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Bank of Montreal

Starting on June 1st 2021, Canada’s federal banking regulator has once tightened the rules on the Mortgage Stress Test. This is the percentage rate set by the regulator that borrowers need to qualify at for a mortgage, regardless of what the actual interest rate is at the time of applying. This change will affect both potential home buyers with a 20% down payment or less than 20% down.

The thinking around this is to have borrowers show that they can continue to pay their mortgage on the off chance that rates will rise to the stress level qualifying rate. The stress test will also apply to borrowers who are looking to refinance.

Essentially the stress test will affect borrowing power by Approximately 5%. For example, a family with an annual income of $100,000 with a 20 per cent down payment and five-year fixed mortgage rate of 1.78 per cent amortized over 30 years would qualify for a home valued at $651,000 under the previous 4.79 per cent qualifying rate, according to

Under the new stress test rate of 5.25 per cent, that family’s maximum affordability would decrease to $618,000.

If you need more information on this or any other mortgage advice, we have an amazing team of professional mortgage advisers on standby, just let us know and we can send you their info.


CMHC has announced new changes coming on July 1st. You can read the official CMHC announcement here. But here’s a quick summary of the changes:

–       Minimum Credit Score rises from 600 to 680

–       Maximum GDS drops to 35% (formerly 39%)

–       Maximum TDS drops to 42% (formerly 44%)

–       Borrowed Down payments are banned

Do you need to panic?

Not necessarily as there are 3 insurers in Canada.  So far CMHC is the only one that has announced any changes.  It is possible that the other 2 mortgage insurers (Genworth & Canada Guaranty), won’t follow at all, or they’ll only follow some of the rules.  In fact, it might be a good competitive advantage for them not to follow all of the changes (unless mandated by the federal government).  We may hear from the other 2 insurers early next week.

What does each change mean?

No More Borrowed Down payment – This isn’t really a big deal at all, as virtually zero lenders participated in this program, and the way this program worked it was pretty much an un-used program anyways.  In fact, as you read this, you likely didn’t even know this program was still an option.

Credit Score Requirement – CMHC now requires a minimum 680 credit score (for 1 borrower). Previously it was 600.  CMHC says that less than 6% of their mortgage applications this year had scores below 680, so it should not really affect a lot of CMHC buyers anyways…but it will affect some.

35/42 GDS/TDS – This is without a doubt the biggest announced change, and it could potentially have the largest effect on the lower end of the real estate market.  This could affect an average borrower anywhere from 12% or more on their borrowing power.   For example if you qualified to borrow $500,000 before, your maximum mortgage is now reduced to about $440,000.

Why are they doing this?

This only affects people buying homes after July 1st.  And it will mostly affect the purchasing power of the youngest, the lowest income and lowest down payment buyers.

It won’t affect any of the following types of mortgage borrowers:

–       Any buyer with over 20% down payment

–       Any buyer of a home valued more than $1 Million

–       Rental property purchasers

–       Anyone refinancing their mortgage

–       Anyone renewing their mortgage.

So, it only affects a very small portion of home buyers in the lower mainland.  Unfortunately this could meant that it’s the first-time buyers that are hurt the most.  Those same first-time buyers that were hurt the most from the mortgage stress test.

If you’re preapproved, and you’re intending to buy a home with less than 20% down payment, you definitely need to speak to us about how this might affect you.  It might put some urgency to buy a home before July 1st.