Bianca Marijan

Broker of Record/Owner

1 in 5 Mortgages are Negatively Amortizing

Paying off your mortgage is a significant financial milestone, but what if you found yourself stuck in a situation where your monthly payments no longer cover the interest, let alone make a dent in your loan? This is a growing concern for many homeowners, and it’s a phenomenon that’s causing financial stress for families across the country. In this blog post, we’ll explore the concept of negative amortization and how it’s affecting mortgages and homeowners in Canada.

Understanding Negative Amortization:

Negative amortization occurs when homeowners with variable-rate mortgages, particularly those with capped payments, feel the impact of rising interest rates. With a fixed payment on a variable-rate mortgage, the portion of your monthly payment allocated to interest increases as interest rates rise. When your monthly payment no longer covers all the interest costs, you fall into the trap of negative amortization. The additional interest gets added back to your mortgage balance, causing your debt to increase instead of decreasing as you intended.

The Real-Life Impact:

To illustrate the gravity of this issue, let’s take the example of a homeowner in Quebec who experienced this phenomenon. Last month, this homeowner paid only $23 toward the principal amount of their mortgage while shelling out more than $11,100 in interest. As a result, their mortgage repayment period nearly doubled from 25 to 47 years. This startling revelation left them understandably unhappy, as they watched their debt balloon instead of diminishing.

The Banks’ Perspective:

Negative amortization isn’t an isolated problem. In fact, approximately one in five residential mortgages at three major Canadian banks – TD, BMO, and CIBC – are currently facing this issue. The total value of negatively amortizing loans at these banks is a staggering $128 billion. Clearly, this is a significant concern for both borrowers and lenders.

Potential Solutions:

When faced with negative amortization, homeowners have a few options, although not all are practical in the current economic context. They can make a lump sum payment, refinance their mortgage, or increase their monthly payments. Unfortunately, these solutions may not be viable for everyone, especially given the ongoing economic challenges and inflation.

Regulatory Response:

Recognizing the risk associated with negative amortization, Canada’s Superintendent of Financial Institutions has decided to take action. New rules and guidelines are set to be introduced later this month, with the aim of reigning in the risk for both lenders and their clients. While these regulations are still pending, they hold the potential to provide much-needed relief to homeowners trapped in negative amortization.

The growing prevalence of negative amortization among homeowners is a concerning issue, particularly in the face of economic challenges and rising inflation. As we await regulatory solutions to this problem, it’s crucial for homeowners to stay informed about their mortgage terms and conditions and explore any available options to address this financial predicament. Negative amortization is a stark reminder that financial stability and responsible lending practices are of utmost importance when it comes to homeownership.

 

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