Canada's banking watchdog sets tough mortgage rules - will this do more harm than good?

Ottawa plans to move forward with regulations that would make it tougher for Canadians to qualify for uninsured loans, affecting consumers with down payments of 20% or more.

The new stress test is the latest in a series of changes aimed at ensuring that Canadians can afford a home even in the event of an interest rate increase.

Today borrowers with 20% or more down can qualify for a mortgage at rates as low as 2.97%. In the next few months, that hurdle will jump to almost 5%.

The big question at the moment is whether credit unions, which are provincially regulated and don't fall under the federal restrictions will allow people to qualify at a lower rate.

Are these federal changes necessary or will they do more harm than good?  Will these changes result in a less competitive mortgage industry and disable some niche players in the residential market, like those who focus on the self-employed?

The number of borrowers who are in arrears in Canada, more than 90 days behind in their payments, is basically the same as it was in 2002. This group hasn't really grown at all over the years, including during the 2009 finanical crisis when the rate rose to 5% south of the border.

The real estate industry have been lobbying furiously for changes to the final guidelines, worried tougher borrowing conditions would squeeze more people out of the market. But the banking regulator thought differently.

How are these new rules going to affect buyers? To what degree will our home values decrease?  Your thoughts?


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