CMHC Insurance Limits: A Wake-up Call for Lenders



CMHC-Portfolio-Insurance-and-LendersMany have now seen this National Post article.

The gist of it: CMHC is approaching its $600 billion government-imposed limit on issuing mortgage default insurance. That’s happening largely because of lenders’ enormous appetite for something called portfolio insurance (a.k.a., “bulk insurance”).

No one fully grasps the repercussions yet, but our sense is that the news is not great (at least in the short-to-medium term) for mortgage consumers, smaller lenders and brokers.

On the other hand, it may be healthy long-term for the housing market. Here’s why…

What is Portfolio Insurance?

Mortgage default insurance is typically only “required” when someone with less than 20% equity gets a mortgage.

Despite that, almost three-quarters of CMHC’s outstanding mortgage insurance is low-ratio (i.e., 20% equity or more). That’s largely because banks have been buying portfolio insurance in gobs to insure against defaults on low-risk conventional mortgages.

Banks do that because, even though the risk is low, there is still risk. Investors who buy these mortgages like to know that the government is behind them, if borrowers default and the lender can’t pay up. Because of regulatory capital rules, bulk insurance also enables banks to lend more with the precious capital they have.

CMHC summarizes portfolio insurance as follows:

“Portfolio insurance helps lenders manage their capital more efficiently and small lenders to compete on an equal footing with large lenders. It allows more lenders to compete in the mortgage loan insurance market by lowering entry barriers, thus expanding consumer choice.”

Note: Nothing is changing with high-ratio insured mortgages. So if you’re getting a mortgage with less than 20%, this news probably won’t impact you (for a while at least).

CMHC’s Insurance Limit

CMHCDespite the above benefits, we’re hearing that CMHC has announced it is slashing the amount of bulk insurance lenders can access. That’s because CMHC is limited by law to writing no more than $600 billion worth of policies.

Normally, every 3-5 years as the mortgage market grows, CMHC has asked for, and received, approval from parliament to raise this limit. It was last raised by $150 billion in 2008.

Now media frenzy has politicians scurrying to offload mortgage risk from the government back to the private sector. (The government guarantees CMHC’s liabilities, so public concern is certainly understandable.)

As a result, many question whether CMHC will get its $600 billion limit raised anytime soon.

Here’s some reaction on that:

  • TD Bank economist Sonya Gulati tells CBC that not increasing the limit “may serve to tighten the housing market.”
  • RBC economist Robert Hogue told Global News that increasing the limit “…would be, policywise, a very delicate balance to strike.”
  • The Post quoted an unnamed industry source as saying: “…What will the government do, not increase (CMHC’s) limit? This could kill the entire housing market.”

Who Uses Portfolio Insurance?

Portfolio insurance is widely relied on by many smaller lenders who must resell their mortgages (as opposed to fund them from deposits).

More commonly, portfolio insurance is used by the Big 6 Banks. That’s because insured mortgages have virtually a “zero-risk” weighting in regulators’ eyes, allowing banks to lend more, earn higher returns, and keep mortgage rates lower than otherwise possible.

(One fast-growing use of bulk insurance is for guaranteeing covered bonds. Covered bonds are a relatively new source of mortgage funding in Canada. More on that here.)

In any event, spokesperson, Charles Sauriol, says CMHC “has recently received an unexpected level of requests for large amounts of CMHC portfolio insurance.” That insurance is using up CMHC’s capacity.

(Incidentally, the biggest bulk insurance customer recently has been Scotiabank, which reportedly had an abnormally large and predominantly insured $17+ billion mortgage-backed securities issuance in December.)

The Risk of Portfolio Insurance

Risk-of-MortgagesPortfolio insurance can sell like hotcakes indefinitely, and there will never be a problem…unless the unthinkable happens: mass defaults.

The question then becomes: Are insurers taking in enough in premiums to offset potential claims—thus avoiding a federal bailout?

In exploring that question, it’s important to remember that there’s a relatively strong relationship between default risk and loan-to-value (LTV). In other words, the more equity a mortgagor has, the less likely they’ll stop making their payments.

That said, if housing were to crash, insurer claims on portfolio insurance would soar. The premiums they’ve collected from lenders are their first line of defense in that case (unlike high-ratio insurance, lenders usually pay the premiums on portfolio insurance themselves, not the borrower).

