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Even as household debt reached record highs, Canadians’ credit situation remained stable in the fourth quarter of 2016.
At the end of 2016, the ratio of debt to disposable income spiked to 167.2 per cent, up three percentage points from 2015, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) Mortgage and Consumer Credit Trends report published on Tuesday.
Despite the rise, CMHC says the credit situation for Canadian consumers improved in Q4-2016, and those with a mortgage have performed even better.
Using recent data from credit reporting agency Equifax, the report analyzes the financial situation and trends of Canadian consumers and mortgage holders.
Mortgages continue to be the largest monthly obligation Canadian consumers pay at an estimated average of $1,196 a month, a 2 per cent increase from the previous year.
Even though mortgage payment amounts have gone up, more Canadians are paying their loans on time. In the final quarter of 2016, there was a drop in overall delinquency rates across loans of all value ranges. In addition, loans worth less than $200,000 saw its lowest delinquency rate in a year.
This is good news considering the Bank of Canada raised its overnight rate, which influences the mortgage market, 25 basis points to 0.75 per cent last week. The central bank has not hiked the rate in seven years.
With new financing rules introduced in Q4-2016 to tighten access to insured mortgage credit, CMHC says Canadian households should be able to adjust to interest hikes.
“These measures, aimed at both high and low ratio insured mortgages, should help insulate households from rising mortgage service costs due to rising interest rates,” writes CMHC.
In regards to non-mortgage debt, auto loans were the fastest growing segment in the final quarter of 2016, representing four per cent of total debt.
Delinquency rates for auto loans, credit cards and line of credits edged up slightly for both consumers with and without a mortgage in Q4-2016, but rates remain higher for consumers without a mortgage.
According to CMHC, Canada’s mortgage market is not under “additional stress” as the amount of mortgage loans and mortgage debt in arrears dropped in the last quarter of 2016.