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How to Combat New Mortgage Rules and Interest Rate Increases

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How to Combat New Mortgage Rules and Interest Rate Increases

The past year has been a rocky one for Canadian homeowners. The Bank of Canada announced interest rate increases starting in July of 2017. Since then, the interest rates have increased three times, going from 0.5 per cent to 1.25 per cent. While all this was happening, Canada’s new mortgage rules also came into effect, starting January 1, 2018. These rules add an additional stress test onto uninsured mortgages (those with a down payment higher than 20 per cent) and also put added restrictions onto lenders.

If you’re a homeowner, or were already struggling with debt, it can seem like a lot to take in all at once. Your financial security can play a large role in your well-being and if you don’t know your financial position or aren’t sure what to do about the interest rate increases or new mortgage rules, it’s understandable. However, there is a way that you can combat these changes and come out financially stronger.

Let’s start by looking at the new mortgage rules. These are most likely to affect you if a) you’re a new homebuyer, or b) you are up for mortgage renewal or are considering mortgage refinancing.

If you’re planning to buy or refinance a house, the new mortgage rules could mean that you have to spend less, even with a down payment of more than 20 per cent, if you’re going through a federally regulated mortgage lender.

If you’re up for a mortgage renewal or considering a mortgage refinancing, it could also mean that you’ll be subject to the same “stress test” and other lender regulations, too — particularly if you were to switch to a different federally regulated lender.

Under the new mortgage rules, lenders are encouraged to look at more than just the loan-to-value ratio (LTV), which is the amount of the mortgage lien divided by the appraised value of the property. Lenders will also be looking at two other factors — your gross debt service ratio (GDS) and your total debt service ratio (TDS). The GDS is the percentage of your income needed to pay all of your housing-related costs, including the mortgage, taxes, and utilities. Your TDS is the percentage of your income needed to cover all your debts. This can include student loans, lines of credit, credit cards, and more.

This is where the interest rate increases come in. If you are carrying a large amount of debt, your GDS and TDS will likely be affected as you may be paying more in interest on the amount owing.

The way to combat both the new mortgage rules and the interest rate increases then is to assess your debt levels. Take stock of your finances: how much debt do you carry? How close to the limit are you with your monthly payments? How far away are you from being unable to manage? Once you know the answer, you can create a plan to make sure that you are in a secure financial position.

If your debt is seeming overwhelming and that pain point is looming too close for comfort, there is help available. A debt consulting organization, such as DebtCare Canada, can help you assess your situation and find the financial solutions that are right for you.

If you’d like to buy a house or are up for mortgage renewal, another option you can take is to explore other lender routes besides the federally regulated big banks. DebtCare Canada offers competitive financial programs to help people no matter their credit or income.

Call DebtCare Canada to find out more at 1-888-890-0888 or visit www.debtcare.ca.

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