According to a very good source, however, there is a problem with these premiums. Major banks have negotiated the premiums down to levels that may not be enough to cover extreme conventional default rates.

(We haven’t found any current data on conventional mortgage default rates, but they’re ostensibly less than the 0.38% for overall arrears—a number which includes higher-risk, high-ratio mortgages.)

CMHC’s Wherewithal

CMHC has continually been accused, in the media, of creating undue risk for Canadian taxpayers. A few weeks ago, we spoke with Pierre Serré, Vice- President, CMHC Insurance Product and Business Development, to try and get a sense for that risk.

He stated: “…We focus on prudent underwriting practices and the adequacy of our capital levels. CMHC is well positioned through its available capital to handle even extremely adverse economic conditions.”

He noted that CMHC has a total of $17.4 billion that could be used to back-up its insurance business and pay claims.

CMHC’s actual losses on claims have been much lower. They were $454 million for the first nine months of 2011, for example. That coincides with a 0.42% default rate.

Capital-reservesCMHC has 38 times that $454 million in capital and reserves to cover adverse housing shocks. It can handle some pretty devastating housing scenarios, especially given that the average mortgage in its portfolio has equity of 45%.

Net of all claims and expenses, CMHC’s insurance business earned a total of $1.042 billion in Q1-Q3 2011. Moreover, contrary to many critics, CMHC’s core mortgage insurance business has never needed to be bailed out.

“…There has been no reimbursement of funds by the Government of Canada with respect to CMHC’s commercial mortgage insurance operations,” said Serré. “The losses CMHC experienced in the early 1980s (shortfalls totalling $555.6 million) were a result of costs under two specific government programs, the Assisted Homeownership Program (AHOP) and the Assisted Rental Program (ARP).”

“CMHC’s mandate for its mortgage insurance business was changed in 1997 to allow it to operate on a commercial basis without having to rely on the Government of Canada for support,” Serré said, “even in less favourable economic times.”

(If you’re interested, see page 99 of this report for CMHC’s estimates of losses given a 100 bps rate increase, adverse unemployment, or slowing home prices.)

In a bad-case scenario (e.g., severe prolonged unemployment or a dramatic spike in rates), you can darn well bet our housing market would get butchered. The harshest critics we’ve spoken with say you could take today’s average loss numbers and multiply them by 15-20.

Well, if you do that, it would be far beyond any insurance losses Canada has ever experienced. Yet, in that scenario, CMHC would still have billions in capital left over before asking for government handouts.

Potential Outcomes

Mortgage_questions-and-answersLooking forward, CMHC’s cutback on bulk insurance has numerous potential repercussions. No one has the answers yet because we’re still waiting to see how things shake out.

That said, here’s our best guess. Barring a CMHC announcement that it’s raising its portfolio insurance limits, then:

  1. Smaller lenders may be forced to pay more for conventional mortgage funding (for some period of time).
    • This could kill off rate competition from many non-bank lenders in the conventional mortgage market (Banks are probably licking their chops at this prospect.)
  2. Bank capital costs could potentially increase.
    • That would impact earnings and/or lift mortgage rates somewhat (to what extent we don’t know.)
  3. It would discourage new non-bank lenders from entering the market,
    • Resulting in less choice for mortgage shoppers.
  4. It would force lenders to find alternative, uninsured funding sources for conventional mortgages.
    • That’s largely a positive long-term—to the extent it would cut government exposure in the unlikely event of mass conventional mortgage defaults.
  5. It may kick-start the uninsured covered bond market.
    • Uninsured covered bonds transfer risk from the government to major financial institutions.
    • “…We believe there is a high probability that Canadian banks will not be permitted to use CMHC-insured mortgages” as collateral for future covered bond issuance, BMO Capital Markets analyst, George Lazarevski, told the Financial Post.
    • So far in Canada, only RBC has issued uninsured covered bonds. Those bonds are rated AAA and mostly consist of 5-year fixed mortgages with a typical LTV near 72%.
    • Unfortunately, most smaller lenders have almost no access to covered bond funding.
    • These developments may very well encourage the government to lift its current bank limit on covered bond issuance (which is 4% of bank assets). If the government doesn’t, and it continues to restrain bulk insurance, lenders tell us it could seriously harm conventional mortgage liquidity.
  6. Given their reduced access to portfolio insurance (and thus the reduced potential for low-ratio mortgage business), smaller lenders may now get even more choosy on which conventional borrowers they lend to.
    • This could limit conventional mortgage options somewhat, unless you were a top-qualified borrower
  7. Brokers may be increasingly forced to rely on banks for conventional financing.
    • It’s not unthinkable that banks respond with higher pricing on conventional mortgages, given the greater funding costs and demand from brokers.
    • Some industry observers doubt that banks would price quite as high in their retail channels (since they favour those channels).
  8. Private insurers may realize benefits from all this for a year or so, as lenders shut out by CMHC turn to Genworth and Canada Guaranty.
    • That could allow private insurers to charge more for bulk insurance
    • Pretty soon the privates themselves could run out of insurance space.

