Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation says residential mortgage debt grew by nine per cent last year compared with a year earlier for the fastest pace of growth since 2008.
The federal housing agency says in its latest report on mortgage trends that the growth was driven by increases in both the value and volume of uninsured mortgages for property buying and refinancings.
Banks saw a 43 per cent increase in new mortgage originations and an increase of 22 per cent for refinances compared with 2020, leading to an additional $400 billion in residential mortgages on their balance sheets, while credit unions added $54 billion.
CMHC says that variable rate mortgages were increasingly favoured last year as the discount on interest rates increased, with the mortgage type growing to 53 per cent in the second half of the year, from 34 per cent of total mortgages in the first half.
The Bank of Canada has however warned that those who recently bought with variable rate mortgages, especially those who stretched to buy a home in the frothy market, could see significant increases in monthly payments on renewal.
CMHC says that the buoyant housing market last year helped push down mortgages in arrears, which fell across all lender types.