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According to the Royal Bank of Canada, new mortgage rules expected next year with lead borrowers into the arms of unregulated federal lenders. Beginning on January 1, 2018, Canadian homebuyers will be required to meet stricter guidelines if they hope to qualify for a mortgage with an Canadian mortgage lender.


The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Canada (OSFI) has now confirmed that as of January 1st, all borrower will have to qualify for a mortgage with interest rates 2 percent higher than the rates they are applying for. This applies to “all” borrowers, even if you have a 20 percent down payment.


This new rule will be enforced in hope of decreasing household risks as interest rates continue to rise, especially for households with a high level of debt. In the long-term, risks will be reduces as a result. However, in the short-term, these rules will definitely rock the market, because most people don’t have insured mortgages, including nearly half of bank mortgages.


It’s hard at this point to predict the impact on the housing marketing, as the impact is really dependant on how many borrowers switch to unregulated federal lenders, that are exempt from this new rule. This include lenders such as credit unions and Caisses Populaires.


Until the end of 2017, RBC does expect there to be a rush of homebuyer activity, as homebuyers attempt to qualify for mortgages before these new rules take effect. After, it takes effect, RBC also anticipates that the rush in traffic will die down with minimal impact on the Canadian housing market.


According to a study released by the Fraser Institute, loan prices will increase and less people will be eligible to qualify for mortgages, resulting in doing more harm than good.


With this rule, also comes a requirement for a “stress test” which all borrowers must complete to ensure they could remain undamaged or unaffected by the higher interest rates. Only insured buyers with less than 20 percent down were tested previously, however now all borrowers will be tested. The stress test is meant to ensure that borrowers would be able to pay their loans if interest rates become higher.


Basically the test will simulate the financial situation of a borrower, assuming they’d pay back their loan at the posted average, instead of the negotiated. Borrowers will be tested at 2 percent higher than their actual mortgage rates or at the 5-year average posted mortgage rate. It all depends on whichever is higher.


If your mortgage is up for renewal in 2018, stick with your existing lender. Then there is no need to worry as you will not have to undergo stress testing, as these new rules would not apply to you.


The new rules will now also require that lenders be more critical in observing and examining loan-to-value (LTV) ratios of the loans they approve. This requirement will be in place to ensure that mortgage loans aren’t higher than LTV of the home itself.