The End Result

Mortgage insurance is a business. By participating in that business, the government takes risk, but it gets paid well for that risk. The government of Canada has earned $14+ billion in profits over the last decade from CMHC alone.

But the past is the past. Today we’re facing new realities (not the least of which is a hyperactive housing market). We’re therefore compelled to ask:

  • Which is the bigger risk, limiting portfolio insurance or staying our present course?
  • Instead of curtailing bulk insurance, should underwriting criteria be tightened more?
  • Or should the government simply force insurers to boost premiums (or levy surcharges of some sort), thus padding insurers’ buffers in the event of adverse default scenarios?

These are questions that policymakers have been asking themselves in private for a while now.


Rob McLister, CMT

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Comments

  1. Comment avatar

    Ryan Kirwan    

    I’m going to take a wild guess and assume that out of the $454 million in claims, the majority were from fraudulent activities OR CMHC’s AVM shortfalls… what I would like to know is who gets the proceeds from the sales of these homes? What is the exact process that the insurers go through when there is a claim from a financial institution?
    I realize there are fees involved with selling the home, but conventionally (and without fraudulent or AVM mistakes) at an average 45% of equity in homes — how can they lose?!?!?
    I’m willing to bet anyone a coffee that CMHC will raise the limit again, as it is probably the governments most profitable division!!!!
    BTW, great in depth post again Rob!

     
  2. Comment avatar

    Appraiser    

    Outstanding article once again Rob.
    Thanks for clarifying the issue, as it seems to be totally misunderstood by the MSM and of course the doomers out there, who seize on any opportunity to slag CMHC.

     
  3. Comment avatar

    A.S    

    Big banks never lose so if their portfolio allocation can not be increase, they will use that as an excuse to increase the spread and past higher rates to consumers.
    Smaller lenders will suffer as they have a limited room to grow.

     
  4. Comment avatar

    cj    

    This is very interesting, this will really HURT brokers as the main CMHC backed lenders will be really affected (street capital, ICICI, Resmor Trust, etc).
    My guess is that CMHC will get the go ahead from the federal government to raise the 600B bar as the economy could be damaged and hurt our struggling GDP.

     
  5. Comment avatar

    Value Indexer    

    The average doesn’t matter. CMHC can’t go sell a senior’s house with 90% equity just to recover losses from a 5% down mortgage given to someone who’s about to be “priced out of the market” (due to endless government and bank support to inflate the market beyond reasonable limits).

     
  6. Comment avatar

    Canadian Watchdog    

    Did you come here in search of hope App? This is an income issue, not an affordability issue. The housing market is a blessing and a curse in either direction, so extending the game is irrelevant.
    Confidence is being destroyed as the headlines keep printing corporate job losses and calling for a housing bust. Good luck trying to stop that.

     
  7. Comment avatar

    Cmon Man    

    I don’t think that’s what he means Value Indexer. The Law of Averages tell us that sure, you may lose on a few homes, but with the average conventional insured home in Canada have 45% equity, in the long run, CMHC is WELL ahead of the game. Seems to me like a lot of worry about nothing.

     
  8. Comment avatar

    Darren    

    You must also remember that there is significant turn over in these funds… meaning money is “paid back” to the program and thus the level is always rising and falling.

     
  9. Comment avatar

    Canadian Watchdog    

    And how would you know Canadian homeowners have 45% equity? Because CMHC says so?
    Even if, average home equity (2006) in the US was 61% which has now fallen to 38%.
    But Canada is different from the world right?

