Govt in no rush to tighten mortgage rules

“I find it a bit off that some of the bank executives are taking the position that the Minister of Finance or the government somehow should tell them how to run their business,” Jim Flaherty told reporters just outside Ottawa Thursday. “It’s their market. It’s not my market.

“They decide what they want to charge in interest rates.”

While analysts are still parsing through those comments, a consensus is emerging that the government will hold off on further tightening of the country’s mortgage rules, at least for now.

TD’s chief economist, among others, had urged Flaherty to use his budget address next week to announce one of three moves meant to slow down demand for housing.

On Thursday, the Minister hinted at none of those – a shorter amortization, a higher minimum down payment or new stress tests for borrowers.

“With respect to tightening up the mortgage insurance market we’ve done it three times,” he said. “If we have to tighten it some more we will. The new housing market produces a lot of jobs in Canada so there’s a balance that needs to be addressed. I’d like the market to correct itself, quite frankly, if it can.”

That may not please some property investors, quietly hoping for tighter mortgage rules and any uptick in demand for rental units that might result from tougher qualifying terms.

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