Post Category: Research
November 14, 2019
Home affordability improves for a third consecutive quarter in Q3 2019

The housing affordability composite index reversed back to its historical average in Q3 2019 as all observed markets improved in each of the last three quarters. The most significant factor to this development was the decline in mortgage rates. Indeed, the free-fall in financing costs over the last nine months was the most substantial since 2012 (-87 bps). The booming labour market also played a significant role in this development as income grew at a whopping 5.1% annualized over that period while home prices did not materially change at the national level. While our national housing affordability composite index is now in line with its historical average (43% of median income), it does not mean that the situation is back to normal in all metropolitan areas. Despite some welcome progress in the last three quarters (see chart on the left), the situation remains difficult in the two largest markets by housing market value. In Toronto, both condo and non-condo affordability improved substantially since Q4 2018 but remain above their respective historical averages. In Vancouver, the monthly mortgage payment as a percentage of income has reverted to its Q1 2016 level helped by a cumulative decline of home prices (down 8.1% since their peak). We note that affordability in the condo market in Greater Vancouver is back to its historical average while the non-condo segment remains costlier. Elsewhere in the country, the Montreal market for its part saw a smaller improvement as home prices registered the largest increase following Ottawa-Gatineau. Surging population growth in Canada’s largest metro areas, coupled with leveling mortgage rates should limit the scope for further improvement in home affordability.

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