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CAAMP’s Spring Mortgage Report 2013

CAAMP Spring Report 2013Every six months, CAAMP's mortgage market survey provides a pulse on mortgage activity. The theme of its latest report is balance. In other words, the report aims to establish the need for balancing two risks:

(a) the risk that Canadian housing overheats (which is being mitigated by tighter mortgage policies), and

(b) the risk of economic damage caused by a policy-driven housing slowdown. 

"At this point, it's important to support the economic contribution that housing makes, instead of further restricting it," CAAMP president Jim Murphy said in an interview today. "The market was already slowing when the last set
of rule changes were implemented. Now the market has slowed further and we feel the changes put in place have gone far enough."

Apart from commentary on mortgage policy, report author Will Dunning shares a host of other intriguing findings. There's new data on mortgage rates, refinancing, amortization length and more. Key points are highlighted below in green, with our comments in italics


Mortgage rate discounting

Among those who initiated, renewed, or refinanced a mortgage since the beginning of 2012, and chose 5-year fixed rates:

  • The average mortgage interest rate: 3.05%
  • The highest rate recorded in the survey: 3.75%
    (Dunning says that every mortgage in this dataset had an actual interest rate that was lower than the average posted rate. This counters those who claim that banks still routinely stick people with posted rates.
  • The average discount was: 2.20 percentage points off the “posted” rate
    (That would be equivalent to 2.94% today.)

General mortgage rates:

  • The average homeowners' mortgage rate: 3.52%
    (The average will continue to drop in the next year as people renew and refinance.)
  • The average rate for mortgages…
  • on homes purchased in 2012 and 2013: 3.22%
  • that were recently renewed: 3.15%
    (It seems odd that interest rates are lower on renewals than purchases. Past studies have shown that lenders often exploit renewers' resistance to change and stick them with less competitive rates.)

Rate type

For homes bought from 2012 to present…

  • % of new mortgagors with fixed rates: 85%
  • % of new mortgagors with variable or adjustable rates: 13%
  • % of mortgagors with “combination” mortgages: 3% 
    (Also called hybrid mortgages, these are typically mortgages that are part fixed and part variable)

Repayment and lump sum payments

  • % of mortgage holders who voluntarily increased their regular payments during the past year: 18%
    (The number of mortgagors who prepay is notably higher if you measure over a five-year span.)
  • The average amount of increase: $300 per month
  • % who made lump sum payments during the past year: 16%
  • The average total lump sum payment amount: $10,000

(By comparison, a just-released CGA-Canada survey finds that "21% of mortgage holders increased the amount of mortgage payments or made lump sum contributions to pay off mortgage faster over the past year.")  


  • % of the original amortization time that was required to repay a mortgage (over the past two decades): 2/3 of the contracted period
    (This is thanks in large part to prepayments, as referenced above.
  • Amount of time that recent buyers expect to take to repay their mortgages: just under 20 years (the same time period as their parents’ generation)
  • % of mortgages on 2012/13 purchases that had extended amortizations: 25%
  • % of all mortgages with contracted amortizations of no more than 25 years: 80% 

Home equity

  • Average homeowner equity in Canada:  67%
  • The equity ratio for owners with both
    mortgages and HELOCs: 49%
  • The
    equity ratio for owners without mortgages but with HELOCs: 79%
  • Percentage
    of homeowners in Canada who have 25%
    or more equity in their
    homes: 83% 
    (about 8 million out of 9.65 million households)
  • % of homeowners who have less than 10% equity: 4%
  • % of mortgagors (with or without a HELOC) who have less than 10% equity: 7% 
    (That's about 400,000 households. A serious housing downturn would obviously inflate this number.)
  • Among homeowners who have mortgages (with or without a HELOC), the percentage who have equity ratios of 25% or higher: 73%

Equity take-outs

  • % of homeowners who took
    equity out of their home in the past year: about 8%
  • The average amount of equity
    take-out: $48,000
  • The most common uses for the
    funds from equity take-out:

    1. Renovation: $17.5 billion
    2. Purchases (including
      education): $8.6 billion
    3. Investments: $5.6 billion
    4. Debt consolidation and
      repayment: $4.7 billion
    5. Other: $2.5

