Post Category: Research
August 12, 2019
Biggest improvement in a decade for housing affordability

Affordability improved in Q2 by the most since 2009 as measured by the urban composite index. All the observed markets registered an amelioration in the quarter (left chart). The most significant factor to this development was the decline in  mortgage rates. Indeed, the free-fall in financings costs was the most substantial since 2010Q3. This combined with a healthy labour market producing income growth on the scale of 1.7% in the quarter and home prices declining 1.0% meant that all inputs contributed to the improvement in housing affordability. Vancouver experienced the largest progression in affordability among urban markets in Q2. Toronto essentially mirrored the situation in Vancouver with a large improvement in the non-condo market and some progress also in the condo market. The decline in mortgage rates combined with a robust labour market reduced the risk of a correction in home prices in the coming months. That being said, there are still some headwinds limiting upside on home prices. Despite the recent progress in Vancouver and Toronto, these markets remain unaffordable on a historical basis (right chart). Moreover, while the contractual mortgage rate declined 68 basis points since last December, the qualifying rate declined only 15 basis points meaning that most potential new buyers excluded by B-20 measures still are.

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Post Category: Research
June 26, 2019
Housing affordability improves in 2019 Q1 amid healthy labour market

Affordability improved in Q1 by the most since 2014 as measured by the urban composite index as eight of the ten urban markets progressed in the quarter (left chart). The healthy labour market was the largest contributor to this development via a significant increase in income (+1.0%) that outpaced the increase in home prices (+0.3%) – left chart. Coincidentally, mortgage rates were not a drag on affordability for the first time in 7 quarters. Vancouver experienced the largest improvement in affordability among urban markets in Q1 but that was mostly due to declining home prices. We continue to expect price weakness in this market as resale conditions remain favourable to buyers in both the condo and non-condo segments so far in Q2. In Toronto, the composite is showing a slight improvement but this is solely due to the non-condo segment. Indeed, condo market affordability deteriorated further with prices jumping 2.0% in Q1 as the imbalance between supply and demand favoured sellers. Looking ahead, there is hope for further improvement in affordability in Canada in Q2 given the recent drop in mortgage rates.

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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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Post Category: Research
November 15, 2018
Housing affordability worsens again in Q3 2018

In Q3, affordability worsened in no less than 9 out of ten urban markets which explains the
13th consecutive deterioration of our urban composite index. Expensive housing markets
such as Vancouver and Toronto slowed down markedly in 2018 and home prices even
declined in Q3 due to the combined effect of rising mortgage rates (up for a fifth consecutive
quarter) and macro prudential measures. Despite lower home prices, homebuyer
affordability failed to improve as wages were down in those markets (left chart). Elsewhere,
Montreal and Ottawa-Gatineau experienced the sharpest deteriorations in affordability
among urban centers in Q3 but for another reason: home prices surged respectively by 2.1%
and 2.5% Q/Q. These markets appear to be unaffected by rising interest rates and tighter
credit standards as shown by resale market conditions being strongly tilted in favor of sellers.
Looking at the national picture, while a significant portion of home buyers have been priced
out of single-family homes, demand is currently strong for condos as shown by prices rising
6.8% over the past year (non-condo prices are flat). As a result, the affordability deterioration
was more pronounced in this segment (vs. non-condo) in each of the last four quarters (right

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Post Category: Research
September 12, 2018
Affordability erodes again in Q2

Mortgage interest rates were on the rise for a fourth consecutive quarter in Q2. As a
result, affordability worsened in no less than 7 out of ten urban markets which explains
the 12th consecutive deterioration of our urban composite index. Unsurprisingly, the rise
in interest rates hit harder for the priciest markets in the country (left chart). Thankfully,
income gains in British Columbia mitigated the impact on affordability for its two major
cities. Nevertheless, Victoria experienced a sharp deterioration in both condo and noncondo
segments as prices continue to swell despite more restrictive lending standards
imposed by OSFI since January. The slowdown in the resale market has begun to
impact prices in Vancouver and Toronto during the quarter. Indeed, home prices
experienced their weakest gain in almost four years in Vancouver while Toronto posted
a decline. That being said, both cities remain a painful environment for new homebuyers
(right chart) and this is unlikely to change in the short term as central banks remain in a
tightening mode.

