Victoria Chelsea on 11 22, 2010
Housing affordability consistent with historic trends
Alberta and Ontario housing prices unlikely to drop sharply
Caution noted for British Columbia
TORONTO, While there is growing speculation that the Canadian housing market is a bubble ready to implode, a new report from BMO Capital Markets Economics asserts that market valuation is only moderately above long-term trends.
“All things considered, the Canadian housing market does not appear to be in a bubble, and is unlikely to suffer a U.S.-style collapse,” said BMO Economists Earl Sweet and Sal Guatieri. “A comparison of the ratio of prices to incomes with the long-term trend suggests Canadian house prices were overvalued by as much as 18 per cent in late 2009. However, a 3 per cent decline in seasonally-adjusted prices so far this year, coupled with continued moderate income growth, has reduced overvaluation to a less worrisome 11 per cent in the third quarter of 2010.”
Commenting on the report, BMO Bank of Montreal Vice President of Lending and Deposit Products, Martin Nel, said, “Due to historically low rates, mortgages remain affordable today. Even with the notable rise in house prices during the past few years, the costs to service an average priced home, including principle and interest, are running close to long-term norms.”
Nel added that with this in mind, Canadians still need to do their homework before making any big decisions.
“Regardless of the market conditions, we advise prospective home buyers to stress test their financial budget using a mortgage payment based on a higher interest rate than what is currently available,” said Nel. “For example, total housing costs, including mortgage payments, property taxes and heating costs, should not consume more than one-third of household income.”
The report does take note of regional differences, with B.C.’s housing market shown to be more overvalued than Ontario’s or Alberta’s. “Unlike these two other provinces, B.C. house prices have continued to trend higher in 2010, reaching new peaks in September,” said the two economists. “Consequently, it likely faces a greater downside risk than other provinces. Valuations in Alberta and Ontario are closer to the current national estimate.”