28 Mar

Nuts and Bolts of the Federal 2019 Budget / What you Really Need to Know


Posted by: Tina Card

On March 19, the Federal Government announced the official 2019 budget.  One major topic on the discussion table (and one we were all holding our breath for) was the discussion of affordable housing in Canada.  So just what happened on “Budget Day”?  Here are the highlights of the 2019 Budget:

CMHC First Time Home Buyers Incentive Plan

-This would give first time home buyers the ability to share the cost of buying a home with CMHC
-For existing homes – the incentive would provide up to 5% (funding/equity sharing) of the PURCHASE PRICE
-For newly constructed homes the incentive would provide up to 10% (funding/equity sharing) of the PURCHASE PRICE
-Funding/Equity sharing means that CMHC would cover a percentage of the purchase price.

We are awaiting clear details of how repayment would take place.


  • 400K purchase price, 5% down payment (20K), AND 5% CHMC shared equity mortgage (20K), the size of the insured mortgage would be reduced from 380K down to 360K, which would lower the monthly payment amount for the first time home buyer

To qualify for the program:

  • 120K max household income
  • Cannot borrow more than 4x their annual household income – making max purchase price approx. 505K
  • 100k household income would mean max 400K mortgage in order to use this program.

Also, mortgage applicants under this plan still have to qualify under the federal stress test, which ensures that borrowers will be able to keep up with the payments even if interest rates rise by roughly two full percentage. The incentive, however, would lower the bar for test takers, as applicants would have to qualify for a lower mortgage.

The predicted start time is Fall 2019 for these guidelines.

Home Buyers Plan RRSP Increase

An increase of the previous $25,000 for RRSP withdrawal amount through the Home Buyers Plan to $35,000

These were the two mortgage related key changes that came out of the Federal Budget.

by Geoff Lee

28 Mar

OFSI Facing Growing Pressure to Tweak Stress Test


Posted by: Tina Card

Canada’s financial regulator is facing growing pressure to tweak its mortgage stress test, and no longer just from the mortgage industry.

On Monday, Calgary city councillor George Chahal filed a motion asking for the mayor to call on the federal government to amend the stress test implemented by OSFI (the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions) on January 1, 2018.

Chahal argues the stress test is designed for the Greater Vancouver and Toronto markets, where prices have soared in recent years, and that slower-growth cities, such as Calgary right now, are suffering the wide-ranging consequences. One of those, which he addressed in his motion, is that many borrowers who don’t pass the stress test are being forced to turn to private, unregulated lenders that typically charge higher rates.

“I think we need to have a made-in-Alberta solution based on local economic indicators and which reflects the needs of Calgary and our local economy,” he told The Calgary Star.

Alberta Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney also spoke out against the stress test last week, vowing to fight it should he be elected premier.

“If you elect a United Conservative government, we are going to go to bat for [those]…who are being pushed away from home ownership because of the prejudicial, regional, unfair stress test imposed by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.,” he said in a speech to Calgary real estate agents.

In January, Mortgage Professionals Canada released its annual report, which addressed the negative effects of the stress test and reiterated calls for changes. Key among them being that any stress test be based on a “relevant” interest rate and factor in income growth and principal repayment; stop subjecting renewals to the stress test; and making it easier for borrowers at alternative lenders to transfer to more liquid and lower-cost lenders.

Canada’s big banks too, which at one time welcomed the stress test, are now voicing their own concerns in the face of a 17-year low in mortgage growth.

“The damage caused by the central bank’s premature bullishness was reversed quickly [with a pause in interest hikes]. What hasn’t been reversed yet is the damage to the housing market due to OSFI’s B-20 rules,” CIBC Deputy Chief Economist Benjamin Tal wrote in a research note, adding that he does not view the introduction of the 200-bps stress test as an error. “Some Canadians needed to be saved from themselves. But given where we are in the cycle, and with policy rates up by 75 basis points since the introduction of the new measures, is 200 basis points still the right number? Not taking a position here… just asking.”

In an interview with the Huffington Post, he added: “It’s not something that has to be set in stone. It should be more dynamic,” he said of any stress test. “You have to assess the damage to the housing market, whether that damage is too severe, and what other forces in the market are leading to slower growth.”

OSFI Not Expected to Cave to Pressure…Yet

Despite the increasing pressure to tweak the stress test, OSFI has no plans to make any modifications just yet, according to sources cited by Reuters.

That was more or less confirmed by Carolyn Rogers, Assistant Superintendent of OSFI, during a speech Tuesday.

“OSFI monitors the environment on a continual basis and when we determine that adjustments to our standards and guidelines are warranted, we make them,” she said.

She noted that the stress tests were introduced due to a “shift in risks” in the financial system and that the situation can continue to change.

“Should that margin of safety be monitored, and should changes be considered if conditions in the environment change? Of course they should,” she said.

Ron Butler of Butler Mortgage told CMT that as the real estate “apocalypse” continues in Vancouver, those in government and the mortgage industry are justifiably worried.

“Banks are here to make money for shareholders, and if they see something adversely affecting that goal, such as a slowdown in lending, they will definitely have an opinion,” he said.

Butler notes that he sees both sides of the stress test argument, saying he sees the human toll it takes on those caught in the middle, but also the need for it given that “soaring real estate prices pose a certain degree of danger to our economy and society.”

