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August 20, 2020
Mixed signals in the pandemic housing-market

The progression in the Composite index last month was the lowest for a month of July in 15 years. This marks a second month of signs that the economic lockdown had an impact on slowing activity in the housing market. It should be noted that the official Teranet-National Bank House Price Index is smoothed using a 3-month moving average and employs land registry data. This means that it currently reflects home price evolution while the sector was still on slow motion. The seasonally adjusted raw index for July is rather showing a 0.9% rebound following two consecutive declines, a development consistent with the strong rebound in home sales happening since April. Does this mean that the housing market will be spared from difficulties in this recession? Not so fast. Pent-up demand accumulated during confinement boosted June and July sales numbers. A look at the 5-month moving average shows that activity on the resale market was rather weak since March. In that sense, we still think that the housing market is facing some challenges. Indeed, households have not yet suffered the consequences of the current economic difficulties. Consumers have benefited from deferred debt payments, and the income assistance programs established by the various levels of government have more than offset labour market losses. The end of those programs and a still healing labour market could mean some headwinds for the housing market at some point.

August 2020

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