     
  10. Comment avatar

    Ron Butler    

    Rob, once again a terrific, well researched article.
    The huge increase in the demand for portfolio insurance has only one reason: the use of covered bonds to fund mortgages at the big banks. Covered bonds that have CMHC portfolio insurance have become the cheapest form of funding (other than CMB) for the big banks to use; hence the huge run up in CMHC portfolio insurance.
    While the overall implication of losing the covered bonds funding source may prove to be higher mortgage rates in general; there could be a silver lining for mortgage brokers.
    The monolines have a set allocation of the CMB which may allow them to stay competitive since the CMB is the lowest cost funding source and the monolines can fund the bulk of their mortgages through CMB while the big 5 banks cannot.
    My understanding of the CMB is that the monoline allocation will not be cut back and portfolio insurance is always connected to the allocation.
    I think Rob made a great point that there is little political will to allow for an increase to CMHC $600 Billion limit.
    2012 continues to be a very unsettled year in the mortgage business and it is only a month old.

     
  11. Comment avatar

    Canadian Watchdog    

    I’m afraid the damage is already done as this announcement clearly indicates an imminent hike for a $600 billion limit increase. Without it, they will be bankrupt.
    “The Crown corporation would be going to the government looking for an increase in its limit at a time when both Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty have been casting a wary eye at the housing market.”
    Of course, this is the first step in opening a dialog until the real risk numbers start to unfold. There is absolutely no possible way CMHC can backstop a 10-15% correction on its insured portfolio when they only have, wait for it….. $12 billion in equity to cover $541-billion in insured mortgages (it’s actually more). This puts CMHC at a 25+:1 leverage ratio.
    What about the banks?
    “However, the banks have been seeking insurance on loans with even high downpayments — something not required by law — so they can securitize those bulk lending loans, thereby getting them off their balance sheets and reducing their capital requirements.”
    Banks are shorting the housing market and dumping their junk holdings ASAP. http://i44.tinypic.com/73h5af.jpg http://i40.tinypic.com/ri66gl.jpg Who would buy these bonds? i) any international sucker who is willing to pay for it. ii) The Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    You see, once the banks securitize and illegally transfer the titles of your mortgages into a mortgage backed security (regardless if you have title insurance), they then send it across the border (where no OSFI rules apply) to their US branch and either i) sell them on the international market, or if that fails, ii) engage in repo agreements with the NY Fed as primary dealers. http://www.newyorkfed.org/markets/pridealers_current.html
    So like Goldman Sachs and the boys, they dump their bad debt (junk), clear their books of impaired loans and then insure themselves with Credit Default Swaps (CDS) so they can profit when the market implodes.
    And that’s how Canadian banks remain the safest in the world…

     
  12. Comment avatar

    Richard    

    I guess regulations or lack of helped them doing that …
    And who creates laws and regulations ?

     
  13. Comment avatar

    Canadian Watchdog    

    OSFI just sent a letter to The Fed, Treasury, SEC and FDIC regarding bank ‘regulations’.
    Quote from OSFI:
    “In other words, OSFI would not wish to see US regulators taking actions that may enhance the stability of
    their financial system at the cost of undermining the stability of other systems around the world”
    Read full document here: http://www.osfi-bsif.gc.ca/osfi/index_e.aspx?ArticleID=4719
    This is what happens when banks engage in hyper-leveraged bets with hedge funds and private equity firms abroad.

     
  14. Comment avatar

    Ben Rabidoux    

    Great article once again, Rob!
    @CJ I agree that if it is taken to parliament, the cap will likely be lifted, though probably not without some sort of superficial tightening of mortgage rules. Let’s face it, media scrutiny of CMHC (whether warranted or not) is rising. Politically speaking, this is the easiest way for the Harper government to ‘save face’ and ‘protect taxpayers’ while simultaneously making sure the punch bowl is still full. 🙂

     
  15. Comment avatar

    Watchdog Watcher    

    Canadian Watchdud:
    Based on your statements you are in way over your head on this topic.
    “Without it, they will be bankrupt.” [Who will be bankrupt??]
    “they only have, wait for it….. $12 billion in equity” [Dead wrong. CMHC has $17.4 billion total, enough to cover almost 30 times its normal annual losses on claims.]
    “Banks are shorting the housing market and dumping their junk holdings ASAP.” [Wrong again. In order to get bulk insurance banks give insurers the pick of the litter of mortgages. Banks keep the rest.]
    “the banks securitize and illegally transfer the titles of your mortgages into a mortgage backed security” [Illegally? Can you say that with a straight face?]
    “And how would you know Canadian homeowners have 45% equity? Because CMHC says so?” [Yes, you’re right. Let’s discredit regulator audited statistics and believe you instead.]
    My advice is, quit while you’re behind.

