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Residential Market Commentary - Alternative lenders update

Feb 10, 2020
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First National Financial LP

The latest check-up on Canada’s residential mortgage industry shows the influence of alternative lenders continues to grow.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation estimates that alternative mortgage lenders headed into 2019 with a market size of between $13 billion and $14 billion.  That is up significantly from the $8 billion to $10 billion, estimated in 2016.

It is a small share of the overall market, but the important point is that it is growing.  Many market watchers believe the federal stress test for mortgage borrowers is fuelling the shift away from the big banks, which still hold 75% of the business.

The most recent quarterly review by CMHC also shows that alternative lenders are taking on riskier loans in the form of second and third mortgages.  The percentage of, safer, first mortgages in the portfolios of large mortgage investment corporations and mortgage investment entities dropped from 88% in 2017 to 77% in 2018.  According to CMHC, that means the proportion of second and third mortgages in the portfolios is bigger.

Among large mortgage investment corporations (those with portfolios of $100 million or more) the share of debt-to-capital rose from 19% in 2017 to 22% in 2018.  Among the small, alternative lenders the rate of debt-to-capital rose from 8% to 9%.

Despite the increased risk, alternative lenders have seen a decline in delinquency rates.  Between 2018 and 2019 the rate slipped from 1.93% to 1.65%.