Canadians can expect greater oversight of CMHC in the future

We were warned earlier in the year that the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) would be backing fewer Canadian home loansmoving forward, but little seems to have changed on the ground.

Now, the new federal budget is planning for greater oversight of the federal crown corporation, which was founded to provide insurance on Canadian mortgages where buyers are unable to produce a down payment of 20 percent or more.

“The government will propose legislative amendments to strengthen oversight of CMHC and to ensure its commercial activities are managed in a manner that promotes the stability of the financial system,” the budget said.

Banks are required to insure mortgages that don’t meet the minimum 20-percent down payment threshold. Apparently, in recent years, banks have been insuring mortgages that are eligible to be processed without the insurance. Given that purchasers bear the burden of the insurance cost, it’s no wonder that this approach seems attractive to lenders. No additional cost to them – substantial decrease in potential risk of loss.

Three years ago, CMHC reached the ceiling for mortgages that it was allowed to insure, by law, at $450 billion. That number was adjusted to $600 billion at that time. By the end of 2011, CMHC was insuring $541-billion in Canadian mortgage loans.

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