Bank of Canada – Cautions Real Estate Price at Elevated Level

Readers may download the entire report from Source: Bank of Canada.  A few worth-mentioning points:

– A home purchase triggers the biggest liability most families will ever take on.  The value of housing-related debt in Canada has nearly tripled over the past decade to $1.3 trillion.  This debt is also the single largest exposure for Canadian financial institutions, with real estate loans making up more than 40 per cent of the assets of Canadian banks, up from about 30 per cent a decade ago.

– Financial vulnerabilities have increased as a result. Canadians are now as indebted (relative to their income) as the Americans and the British (Chart 9). The Bank estimates that the proportion of Canadian households that would be highly vulnerable to an adverse economic shock has risen to its highest level in nine years, despite improving economic conditions and the ongoing low level of interest rates.5

– Domestic demand factors are not the only forces at work.  Some Asian wealth is being invested in selected international housing markets as those investors seek out diversification and hard assets. This has become a familiar phenomenon in this city. Partly as a consequence, the average selling price of a home in Vancouver is now nearly 11 times the average Vancouver family’s household income, a multiple similar to those seen in Hong Kong and Sydney—cities that have also become part of a more globalized real estate market.  Such valuations are extreme in both Canada and globally (Chart 16).

– While measures of housing affordability remain favourable, this is largely because interest rates are unusually low. Rates will not remain at their current levels forever. The impact of eventual increases is likely to be greater than in previous cycles, given the higher stock of debt owed by Canadian households. At a 4 per cent real mortgage interest rate—equivalent to the average rate since 1995—affordability falls to its worst level in 16 years (Chart 17).10 As I have observed, some markets are already severely unaffordable even at current rates.

Source: Bank of Canada

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