The number of Canadians filing for either a consumer proposal or bankruptcy that owned a home fell to just 7% at the end of May 2017 from an all-time high of 35% in February 2011. This might sound like good news, but not when we look under the headline. Credit is the most important cycle and the debt expansion this time has continued much longer than most. Canadians were already highly-indebted by 2011, but rapidly rising home prices the past couple of years have allowed them to sustain the unsustainable a while longer through refinancing and second mortgages. This has left them (and the banks) even more financially fragile and vulnerable as we stare into the next cyclical downturn in the global economy. See Canadians are using second mortgages to avoid [Delay] bankruptcy:
Hoyes Michalos has a very simple explanation for that, Canadians are using their homes like ATMs, withdrawing equity. “Homeowners with significant unsecured debt are currently able to refinance this debt through a second mortgage or home equity line of credit (HELOC)” claims Hoyes Michalos. There’s 1.91 million Canadians with HELOCs, and even more with a second mortgage. Not exactly signs of booming incomes that would be the ideal reason to see delinquencies decline.
They warn that any softening of the market that results in a correction of home values will result in a sudden spike in homeowners filing for insolvency. They go on to warn if this combines with “even a modest rise in interest rates…we could see this index rise above levels experienced after the 2009 recession.”