Why Canada Doesn't Have a Foreclosure Problem

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Why are Canada's homeowners less likely to face foreclosure? Fewer than 1 percent of Canadian mortgages are in arrears, compared to the 2.9 million homeowners that received foreclosure notices in the U.S. in 2010.

You might think it's because there are a lot fewer Canadians, and you'd be right on that score. Canada's population is just 34.3 million, while the U.S. population now exceeds 307 million. But foreclosure rates are as high as 20 percent in the hardest hit states, so population alone does not explain the difference.

Canada avoided the housing bubble that both the U.S. and the U.K. faced. That's thanks to the more conservative banking practices in Canada. Canada has stricter underwriting standards, and the banks must set aside more money toward potential losses if the market takes a downward turn. Also, Canada has no secondary market for mortgages, like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which means banks can't sell off their risky mortgages, so they don't make them in the first place.