Photo: James Bombales

Canadian mortgage debt has surged in recent months, setting an all-time record for household debt growth within the first half of the year.

Statistics Canada released its Monthly Credit Aggregates report for June 2021 late last week, with new insights on the record-breaking levels of mortgage debt Canadians have accumulated so far in 2021.

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Household mortgage debt grew by 1.4 percent from May to June, a month to month increase of $23.6 billion. By comparison, $16.8 billion in household mortgage loans was added in May, and $17.8 billion in April. June’s growth marks the largest monthly increase for mortgage debt on record, Statistics Canada stated in its report. On an annual basis, mortgage borrowing rose by 9.2 percent from June 2020, a pace that has not been recorded since October 2008.

During the first half of 2021, Canadian households have garnered $81.6 billion in mortgage debt, just short of the $108.6 billion in total debt that was added throughout all 12 months of 2020.

The new stress test rules that came into effect on June 1st, which boosted minimum qualifying rates for uninsured mortgages, may have played a role in sparking additional borrowing prior to the new rule’s implementation, the report explained.

Photo: James Bombales

While increases to Canadian mortgage debt have accelerated, Statistics Canada also pointed out that resale volume and the average resale price have been cooling since the country’s market activity peaked back in March 2021.

“There is normally a time lag between the sale of a home and the actual receipt of mortgage funds,” said the report. “However, borrowers may also be in the market for a new home, or otherwise be taking additional equity out of their home or consolidating debt when refinancing their existing mortgages.”

When looking at credit liabilities of households, these levels increased by 1.1 percent from May to June for a total of approximately $2.5 billion. Real estate secured debt, which is made up of mortgage debt and home equity lines of credit, rose 1.3 percent to surpass $2 trillion for the first time ever, Statistics Canada noted.

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