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CMHC says mortgage insurance values down in second quarter

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Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said the total value of its mortgage insurance shrank in the second quarter as the federal government continues to foresee itself playing a smaller role in the country’s housing market.

CMHC insured $11.78-billion in new mortgages for homeowners in the three months ending in June, down from $12.49-billion in the same period last year. The agency insured $3.2-billion worth of bulk portfolio insurance program, which allows lenders to insure large numbers of uninsured mortgages, more than double the volume from the second quarter last year, a spike the agency said was due to more lenders opting to insure more of their uninsured mortgages in the second quarter rather than toward the end of the year.

Overall CMHC says it now insures $534-billion worth of mortgages. That figure is down $17-billion from $551-billion last year. The federal housing agency has a legislated limit of $600-billion in mortgage insurance.

CMHC insures 41.2 per cent of all outstanding mortgages in Canada, down from 44.8 per cent in the same period last year.

Despite a sharp downturn in oil prices since last fall and fears over a Canadian recession this year, CMHC said claims on its mortgage insurance increased by just $1-million in the second quarter compared to the same period last year, to $88-million.

Nationally, the agency’s loss ratio – the percentage of its total outstanding insured mortgages that are at least 90 days in arrears – was 0.34 per cent, up from 0.33 per cent a year earlier.

The average credit score for borrowers was 748 in the second quarter, up from 745 a year earlier, while the average value of an insured mortgage rose 2 per cent to $235,384.

Regionally, however, mortgages arrears were up for the year by more than a third in Newfoundland and Saskatchewan, two provinces whose housing markets have struggled this year amid falling commodity prices.

Arrears fell slightly in Alberta and dropped in B.C. and Ontario, markets that have benefited from lower interest rates and a falling Canadian dollar.

In June, CMHC hiked premiums for borrowers who have down payments below 10 per cent, which brought in an additional $22-million in revenue for the federal agency.

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