Ottawa has announced new rules in response to concerns that some markets in Canada are overheated and that Canadian debt levels continue to increase. These changes are meant to alleviate risk in Canada’s housing market but may have a significant impact on the housing market, especially first time home buyers.

Here are the highlights:

  • Effective October 17th, all mortgages that require mortgage default insurance, which are typically those with less that 20% down payment, will now require borrowers prove they can qualify based on a higher mortgage rate set by the Bank of Canada called the “benchmark rate”. This measure was previously in place for mortgages with terms less than 5 years or variable rate mortgages, but will now apply to all mortgages, including 5-year fixed rate mortgages.
  • Effective October 3rd, a tax loophole that allowed non-residents to buy homes in Canada will be eliminated, and then get a tax exemption to avoid paying capital gains when they sell that home by claiming it as a principal residence. This increased scrutiny will ensure that the capital gain exemption is not abused, specifically by preventing non-residents from becoming residents then buying and selling a property in the same year.
  • The Government will continuously monitor the housing market to ensure that Canada’s housing finance system is healthy, competitive and stable by ensuring the market is balanced and appropriately reflects all parties’ abilities to share in the management of housing risks.