Regulatory success

Melanie ConsMortgage Talk Canada

Canada’s mortgage growth has fallen to the lowest in nearly two decades as interest rates rise and after new mortgage rules took effect at the start of the year.

Total residential mortgage credit grew just 0.3 percent on average over the last three months, the slowest since 2001, Bank of Canada data show. That’s down from 0.47 percent at the end of 2017, and about half the average 0.57 percent pace over the past twenty years. Outstanding residential mortgage loans in Canada now total C$1.53 trillion ($1.19 trillion), the data show.

Borrowing costs are rising for the first time in almost a decade, and recent rule changes are making it tougher to get a mortgage. Just how sensitive consumers — and the economy — will be to higher rates has become a key question for policy makers, with Canadians now holding a record C$1.70 in debt for every dollar of disposable income.

Dominique Lapointe, an economist at the University of Ottawa’s Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy sees slowing credit growth as a potential headwind for Canada’s economy, at least in the short run. “In the near term, it’s bad for growth. In the longer-run, when it leads to deleveraging, it’s good for financial stability. What matters is the speed of deceleration, or contraction, in credit,” Lapointe said in an email.

Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz will be speaking later this afternoon on the subject of household indebtedness.

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