By Matthew Robinson, Vancouver Sun
December 11, 2015 7:59 PM

Experts say new mortgage rules will affect only a few buyers in Vancouver

€œIt is a fairly significant number of homes, but people buying $800,000 dollar homes typically aren€™t putting down razor thin down payments of five per cent and carrying that kind of a mortgage, Muir said.

€œFirst-time buyers, he said, €œtend to buy at the lower end of the market place, so for them it wouldn€™t be much of a change.

Muir characterized the federal move as €œlonger-term risk mitigation. When asked if it was a good idea, he said €œit€™s the least worst measure they could implement right now.

Tom Davidoff, an associate professor at UBC€™s Sauder School of Business, said increasing down payments to qualify for a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.-insured mortgages was a smart move.

€œYou€™re hedging against the risk of a home price decline, which is sensible for an insurance company, Davidoff said.

€œI don€™t know if house prices are going to fall from where they are here €” it€™s very hard to forecast home prices especially in a place like Vancouver or Toronto, where it€™s not so easy to add new supply €” but there€™s certainly a risk that prices will fall, Davidoff said.

€œYou don€™t charge a lot of money for each home insurance policy. If a buyer was to default, that€™s CMHC€™s problem.

Davidoff said if five or ten per cent of people in the market were taking on five per cent equity loans €œthis could really cool things down. But without seeing CMHC€™s numbers, €œmy impression is that€™s a smaller part of the market and therefore it€™s not likely to have a huge effect, he said.

On the listings side, the change could lead sellers in Canada to price homes that are around the $500,000 mark more strategically €” perhaps listing just under a half-million dollars, Davidoff said.

Neither Muir nor Davidoff could immediately say how many homes in the region would be affected by the change or where they are primarily located. To get a rough picture of the impact, The Sun ran through the region€™s active MLS listings Friday afternoon.

About one-quarter of Vancouver homes listed on MLS fell within the $500,000 to $1 million range, including 13 single-detached homes, 15 duplexes, 44 townhouses and 285 condos.

About 21 per cent of Burnaby homes on MLS, and 25 per cent of Richmond and North Vancouver homes fell in that price range. Most homes in those cities in that price range were apartments or townhouses. Moving further east, the proportion of single-family homes available in that price range increases. Most of the 39 Port-Coquitlam homes listed in that price range were single-detached houses, as were the bulk of the 661 in Surrey, 106 in Langley and 179 in Abbotsford.