He argues that any modification should do away with requiring mortgage renewals at a new lender to be subject to the stress test. “Applying the stress test to consumers seeking to get a better deal at the point of renewal of their mortgage is ridiculous,” he said. “If a family is prevented from shopping for the best interest rate at the point of renewal when their incumbent lender is not required to use the test, then it is an anti-consumer policy that enriches the incumbent lender and harms the consumer.”

By: Steve Huebl

28 Mar

What is the Difference between a Mortgage Broker and a Mortgage Specialist


Posted by: Tina Card

With the importance of real estate in Canada, it is vital to understand how the various professionals in the sector operate when buying a home.

Sooooooo… what is the difference between a Mortgage Specialist & a Mortgage Broker? At the surface, they sound the same
• They both arrange mortgages
• They both can offer advice and help you select a mortgage, right?

WRONG!!! There are many differences… Let’s check some of them out!

• A Mortgage Broker works for you! Their role is to act as a link between you and the lenders so that you do not have to spend your valuable time learning about mortgages and shopping around for the perfect mortgage. Mortgage brokers do the legwork and negotiate on your behalf for lenders. They are your point of contact for everything related to your financing your home.
o Bank specialists are employed and paid by the bank and work on the bank’s behalf.

• A Mortgage Broker can work with many different lenders across Canada, rather than working for one financial institution. Therefore, Mortgage Brokers can offer you more choices with competitive rates and terms including; Big banks, Credit Unions, Trust Companies, Monoline Lenders (broker only banks) and private lenders.
o Usually, Mortgage Specialists only have access to their lender’s products. In a typical situation, homeowners could end up with a higher interest rate than other institutions. This occurs because the homeowner must negotiate for themselves and Mortgage Specialists are usually paid according to the rate they sell you.

• A Broker must successfully complete a Provincially regulated Mortgage Broker course and exam. They continue to maintain their good status to keep that license by taking professional development education courses.
o Bank specialists are not licensed and require no formal training. There are no standards for educational requirements (although most Lenders do provide some in-house training).

• Because Mortgage Brokers don’t work for a specific lender, you get impartial advice about a variety of lenders
o A bank specialist can only offer their own institutions products, good or bad.
o Specialists don’t have access to other lenders, so they won’t recommend another lender’s product offerings.

• Mortgage Brokers use their knowledge and experience to negotiate the best possible terms and rates for you from a variety of lenders, based on the best fit for your situation.
o When you see a bank specialist, the mortgage negotiating is typically left up to you.
o Will the bank specialist negotiate on your behalf or the banks?

• For conventional financing, the services of a mortgage broker are generally FREE to you. If there is a cost, you will be advised of those costs up front. Brokers get a finder’s fee from the lender once they place your mortgage. Therefore, brokers are motivated to get the best terms and rates for their clients.
o Bank specialists are paid by the bank
o Some banks offer bonuses if the specialist gets their client to pay higher interest rates or sign up for other bank services.

• Mortgage Brokers work on a referral basis and are self-employed. Most of their business is done through word of mouth referrals, therefore a Mortgage Broker is motivated to ensure their clients are extremely happy and satisfied to keep their business growing.

o A bank specialist is generally an employee of the bank, generating business through the bank’s existing customers.

• Most Mortgage Brokers are available for appointments outside banking hours (nights, weekends) at their client’s convenience.
o Bank specialists are generally only available during regular banking hours.

• Mortgage Brokers are focused on your mortgage
o Specialists are trained and rewarded on cross selling. Some will push you to consolidate all your banking services with them when getting a mortgage (credit cards, insurance, RRSP, lines of credit, etc.)

Would you ask Tim Hortons who makes the best coffee and expect them to say Starbucks? Not likely…  So why would you ask a Mortgage Specialist who works for a bank, to tell you which Lender has the best mortgage product for your situation.  (article by Kelly Hudson)

28 Mar

Mortgage Qualifying Solutions


Posted by: Tina Card

Many people are having trouble getting the mortgage they want these days. Working with a Licensed Mortgage Advisor offers you not only access to a variety of products, but also a variety of experience-based solutions.

Here are a couple strategies we have used to get home buyers qualified, who have had difficulty elsewhere:


Take out an RRSP loan with a lender who has the right guidelines.  The client utilizes a payment on the RRSP loan that fits into their long-term debt service ratios to qualify for a house. After 90 days the clients use the Home Buyers plan to withdraw the down payment. The useful part of our scenario is that our lender does not require the loan to be paid off to use the RRSP money for the down payment. Most RRSP lenders will demand that the withdrawn funds are used to pay the balance of the RRSP loan off in full.  If they qualify, ( in RRSP room and GDS / TDS ratios,)  up to $25,000 in down payment could be available.


We have a bank lender who rewrites car loans with a longer term creating a lower monthly payment.  Lower car payments can lead to a higher mortgage. Recently, we had clients with a newer vehicle with a large payment. With the new lower payment that we organized, the clients then were able to obtain a $70,000 higher mortgage. They were very happy that they were now able to purchase the house they really wanted NOT the house that the bank said they should be purchasing.

If you think you can benefit from these strategies or would like to know about other solutions, please give me a call.