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Nothing to See Here Folks, RBC Says on Stricter Canadian Mortgages

By Doug Alexander for Bloomberg

Strict new mortgage rules that have helped send Canadian home sales to a five-year low are little more than a flesh wound, according to Royal Bank of Canada.

“We had never really believed that this would be a significant impact on our mortgage business,” Neil McLaughlin, head of Canadian banking at the country’s second-biggest bank said Thursday on an earnings call. “We’re seeing minor skew to the portfolio, but nothing significant.”

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McLaughlin reiterated Royal Bank’s earlier guidance of targeting “mid single-digit” mortgage growth even with a housing slowdown and implementation of tougher mortgage qualifying rules by regulators in January. The measures, known as B-20, require borrowers to qualify at the greater of the Bank of Canada’s five-year benchmark rate or 2 percentage points higher than a bank’s offered mortgage rate. The Bank of Canada rate has jumped 35 basis points this year, to 5.34 percent.

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