Poll suggest many Canadians unaware mortgage rules have been tightened

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TORONTO — New mortgage rules went into effect Monday in Canada, but a recent survey suggests many people are unfamiliar with the changes.

Starting Monday, borrowers refinancing their mortgages are limited to 80 per cent to the value of the home, down from 85 per cent.

The maximum amortization period dropped to 25 years from 30 years for government insured mortgages _ giving borrowers less time to repay the debt in full.

The federal government also tightened the standards lenders must apply before granting a mortgage.

``For two years now, we've been talking to our customers about the financial implications of carrying debt over the long term and how opting for a maximum 25-year amortization can help them manage and meet their long term goals,'' said Laura Parsons, a mortgage expert at Bank of Montreal.

``The recent changes are prudent, measured, responsible and timely, and will have an effect on how Canadians purchase property, so it's more important now than ever to seek clarity on the current guidelines in place.''

Other changes by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions reduced the limit for home equity lines of credit to 65 per cent of a property's value, down from 80 per cent.

A poll conducted by Pollara for Bank of Montreal found only about half of those surveyed were familiar with the changes brought in by the federal government.

And only 45 per cent of those surveyed June 29 to July 4 were aware that the maximum amortization period has been shortened by five years.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced the new rules on June 21.

Organizations: Bank of Montreal, Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions

Geographic location: TORONTO, Canada

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