Mortgage Borrowing Slides to 4-Yr. Low

Canadians are thinking twice before buying that new house, given stiffer mortgage requirements, according to new figures released Thursday by Statistics Canada.

The agency reports the mortgage borrowing of folks nationwide over the first three months of 2018 fell by $2 billion to $13.7 billion — the lowest level since the second quarter of 2014 — following the introduction of new lending rules and a rise in interest rates.

StatsCan also said the slide in mortgage borrowing mirrored the 17% decrease in the value of residential resale activity in the first quarter of this year.

The figures on mortgage borrowing are in the latest release of Statistics Canada's national balance sheet, which details such things as Canada's national net worth, the household sector's total worth and debt and federal government borrowing.

With the cooling in mortgage borrowing, household credit market debt for the quarter was the equivalent of 168% of household disposable income. That figure is down from the 169.7% seen in the fourth quarter of 2017.

In other words, there was $1.68 in credit market debt for every dollar of household disposable income. Credit market debt includes consumer credit, plus mortgage and non-mortgage loans.

Sources report that the drop in the debt-to-income ratio was the biggest on records dating back to 1990, and the ratio is now down to its lowest level in two years. The debt-to-income ratio hit a record high of 170% in the third quarter of last year.