     
  16. Comment avatar

    Keith    

    I don’t get your point. Each insurance policy stands on its own. 80% of homeowners have 20% or more equity. Those who don’t pay insurance premiums that are 3-4 times higher.

     
  17. Comment avatar

    Canadian Watchdog    

    [Who will be bankrupt??] CMHC, follow the bouncing ball.
    [Dead wrong. CMHC has $17.4 billion total, enough to cover almost 30 times its normal annual losses on claims.]
    I missed the update, so now it’s 24:1 leveraged. Still safe right?
    [Wrong again. In order to get bulk insurance banks give insurers the pick of the litter of mortgages. Banks keep the rest.]
    It’s irrelevant because the assumption that mortgage owners with more then 20% equity will not default is absurd. When people don’t have jobs, they can’t make payments, this accounts for professionals like we seen in the US. Do some reading on recent mass job cuts across the board and keep in mind that in a 70% home ownership rate, the likelihood of these folks having a mortgage is high.
    [Illegally? Can you say that with a straight face?]
    You’ll see what the Canadian version of MERS is once the cards start to unfold.
    [Yes, you’re right. Let’s discredit regulator audited statistics and believe you instead.]
    AIG was audited and claimed to be solvent right until the ‘unseen’ risky bets where triggered by a credit event, which made them insolvent. It’s always after the matter when the true risk figures are made public.
    My advice is, quit while you’re ahead.

     
  18. Comment avatar

    Bentley    

    Fantastic well researched article Rob.

     
  19. Comment avatar

    Ron Butler    

    Watchdog, all I can say is that I don’t think it will turn out exactly as you have outlined.
    I do however, know of a nice grassy knoll you can relax on and there is a also a birth certificate of a sitting President that will give you hours of fun.

     
  20. Comment avatar

    Patiently....waiting    

    Let’s get this issue of “equity” correct. For any house, Debt owed is a hard number, whereas Equity owned in soft number which depends upon what is the sale price (or potential sale price) of the house. So, saying that there is 45% Equity ‘today’ means nothing when doing a risk analysis. If house prices falls, the equity is first to vanish, but debt doesn’t.

     
  21. Comment avatar

    LS    

    Great article. I think it does reinforce my point from a previous article though: CMHC is distorting the market by insuring mortgages and charging too little for it.
    The banks’ actions prove that point. If the banks thought that the risk wasn’t there, they wouldn’t pay for the premiums. It seems they have assessed the true risk and come to the conclusion that they would rather pass it off to the taxpayer for a small fee than take it on themselves. Hence the CMHC is subsidizing big bank profits. Not exactly in their mandate….

     
  22. Comment avatar

    Canadian Watchdog    

    It’s becoming more evident who the sub-primers are:
    “The mortgages, typically granted to the self-employed and recent immigrants, “have some similarities to non-prime loans in the U.S. retail lending market,” the documents show. ”
    Bloomberg Obtains OSFI FOI Documents:http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-30/canada-s-subprime-crisis-seen-with-u-s-styled-loans-mortgages.html

     
  23. Comment avatar

    Dizzle    

    @Canadian Watchdog,
    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”
    — Upton Sinclair.

     
  24. Comment avatar

    cj    

    wow, apparently this is happening TODAY. We just got the word from Street Capital that they wont even do rentals anymore.
    Hopefully only a short term setback.

     
  25. Comment avatar

    416    

    Who said mortgage owners with more than 20% don’t default? Of course they do. They just default way less. When they do, there are usually no insurance claims because they can sell their property to pay off the mortgage.

     
  26. Comment avatar

    416    

    OK. So you are suggesting people in the industry who express an opinion are all crooked? No one can make an objective statement unless they’re an outsider? Is that right?
    That sounds like a convenient diversion from someone who can’t support their emotional arguments with hard data.

