Around one-in-five mortgages in Alberta remains in deferral, the highest rate of any province in the country, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
CMHC president and CEO Evan Siddall said in a tweet on Tuesday that as of July, 21 per cent of mortgages in Alberta were deferred.
The next highest deferral rates were in Saskatchewan and Newfoundland, tied at 14.8 per cent.
“Deferrals in oil-producing regions are evidently elevated,” he wrote.
Quebec had the lowest rate at 5.6 per cent.
Siddall said around 11 per cent of all homeowner transactional insured mortgages are in deferral across the country, and that factors like unemployment rates and government supports will play a role in deferrals and house prices going forward.
Low oil prices had already hit Alberta’s economy hard before the coronavirus pandemic.
The Conference Board of Canada forecasts Alberta will see its economy shrink by a historic seven per cent this year.
Justin Havre with RE/MAX says the Alberta deferral numbers don’t come as much of a surprise.
“I think Albertans have gone through some tough times,” said Havre.
“We typically don’t have the opportunity to defer mortgage payments when there is a collapse in energy payments and when the opportunity was available to get mortgages deferred here in Alberta, I think a lot of people took the opportunity to preserve their cash because nobody really knew with this pandemic how long it would go on and what was going to come of it.”
Havre said he would encourage anyone having trouble making payments to be proactive, and speak with their bank and insurer.
“Don’t wait — take action now to find a solution, and if the solution has to be that you put your house up on the market, then you may want to start acting on that now while we have the activity in the marketplace, because our market typically does slow down when snow hits the ground.”
In May, Siddall had warned a House of Commons committee that the country could see a “deferral cliff” when some unemployed people are required to begin paying their mortgages again this fall.