On January 17th, the federal government announced rule changes for all government-backed insured mortgages. The changes are fairly minor and are meant to ensure that responsible lending practices are used. This will further strengthen Canada’s international creditability and the stability of our banking system. These new guidelines come into effect on March 18th and April 18th of this year. As of March 18, 2011 the amortization periods for mortgages will be reduced from the current maximum length of 35 years down to 30 years. The ability to have a 35 year amortization period has been a fairly recent development and the return to 30 years is more historical. Also on March 18th re-financing of existing mortgages will be adjusted so that the borrower can only finance up to 85% of the value of the property. This is an adjustment from the current 90% of value lending rule. On April 18, 2011 government insurance will not be available to financial institutions who insure home equity lines of credit. To see if these new rules will impact your purchasing or seller decision, please contact one of our knowledgeable real estate advisors.