In May the Teranet–National Bank National Composite House Price IndexTM was up 1.1% from the previous month, a rise equal to the average for May over the last 10 years. Leading that countrywide average were the metropolitan markets of Ottawa-Gatineau (2.2%), Toronto (2.1%), Halifax (1.8%) and Hamilton (1.6%). Advances lagging the countrywide average were reported […]
There are two signs that data from land registries reflect the slowdown in home sales activity that started in the second half of March. The first is the 22% y/y decline in the number of sales pairs from which May indexes were derived. This was the largest y/y decline since April 2013 and a clear break in the upward trend that was taking place earlier. There were declines in sales pairs in all the 11 metropolitan areas. The second sign is the slowdown in the seasonally adjusted raw Composite index, which rose only 0.2% in May after three months of gains topping 0.8%. The raw index declined or was unchanged in five of the eleven constituent metropolitan areas. In our view, declines in home prices lie ahead. The Canadian unemployment rate went from 5.6% in February to 13.7% in May, and is expected to remain elevated at least up to the end of next year. In this context, demand for housing may decrease due to a reduction in immigration and would-be first-time homebuyers not being able to qualify for a mortgage loan. At the opposite, supply may be fuelled by homeowners unable to meet mortgage payments and for that reason will look to sell their home.
Housing affordability in Canada’s large urban centres improved in the first quarter of 2020. Although mortgage interest rates remained essentially unchanged from Q4 to 2019, an increase in income was able to offset the rise of home prices for the urban composite. The latter registered a second consecutive 1.5% gain in prices in the quarter. But this is now old news as the economy has entered a recession which could significantly shake the Canadian housing market and therefore affordability. Interest rates are unlikely to provide much relief for homebuyers as they have in previous economic crisis’. Indeed, interest rates were already very low before the crisis, and give zero lower bound for central banks, they have very little room to move lower. The 5-year mortgage rate has declined only 17 basis points from the beginning of the present crisis, which is very little compared to the declines of other recessions. Moreover, incomes should face some headwinds as we expect the unemployment rate to hover near 9% over the coming year with production capacity being destroyed due to the current lockdown. In such a context, we foresee a marked drop in home prices, about 10% nationally, sharper than in any of the country’s last three recessions. Of course, this scenario assumes that the CMHC refrains from raising the minimum down payment as suggested on May 15th. In our vie, such a policy in the context of a recession would amplify the risk of home-price deflation by excluding potential homebuyers.
The streak of improvements in home affordability in major Canadian urban centers came to
an end after three quarters with a slight deterioration in Q4 2019. While mortgage interest
rates were essentially unchanged from Q3, income growth was unable to keep pace with the
rise in home prices for the urban composite. The later registered its strongest increase in more than 2 years. Among the 10 urban centers covered, only Vancouver and Winnipeg saw income
increasing faster than housing prices during the quarter. Vancouver was the only market
showing an improvement in affordability, the monthly mortgage payment as a percentage of
income registering a fourth consecutive decline, a first since 2008-2009 when the global
economy was mired in a recession. While our national housing affordability composite index
stands on the cusp of its two-decade average, we note significant divergence in affordability
among urban centers. Indeed, despite some ameliorations over the past year, the Vancouver,
Toronto and Hamilton markets are still exhibiting affordability concerns while all other markets are either in-line with their historical norms or even better. The widespread improvement in affordability occurred in 2019 thanks to an 85 basis points decline in mortgage interest rates and one of the smallest increases in home prices among OECD countries (+1.2%, see chart page 13). That said, we doubt that a further improvement in home affordability is possible at this point as we see interest rates levelling off and home prices should accelerate given tight supply in the resale market. Indeed, the national active listings to sales ratio is at its lowest since 2007Q2, a level generally associated with worsening affordability.
In April the Teranet–National Bank National Composite House Price Index™ was up 1.3% from the previous month. As in February and March, that was double the average gain of the last 10 Aprils. Leading the countrywide average rise were the metropolitan markets of Ottawa-Gatineau (2.4%), Toronto (2.0%), Halifax (1.8%), Montreal (1.7%), Victoria (1.2%), Hamilton (1.1%) […]
Based on home sales reported in land registries, resale prices rose at the fastest rate for a month of April since 2010. Moreover, if we consider the 11 metropolitan areas included in the Composite index and 14 other metropolitan areas for which a HPI is available, the index increased in 22 of these 25 regions, the highest diffusion of monthly gains in nine months. Of course, given that the Canadian economy entered into a recession following sanitary measures taken in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is not likely that this momentum will persist. The Canadian unemployment rate went from 5.6% in February to 13% in April, and is expected to remain elevated at least up to the end of next year. In this context, demand for housing may decrease due to a reduction in immigration and would-be first-time homebuyers not being able to qualify for a mortgage loan. At the opposite, supply may be fueled by homeowners unable to meet mortgage payments and for that reason will look to sell their home. In other words, a lasting high unemployment rate could mean downward pressure on house prices.
In March the Teranet–National Bank National Composite House Price IndexTM was up 0.6% from the previous month. As was the case in February, this was double the average March rise of the last 10 years. Leading the advance were the markets of Ottawa-Gatineau (1.1%), Vancouver (1.0%) and Toronto (0.9%). Trailing the countrywide average were rises […]
At the national level, resale home prices were still gaining momentum in March. But this is based on home sales reported in land registries. Home sales reported by real estate boards are timelier, being recorded soon after the sale becomes unconditional. The most important real estate boards all mentioned a clear break of activity during the second half of March due to measures to contain propagation of COVID-19. This was confirmed when CREA reported a monthly drop in home sales from February to March in 25 of the 26 major Canadian markets, with sharp declines in most of the markets covered by the Teranet-National Bank HPI. This cooling of activity should soon be reflected on the house price indexes. We expect the loss of momentum to be more prevalent in the metropolitan markets located in Central and Eastern Canada (Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa-Gatineau, Montreal and Halifax) which so far have pulled the national HPI up.
At the national level, resale home prices were gaining momentum in February. The 0.4% monthly gain in the Composite index was double the average of the previous ten years for a month of February. In particular, after 12 consecutive monthly declines, Vancouver HPI rose in each of the last five months, reflecting the fact that Vancouver resale market recently returned to balance. Sure, we still saw weakness in other regions, such as the Prairie Provinces (Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan) where markets were still favorable to buyers. But CREA just reported a rather generalized increase in home sales in February, including for Calgary and Edmonton. Unfortunately, then came the outbreak of Covid-19 and its impact on oil prices and disruptions in the supply chain. The unprecedented sanitary measures imposed by the authorities to tackle the pandemic will severely impact business activity and jobs over the coming months. In that situation, the home resale market should be heavily curtailed for the coming months.
In February the Teranet–National Bank National Composite House Price IndexTM was up 0.4% from the previous month, a rise that was double the average of the last 10 Februarys. Component indexes were up for seven of the 11 markets surveyed – Montreal 1.1%, Vancouver 0.8%, Halifax 0.8%, Toronto 0.4%, Victoria 0.2%, Winnipeg 0.1% and Ottawa-Gatineau […]