I was prompted to write this blog after listening closely to a friend I’ve known for several years, and several recent trials with a bank. There is nothing exceptionally weird or unusual about where this story comes from. It’s where it’s going that’s, as far as I can tell, unprecedented. The story starts off of course in a situation where where two spouses are working, or rather, one is and the other isn’t, or between jobs. They have a home with a mortgage in small town Alberta. The relationship goes sour, and one of the spouses who is supposed to be paying the mortgage isn’t. The other one, of course, doesn’t find out until foreclosure is impending.
Except that it isn’t. The bank will not foreclose. But they are using unusual means and methods to try and obtain the remaining amount owing. I will not go into any deeper description here, but you are more than welcome to take a stab at what is going on, or to describe a similar situation yourself, at opinions.caduceusx.com
This story, and some of the legal paperwork that I have seen in it, has prompted me to do some checking into the current foreclosure climate in Canada, and in particular, Alberta. It’s interesting how truly little one can dig up after getting past all the stories of Flaherty changing the mortgage laws in January: Which is expected to force property prices downward this spring.
The foreclosure climate in Canada is one of relative stability. Stability, in that it doesn’t change very much. Since statistics that are available go back to 1990, when the rate was .18% of all mortgages were in arrears, from a total of 1.4 million mortgages, we can observe the historical high (January 1997: .65%) And a never again seen historical low. What is interesting Is that in 1990 there were only 10.1 million households, and 1.4 million mortgages. Fast forward to 2010 and we have 12.4 million households (an increase of just 23%). But 4.1 million mortgages (an increase of 292%) and a tripling of the percentage in arrears (.44%). To top all of this off, the number of mortgages in arrears has gone up 78% nationwide since 2008. (All statistics from Canadian Bankers Association)
That doesn’t sound too good for Canada, but I wanted to check out Alberta’s numbers in particular. So I found the province by province categories, and had a look see.
Atlantic… hmmm… and increase of maybe 17%, pretty small.
Quebec… 71%, there we go, just about the national norm.
Ontario… 25%. That’s really small. They can’t be doing too bad out there…
Manitoba… An increase of just 24%. This recession hasn’t hit them too too bad either.
Saskatchewan? Just 34%.
British Columbia? 338%???? Holy Hannah! Now there’s a province that has been hit hard.
Alberta? ….that can’t be right…. 455%. …
Seems that this recession hasn’t hit anybody quite as hard as those Albertans.
An increase in the monthly total of mortgages in arrears of 455% in a two year period spells disaster for at least one thing: a real estate market. I would go so far as to suggest that it means much, much more. The percentage of mortgages in arrears has nearly quadrupled to lead the nation at .88%.
Even an Albertan Prime Minister will not give Albertans a break. Just because the statistics say we’ve been hit hard, doesn’t mean he won’t do the same thing as all the rest have done. Help out the Ontario Auto Industry, fully insure the banks so that they can do no wrong, and promote something referred to as culture in Quebec. Hell of a thing really.
In November 2010 1 out of every 492 households in recession stricken America had received a foreclosure notice. In December 2010, 1 out of every 299 households in Alberta had received a foreclosure notice. What does this mean for Canada’s major export-revenue and tax-revenue generating province?
It means a heap more trouble than you wished. Especially considering that Canadians are also at a point in credit card delinquency that hasn’t been this high since 1991.
1 extra thing I should note: Although you can dig up all the facts you want on how America’s foreclosure situation is in much worse shape than ours, and in some ways I would agree with you. You have to remember, American statistics are very complete for the most part. The arrears statistics that I have given you for example, show only the numbers accumulated for Canada’s 9 largest banks. Those statistics do not include the information that hundreds of credit union branches may have, for example.
And all things considered, it it has anything to do with Alberta, I’m not certain I would want to know.