Post Category: Research
February 04, 2019
Interest rates raise the bar for home ownership in Q4 2018

In Q4, affordability worsened for a 14th consecutive quarter as measured by the urban
composite index. All but two markets experienced a deterioration stemming from a 20-
basis points increase for residential mortgage rates, hitting harder the priciest markets in
the country (see table on page 12 for more details). Financing costs were up for a sixth
consecutive quarter which marked the longest streak of rises since the period of ’99-‘00.
In Vancouver, home prices are decreasing but it did not prevent affordability to
deteriorate further amid higher interest rates and declining median annual income. In this
city, our measure for the non-condo segment have crossed the psychological threshold
of 100% as it would now require 101.5% of pre-tax median household income to pay for a
representative home. In other words, this segment is even more out of reach for a median
income family. As it is the case in Vancouver, both segments at the national level
experienced a significant deterioration over the past 3 years but the magnitude of the
worsening has been less pronounced for condos (left chart) which could explain why
prices are still running at a solid pace in 2018 (+6.2% y/y vs. 1.2% for non-condos). That
being said, a moderation in the condo segment should not be ruled out in 2019 as stiff
competition is now coming from the rental apartment option.

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