 40 per cent for the quarter ended June 30, compared to “pre-implementation levels.” Moreover, the report adds, that activity has “continued to remain around this level.”
That translates into bad news for broker clients, who through no fault of their own, need to pull equity out of their homes in order to cover debts racked up by a death in the family, divorce and/or illness, said Cannon, concerned the government has abdicated its responsibility to aid those Canadians in its move to keep consumers from “using their homes like an ATM.”
“I don’t think that the new refi rules are good, at least not across the board in that the difference between accessing a LTV of 85 instead of 90 per cent may force someone who is in a tough situation out of their home,” said Cannon.
His comments run counter to those of other brokers who embraced the rule changes around refinancing as a way to put an end to “habitual refinancers.”
“Among our team of six brokers, we’re seeing about three to four clients a month who we would identify as habitual refinancers – meaning they typically have refinanced their credit card debt back into their mortgages every two years,” Bob Smith, broker/owner for Verico K-W Mortgage, told MortgageBrokerNews.ca, shortly after the amendments. “But what we’re seeing now is that those clients are now finding that they can no longer do that.”