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  • TRREB to drop 'master' bedroom term, replace with 'primary' in coming months
    The Canadian Press

    TRREB to drop 'master' bedroom term, replace with 'primary' in coming months

    TORONTO — Greater Toronto Area home hunters browsing through property listings will soon notice a change.The organization will use the word "primary" in place of "master," when referencing the main or principal bedrooms in homes in the coming months, said Toronto Regional Real Estate Board president Lisa Patel. "We know that words matter, and this is a step forward in rethinking outdated terms and modernizing the language used in the real estate industry," TRREB said in a notice sent to realtors about the change.The Ontario-based board is the latest in a string of real estate organizations to ditch terminology that is often seen as a reference to racism, sexism and slavery.The Canadian Real Estate Association, for example, switched to using "primary" on last October after a recommendation from the Real Estate Standards Organization.“Concerns about potentially derogatory connotations have caused some groups to push to change the 'master' terms,” said RESO chief executive Sam DeBord in the recommendation. “While use of this terminology by real estate professionals has been reviewed and cleared of discriminatory violations … consumer and professional concerns have remained, prompting some marketplaces to use alternatives.”While TRREB's change has yet to come into effect, Royal LePage Estate Realty's Asha Forrester was pleased with the decision. "It's about time this was brought to light," she said. "I think for people's perceptions to change our narrative and our language needs to change too."Though many agents like Forrester have already been using "primary," she has noticed some have yet to make the switch. When they use "master," she responds using "primary." "It's just a good step to start correcting people, when they do use that," she said.RE/MAX Hallmark Realty Ltd. real estate agent Desmond Brown was also in favour of the switch and believes it reflects how modern society is handling discrimination. "This new generation isn't taking it anymore and I think that's a good thing," he said.Brown sees the change as a sign of how language and attitudes evolve, but knows there will be some challenges as adoption happens."We're still going to get some Realtors who are going to, you know, push back on this because... some people are just reluctant to change."TRREB's change in terminology will apply to any entries in its MLS system, on and on its Webforms platform, where realtors share forms with clients, Patel said in an email.TRREB's board of directors approved the change following a recommendation made by its diversity and inclusion committee. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 14, 2021. Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press

  • Federal bank regulator proposes tightening test for uninsured mortgages
    The Canadian Press

    Federal bank regulator proposes tightening test for uninsured mortgages

    OTTAWA — The federal banking regulator is proposing increased requirements to the stress test facing homebuyers with uninsured mortgages as it looks ahead to a return to pre-pandemic financial conditions with higher interest rates. The proposal from the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions would set the qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages at the contracted rate plus two percentage points or 5.25 per cent, whichever is higher. That's a change from the current rules of the bank rate plus two percentage points or the Bank of Canada's five-year benchmark rate, which currently sits at 4.79 per cent. Any buyer whose down payment on a home is less than one-fifth of the purchase price must undergo the stress test to demonstrate they could still afford mortgage payments in a higher rate environment. The measure adds a margin of safety for borrowers. Rock-bottom interest rates, increased demand for homes and a shortage of supply have heated housing prices and prompted calls on the federal government and regulators to tighten rules to cool the market. OSFI said current housing market conditions have the potential to put lenders at increased financial risk should economic conditions deteriorate. Increasing the qualifying interest rate would add a margin of safety so borrowers will still be able to make mortgage payments if rates rise, the regulator said. Speaking to reporters, superintendent Jeremy Rudin said the overarching concern is that the system needs to be ready for a return to pre-pandemic conditions, when rates will once more be higher. "We have interest rates that are extraordinarily low, even by recent standards. And it's possible, not certain, but possible if not likely that they're extraordinarily low because of the pandemic, which as long-lived as it is, will in some sense be temporary," Rudin said. "We want to make sure that when the mortgages that are being taken today renew in three, four or five years, that lenders are protected so that borrowers are well-positioned to be able to service those debts, and safeguard the stability of the financial system." The proposed rate of 5.25 per cent was the average benchmark rate in the 12 months leading up to the pandemic. It will now be subject to a new round of consultations over the coming weeks with a final decision coming into force on June 1. Sherry Cooper, chief economist at Dominion Lending Centres, warned in a note that the timeline all but ensures the boom in home buying will accelerate as buyers try to get in before the deadline. She also said the federal government "could well follow OSFI's lead in tightening qualifying rules for insured loans." Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is responsible for any changes to the stress test on insured mortgages. Rudin said the Finance Department was among the federal agencies consulted on Thursday's proposal, adding that changes to the two tests have happened at different times in the past. James Laird, Co-founder of, said the regulator's proposal in the near-term would make it more difficult for first-time homebuyers to qualify for a mortgage, but could help them in the long run if the policy has the desired effect of slowing home value appreciation. Dave McKay, president and CEO of RBC, told reporters on a conference call that the any change in the qualifying rate test would be easy to implement into the bank's existing mortgage adjudication process. "We can tweak this really quickly and have an impact in short-term," he said. "From that perspective, it's smart directionally, and smart as far as implementation goes." Rudin also said the regulator will be keeping a close eye on banks' mortgage underwriting practices, specifically around collateral management, income verification, and debt servicing. He also said the regulator will monitor institutions extending amortization periods, and increasing debt-service limits. — With files from Tara Deschamps This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 8, 2021. Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

  • Regulator proposes new minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages in Canada
    Yahoo Finance Canada

    Regulator proposes new minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages in Canada

    The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions is proposing changes to the qualifying rate on uninsured mortgages.