     
  27. Comment avatar

    Lorilee    

    Anyone want to open a taco stand???
    Great article Ron thanks

     
  28. Comment avatar

    Lorilee    

    oops Rob keys too close together.
    LL

     
  29. Comment avatar

    Dizzle    

    Wow, 416. That tiny quote sure got your hackles up.
    I’ll simply point out that I made no emotional arguments — in fact no arguments at all — and certainly none that required hard data to back them up.

     
  30. Comment avatar

    Outsider    

    If only banks could just keep the risky mortgage asset and be happy making ridiculously large amounts of interest on the high ratio mortgages they have already.

     
  31. Comment avatar

    LS    

    So you are suggesting people in the industry who express an opinion are all crooked?
    Having a bias is not the same as being crooked.
    No one can make an objective statement unless they’re an outsider?
    No one can make an objective statement period. Industry insiders will be biased towards the industry for the most part, and outsiders will be biased by whatever their viewpoint is.
    So I agree, data is the best argument. It can be interpreted differently, but at least there’s some solid basis there.

     
  32. Comment avatar

    Grant    

    My question to you all.
    LOC’s
    If in 2009 you had your property valued by the bank with an appraisal at $1,200,000.00 and they gave you 50% or $600,000.00 at prime. Today the property is valued at approx: $810,000.00. This is on a lot of other properties also. Do you see banks lowering the amount of the LOC to $405,000.00 to protect themselves?
    Thanks
    Grant

     
  33. Comment avatar

    416    

    Don’t play innocent. Your point is clearly implied. You didn’t post that quote for nothing.
    You must think readers here are stupid or something.

     
  34. Comment avatar

    416    

    Facts speak for themselves. As shocking as it may seem, some people actually can present facts without bias. Objectivity and industry association are not always mutually exclusive.

     
  35. Comment avatar

    AskRoss    

    A really well written and informative article Rob. As you know, even more news is coming out today and the rest of the week as lenders grapple to cope with the new reality of limited available mortgage portfolio insurance.

     
  36. Comment avatar

    @mysmartmortgage    

    I have a lender that sent out an email yesterday afternoon changing their guidelines for conventional mortgages already…soon other lenders may follow.

     
  37. Comment avatar

    Value Indexer    

    Just like other insurance companies, banks, and over-leveraged homebuyers, it’s not the total or the average that counts when things go wrong. I take it CMHC is well-managed but the fact that the average insured mortgage has 45% equity doesn’t mean they can pay out 45% of the total insured value before they start taking losses.
    What counts is the things that aren’t average. The average would still be 45% if half of the homeowners have 5% equity and half have 85% equity. But if you say instead that half of the insured mortgages could have the equity wiped out by a small drop in the market that’s a risk that could increase the cost of claims.
    If most of the loses now are covered by equity rather than the insurance that could mean losses 3-5x as high. I don’t know if that’s the case but the average equity doesn’t tell us.

     
  38. Comment avatar

    risto    

    Government policy extended amortizations to 40 years during this real estate mania which, in retrospect, was clearly a mistake and demonstrates how poor gov’t is at forecasting real estate price action. Gov’t/tax payer guarantees of mtg liabilities through CMHC has artificially created excessive leverage and real estate price appreciation. In the US, Freddie & Fannie also promoted excessive credit growth at the heights of their real estate bubble demonstrating zero ability to predict the housing crises that they helped create. Canadian’s current binge on credit is at all time highs while The Bank of Canada broadcasts it’s concerns. Unfortunately, the Bank’s warnings have been largely ignored by policy makers and the credit party continues. The proverbial CMHC punch bowl keeps refilling while the song keeps playing. As long as lenders are insured against losses they will continue lending. Why wouldn’t they? The inevitable day of reckoning will occur at which point all Canadian tax payers will end up having a heck of a hang-over.

     
  39. Comment avatar

    Ralph Cramdown    

    Many insurance companies have gone broke even though, in the long run, they were ahead of the game. It’s the nature of the business.
    Also, how did CMHC’s ‘average’ 45% LTV start out life, on average? Was it a 95% LTV for which they collected a fat premium, or a conventional mortgage which a bank insured for a few basis points? Obviously they’d need a hundred or so of the latter for every high-LTV that defaults. And it’s ALWAYS the high-LTV loans that default — people with equity can just sell and pay if they run into trouble.

