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Mortgage debt grew at its fastest pace since 2008: CMHC

Record-low interest rates drove mortgage debt 9% higher on an annual basis in 2021, its fastest pace since 2008.

That pace of growth continued in the first two months of 2022, with year-over-year growth topping 10.6%, according to new data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

In its bi-annual Residential Mortgage Industry Report, CMHC said the acceleration in mortgage borrowing was driven by increases in uninsured mortgages for both purchases and refinancing.

Chartered banks saw new mortgage originations rise 43% compared to 2020, while refinances were up 22%. That translated into roughly $400 billion worth of residential mortgages being added to their balance sheets, CMHC said.

Meanwhile, credit unions added $54 billion worth of new residential mortgage debt to their portfolios.

Majority of Canadians took variable rates in 2021

With variable rates falling well below fixed rates in 2021, a majority of new borrowers (53%) opted for floating rates in the second half of the year, according to CMHC’s data. That was up from 34% in the first half.

It appears the share of variable mortgages reached a peak in January of 2022, with 56.9% of new mortgages being variable-rate products.

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