Mortgage fraud emerging among millennials – survey

Rising home prices and intense social pressure to own a home may be convincing young Canadians that it’s fine to lie on mortgage applications, according to a new survey by credit rating agency Equifax.

Equifax found that 23% of millennials feel it’s acceptable to lie about their income on a mortgage application. Among millennial respondents, 19% admitted to falsifying information on a loan application, compared to 12% of respondents overall.

It’s hard to say why millennials are more open to mortgage fraud, but it likely has to do with the pressure to buy a home in some markets, said Julie Kuzmic, Equifax Canada’s director of consumer advocacy.

“People are concerned they might miss out, and if they don’t qualify for the home they’re hoping for, they may never be able to buy a home,” Kuzmic told HuffPost.

Homebuyers may also feel that lending standards are too tight. Almost half (48%) agreed that the country should loosen the mortgage stress test, while only 34% want to keep it as is, the survey found.

“People might see themselves as a responsible borrower, they may feel lender guidelines are too strict, that they would be fine carrying a higher amount of debt,” Kuzmic said.

However, higher levels of debt come with higher levels of risk.

“One of the things that [doesn’t] occur to people right away is the risk of higher interest rates…,” Kuzmic said. “There is [also] a risk that the person will have unexpected expenses, that homeownership turns out to be more expensive than they expected. ... And that’s not to include some of the more catastrophic events like job loss or health issues.”

The survey also found that 61% believe foreign buyers are the primary reason for high home prices. A larger majority (78%) believe that the government should help homebuyers, with 70% saying that the focus should be on first-time homebuyers.

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