     
  40. Comment avatar

    Robert McLister    

    Hi V.I.,
    Regarding the concern in your post about LTV weighting, here are the latest CMHC stats pertaining to its distribution of LTVs:
    <5% equity: 2% of mortgages
    5-9.99% equity: 7% of mortgages
    10-19.99% equity: 18% of mortgages
    >=20% equity: 73% of mortgages
    Source: http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/corp/about/core/upload/Q3-QFR_final_EN.pdf

     
  41. Comment avatar

    Donna    

    “Many insurance companies have gone broke”
    None had even close to the amount of government supervision and leadership as CMHC.

     
  42. Comment avatar

    Robert McLister    

    To: Ryan Kirwan, Appraiser, Ben Rabidoux, Ron Butler, Bentley, LS, Lorilee, and AskRoss,
    Sorry for my delay in saying THANK YOU! Busy few days!

     
  43. Comment avatar

    Viv    

    If your credit utilization is high and ongoing, it’s more likely they would lower your limit. If you pay as agreed, keep a reasonable balance and don’t ask for more credit, then you can fly under the RADAR. I heard TD reviews HELOCS every five years or so. Maybe someone here can confirm that?

     
  44. Comment avatar

    TheRagingRanter    

    Thank you for this. This was a very thorough examination of the issue, and a very balanced treatment of the issues as they stand today. It is in total contrast to the CAAMP email quoted in your Feb 4th post, which sounds like so a desperate industry shill trying to keep the market rolling as long as possible. The CMHC has painted itself into a very difficult corner, and whatever it decides, it will likely face accusations that they either prolonged the bubble or caused it to crash unnecessarily. In fact, I feel it quite likely they’ll be getting it from both sides. They already are.

     
  45. Comment avatar

    dave    

    Actually, unlike private insurers, the CMHC is not regulated by OSFI.

     
  46. Comment avatar

    mhaslehurst@dominionlending.ca    

    Bulk insurance has surely been viewed as a win for financial instituitions and CMHC. However, as a result, CMHC has drifted away from their original mandate as outlined in the NHA-“The purpose of this Act, in relation to financing for housing, is to promote housing affordability and choice, to facilitate access to, and competition and efficiency in the provision of, housing finance, to protect the availability of adequate funding for housing at low cost, and generally to contribute to the well-being of the housing sector in the national economy.” There are still several areas in Canada that despite LTV, lenders will not lend on a conventional basis and private insurers will not touch. CMHC again is mandated by the NHA to provide mortgage insurance in these areas. The direction CMHC has taken with respect to bulk insurance will actually have an affect on future settlement and should be a concern for any lender or broker 100 kms. from a major centre.

     
  47. Comment avatar

    Gregg    

    I think one could argue the opposite, that bulk insurance does promote affordability (lower rates), competition and choice (more lenders to choose from).

     
  48. Comment avatar

    Roger    

    Artificially inflates pricing(less affordable) no risk to banks all the risk to tax payers

     
  49. Comment avatar

    Trevor    

    Home prices won’t be inflated by “artificial” affordability much longer. Rates are near the bottom and lending is getting tighter. I don’t think things can get much more affordable unless house prices drop.
    Before you talk about risk, understand that banks do have a risk of loss on an insured mortgage. It is a common misconception that they don’t. CMHC mostly covers lost interest and principal but defaults have more downside than that.
    The fact is, we taxpayers are owners of this big insurance company and it’s been very profitable. Risk and profitable insurance companies go hand in hand because insurers always operate with a small amount of risk.
    That’s why saying that CMHC creates risk for taxpayers tells us nothing. For a meaningful discussion you have to know how much risk and then compare it to the reward.
    The #1 reward of CMHC is a stronger housing market. You don’t hear most homeowners complaining about rising home prices. They’re happy their properties are worth more.
    Most of the complainers are people who aren’t in the market, or who don’t even understand the “risks” they are complaining about.
    It doesn’t matter much anyway. We will be leaving the “easy money” and “easy credit” days soon enough. Then people will have nothing left to worry about, except for maybe a crash triggered by too much government tightening.

     

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