Housing market

  • # of households in Canada: 13.7 million
  • # of renters: 4.05 million
  • # of homeowners in Canada: 9.65 million
  • # of homeowners who are mortgage-free: 3.70 million
  • # of homeowners who have mortgages (they may also have a Home Equity Line of Credit): 5.95 million
  • # of Canadian homeowners who have HELOCs: 2.35 million
  • # of households that bought homes in 2012: 600,000
  • Among the 600,000 households who bought homes, number who sold an existing home: about 225,000 to 250,000 
    (Of those, the number that had existing mortgages: 175,000 to 200,000)

Mortgage market activity

  • Mortgages for purchases: $110 billion
  • Principal repayment via regular payments: $60 billion
  • Lump sum payments by mortgage holders
    • Where the mortgage was not fully repaid: $10 billion
    • Where the mortgage was fully repaid: $3 billion
  • # of 2012 homebuyers who took out a mortgage: 450,000 
  • # of homeowners with mortgages who renewed or refinanced a mortgage in 2012: 800,000
  • Number of Canadian homeowners who fully repaid their mortgages in 2012: 200,000

Mortgage credit growth

  • CAAMP's growth rate forecast for
    2014: Between 2.5% and 3.0%
    (The last such analyst forecast we saw came from RBC Capital Markets. It estimated 2.0 to 4.0% mortgage growth.)
  • The outstanding total of
    residential mortgage credit: $1.16 trillion at the end of 2012
  • CAAMP's year-end 2013 forecast for residential mortgage credit: $1.21 to $1.22 trillion

Types of mortgage representatives consulted

For all current mortgages (regardless of
when they were obtained), the percentage that were obtained from:

  • a bank: 57%
  • a mortgage broker: 25%
  • a credit union: 10%

Among borrowers who took out a new mortgage in 2012 or 2013 (through April), those who obtained their mortgage:

  • from a Canadian bank: 51%
  • from a mortgage broker: 31%

For mortgages that were renewed in 2012/13:

  • Those who renewed with their existing lender: 86%
    (That's up from 78% in last year's report. It's no surprise that lenders are working harder to retain customers as mortgage volume slows.)
  • Those who used a mortgage broker: 21%

Credit cards

  • Average outstanding credit card balance: $3,500
  • Average outstanding credit card
    balance for those who generally carry a balance: $6,500

Economic impact

The following are CAAMP estimates on the economic impact of home building and stricter mortgage rules:

  • Drop in resale activity following the latest July 2012 insured mortgage restrictions:  9%
    (Jim Murphy notes that volume in this year's spring market—typically prime time in the housing market—has been disappointing. He adds, "Lenders have
    called me to say the same thing: Spring market? What spring market?"
  • Drop in seasonally adjusted housing starts this past April:  15%
  • Number
    of “person-years” of employment created by each low-rise dwelling constructed: 1.75
  • Number
    of “person-years” of employment created by each apartment constructed: 1.25
  • Estimated number of net jobs lost by mid-2015, due to tighter mortgage guidelines: ~150,000
    (In other words, CAAMP believes mortgage regulations will reduce the level of jobs by 150,000 two years from now. This figure is revised from CAAMP's earlier estimates.)


  • # of households who are renters: 4.05 million
  • Rental vacancy rate in Canada, as of October 2012:
    (That's identical to the average of the past 40 years, but some cities have become far tighter than others. CAAMP notes that "a consequence of the housing
    market downturn is that rental market vacancy rates will fall." It
    adds: "vacancy rates that are lower than they need to be will result
    in rent increases that are more rapid than they need to be, and greater
    hardship for tenants."

Survey Details: CAAMP notes that: "Data used in this report was obtained from various sources, including an online survey of 2,000 Canadians. Almost 60% were homeowners with mortgages and the rest were renters, homeowners without mortgages, or others who live with their families and are not responsible for mortgage payments or rents. The survey was conducted by Maritz (a national public opinion and market research firm) for CAAMP, during April 2013."

Rob McLister, CMT