On February 18, Minister of Finance Bill Morneau announced changes to the benchmark rate used to determine the minimum qualifying rate for insured mortgages, also known as the stress test. The new minimum qualifying rate will be the weekly median five-year fixed insured mortgage rate from mortgage insurance applications, plus two percentage points.
TRREB has long called for adjustments to the mortgage stress test since its introduction in January 2018. The changes will come into effect on April 6 and will allow the rate to be more representative of the mortgage rates offered by lenders and will adjust appropriately to dynamic market conditions.
TRREB is encouraged that Minister Morneau and the federal government are moving in the right direction by making adjustments to Guideline B-20.
When a borrower has less than a 20% down payment, lenders are required to obtain government-backed mortgage insurance. The mortgages must comply with the insured mortgage rules set by the Minister of Finance, including the insured minimum qualifying rate.
When the borrower has a down payment of 20%, or more, of the sale price, insurance is not required. The minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages is set by OSFI, the independent banking regulator.
To help more Canadians access affordable housing that meets their needs, the Government of Canada launched the National Housing Strategy—a 10-year, $55+ billion plan that will build 125,000 new affordable housing units, repair 300,000 others, and reduce chronic homelessness by 50%.
In Budget 2019, the federal government took concrete steps to make homeownership more affordable for first-time buyers by implementing a First-Time Home Buyer Incentive and increasing the Registered Retirement Savings Plan withdrawal limit to $35,000 to buy a home.