Canada’s top banking regulator is changing the rules that cover certain types of home loans to make sure that lenders and borrowers are able to stay on top of their obligations at a time when the country’s housing market is looking vulnerable.

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OFSI) is implementing new guidelines for certain types of real estate loans, including shared equity mortgages, reverse mortgages and conventional mortgages that are paired with revolving credit lines.

The biggest change targets so-called combined loans, which are conventional mortgage loans paired with revolving lines of credit known as HELOCs that home owners can dip into as they see fit, without being obligated to pay that portion back on any sort of schedule.

The new regulations will kick in once a readvanceable loan exceeds 65 per cent of the underlying home’s value. Currently, an owner can technically borrow up to 80 per cent on such a loan, but the new rules will functionally ratchet that ceiling down to 65 per cent by forcing the borrower to start paying back some of the principal if they go above that line.

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