CMHC’s New Underwriting Criteria: What Changed and What it Means for Home Buyers

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has implemented new underwriting criteria (eligibility requirements) to apply for homeowner transactional and portfolio mortgage insurance. Introduced earlier this summer, these new adjustments from CMHC come as a precaution while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact consumers in the real estate market and many other aspects of day-to-day life.

The following changes have been made:

  • The maximum Gross Debt Service (GDS) ratio is now 35% with no exceptions (previously, 39% GDS ratios could be approved under special circumstances).
  • The maximum Total Debt Service (TDS) ratio is now 42% with no exceptions (previously, 44% TDS ratios could be approved under special circumstances).
  • The minimum credit score required for at least one borrower is now 680 (previously 600).
  • Non-traditional sources for down payments that increase indebtedness will no longer be treated as equity for insurance purposes.

However, not all Canadian mortgage insurers have followed suit. Canada’s other two mortgage insurers, Genworth Canada and Canada Guaranty, announced earlier this summer they would not be following CMHC’s lead.

In a statement at the time, Genworth confirmed, “it has no plans to change its underwriting policy related to debt service ratio limits, minimum credit score and down payment requirements.”

Canada Guaranty echoed this sentiment saying it “confirms that no changes to underwriting policy are contemplated as a result of recent industry announcements.”


How is mortgage insurance affected?

Mortgage insurance protects lenders in the event homeowners default on their mortgage. Home buyers purchasing a home with a down payment of less than 20% must have mortgage insurance. The following underwriting criteria are the main figures taken into consideration for mortgage insurance applications:

  • GDS ratio: GDS ratio is the percentage of a buyer’s gross monthly income used for mortgage payments, taxes and heating costs and—if they are buying a condo—half of the monthly maintenance fees. A GDS calculator is available here.
  • TDS ratio: TDS ratio is the percentage of gross monthly income required to cover monthly housing costs, plus all of a buyer’s other debt payments, such as car loans or leases, credit card payments, and lines of credit payments. A TDS calculator is available here.
  • Credit score: credit score ranges from 300 to 900 and is determined from a person’s credit report. A higher number means a person’s credit is managed responsibly. Various factors are taken into consideration to calculate credit scores. TransUnion and Equifax are Canada’s two main credit bureaus. You may also find your credit score through a private provider or your financial institution.

For more information, consult our affordability calculator, the Home Buyers’ Road Map or contact your REALTOR®.


How does this all affect me?

While CMHC has made these slightly stricter underwriting restrictions as a precaution for the economic impact COVID-19 has had on the housing market, current trends are showing a promising rebound. Canadian home sales and prices have trended upwards through MayJune and July following an initial decline in March and April, although on a year-to-date basis we remain below 2019 figures.

The Canadian housing market will see the financial and economic impact of COVID-19 unfold for months to come, and each province and territory’s recovery plan varies. To stay in the know of how the market is evolving, visit CREA.ca for monthly housing market statistics reports or create a REALTOR.ca account for the latest information on the housing market and tips for your home. 


Source: REALTOR.ca


Link to article: 

https://www.realtor.ca/blog/postpage/14526/3195/cmhc%E2%80%99s-new-underwriting-criteria-what-changed-and-what-it-means-for-home-buyers

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September 2, 2020

Home sale and listing activity continues to increase in August


Home buyers and sellers remained active across Metro Vancouver in August, with home sale and new listing activity outpacing the region’s historical averages.


The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential home sales in the region totalled 3,047 in August 2020, a 36.6 per cent increase from the 2,231 sales recorded in August 2019, and a 2.6 per cent decrease from the 3,128 homes sold in July 2020.


Last month’s sales were 19.9 per cent above the 10-year August sales average.


“People who put their home buying and selling plans on hold in the spring have been returning to the market throughout the summer,” Colette Gerber, REBGV Chair said. “Like everything else in our lives these days, the uncertainty COVID-19 presents makes it challenging to predict what will happen this fall.”


There were 5,813 detached, attached and apartment properties newly listed for sale on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in Metro Vancouver in August 2020. This represents a 55.1 per cent increase compared to the 3,747 homes listed in August 2019 and a 2.3 per cent decrease compared to July 2020 when 5,948 homes were listed.


This was 34.8 per cent above the 10-year August new listings average.


The total number of homes currently listed for sale on the MLS® system in Metro Vancouver is 12,803, a 4.4 per cent decrease compared to August 2019 (13,396) and a six per cent increase compared to July 2020 (12,083).


For all property types, the sales-to-active listings ratio for August 2020 is 23.8 per cent. By property type, the ratio is 23.7 per cent for detached homes, 30.5 per cent for townhomes, and 21.6 per cent for apartments.


Generally, analysts say downward pressure on home prices occurs when the ratio dips below 12 per cent for a sustained period, while home prices often experience upward pressure when it surpasses 20 per cent over several months.


“Low interest rates and limited overall supply of homes for sale are creating competition in today’s housing market,” Gerber said. “Your local REALTOR® can help you navigate today’s market and ensure that the latest public health requirements are followed at every step of the process. Above all, safety has to remain our top priority during this pandemic.”


The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $1,038,700. This represents a 5.3 per cent increase over August 2019 and a 0.7 per cent increase compared to July 2020.


Sales of detached homes in August 2020 reached 1,095, a 55.1 per cent increase from the 706 detached sales recorded in August 2019. The benchmark price of a detached home is $1,491,300. This represents a 6.6 per cent increase from August 2019 and a one per cent increase compared to July 2020.


Sales of apartment homes reached 1,332 in August 2020, a 19.4 per cent increase compared to the 1,116 sales in August 2019. The benchmark price of an apartment property is $685,800. This represents a 4.5 per cent increase from August 2019 and a 0.5 per cent increase compared to July 2020.


Attached home sales in August 2020 totalled 620, a 51.6 per cent increase compared to the 409 sales in August 2019. The benchmark price of an attached home is $806,400. This represents a 4.4 per cent increase from August 2019 and a 1.1 per cent increase compared to July 2020.

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