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Post Category: Research
February 14, 2018
Vancouver again drove the Composite in January

OPINION: Just like it did the prior month, Vancouver drove the Composite index in January – without Vancouver, the Composite index would have retreated for a fifth month in a row (top chart). On a y/y basis, Vancouver’s index for condos surged 23.0%, while the index for other types of dwellings rose 13.5%. The fact is that Vancouver’s home resale market remained tight even after the introduction of a tax on acquisitions by foreigners (middle chart). The same cannot be said of Toronto, where the market turned from tight to balanced after the introduction of a similar tax last April. Toronto’s index was nevertheless up in January for the first time in six months, after the unsmoothed index (see note on methodology on next page) rose for a third month in a row (bottom chart). This firming of home prices in Toronto might reflect a rush to buy with pre-approved mortgages granted before more stringent rules on qualification for an uninsured mortgages were applied starting January 1st. With further increases in mortgage rates still to come (according to CMHC, posted 5y rates were at 4.14% in January against a low of 3.59% last May), it is premature to conclude that home prices have definitely turned the corner in Toronto.

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Post Category: Research
January 11, 2018
Housing starts come back to earth in December

OPINION: Housing starts declined sharply in the last month of 2017 but still managed to beat consensus expectations (211K). A retracement was always in the cards after the unsustainable figure posted in November (251.7K). A good chunk of the decline in December stemmed from an expected fall in multi-unit starts in Ontario (-34.0K) after the latter reached an all-time high in the previous month. Excluding that category, housing starts countrywide were roughly flat month on month. Looking at quarterly data, starts advanced an annualized 13.5% in the fourth quarter, following a +35.6% print in Q3. Despite that jump, it is hard to know whether or not residential construction contributed to economic growth in Q4. True, quarterly data showed a marked increase in multiple starts (+35.8% annualized), but ground-breakings for single units, whose per-unit contribution to GDP is greater, slumped 28.6% in annualized terms. One thing is for sure: 2017 has truly been a banner year for residential construction in the country, with starts totaling 220.5K, the best figure in ten years. Such a performance is unlikely to be repeated in 2018. Indeed, with the implementation of the new B-20 guidelines for mortgage lending, and considering that the Bank of Canada

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Post Category: Research
December 12, 2017
You get a house, I get a house, we all get a house

November Housing Starts

FACTS: Housing starts reached 252.2K units in November,
rising 29.5K (13.2%) from the level in October (top chart).
The monthly increase can be explained by a 25.3K (16.9%)
advance for multiple starts in urban areas, which
complemented the smaller rise for singles – the latter grew
4.2K (7.5%) to 60.4K. Rural starts, for their part, edged
slightly down 0.1K (-0.4%) to 16.8K. Starts declined in
British Columbia (-8.5K), Quebec (-5.4K), Saskatchewan (-
1.3K) and New Brunswick (-0.9K) but those were more than
offset by gains in Ontario (+37.9K), Alberta (+4.8K),
Manitoba (+1.5K), Nova Scotia (+1.2K).

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Post Category: Research
November 15, 2017
Resale home prices fell again in October

OPINION: The last two monthly declines in the Composite index are mostly due to Toronto (top chart), but there are signs that the downward pressure on prices in that city is fading. For instance, its unsmoothed index (see note on methodology next page) fell 0.7% in October after declining 3.7% in August and 2.1% in September (middle chart). Following the introduction last April of a tax on foreigners’ acquisitions, market conditions (as depicted by the active-listings-to-sales ratio) loosened in Toronto. But they went from extremely tight to balanced (active-listings-to-sales close to its long-term average – bottom chart). Furthermore, market conditions have stabilized over the last few months. Balanced and stable market conditions support the view that downward pressure on home prices is fading in that city. Market conditions evolving from tight to balanced is a positive development for affordability. Unfortunately, this cannot be said of Vancouver, where conditions remained tight despite the implementation in August 2016 of a tax on foreigners’ acquisitions. In the latter city, prices of condos (the most affordable category of dwellings) rose more than 17% over the last 12 months.

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Post Category: Research
November 15, 2017
October housing starts surprise on the upside

OPINION: Housing starts were better than consensus expectations in October. Following a drop in September, Canadian residential construction increased and continued to perpetuate a level that is higher than demographic needs (estimated to be around 190K). Starts in the Toronto market dropped over 20% after a 34% drop the prior month. A more normal level of the active listings to sales ratio in that city (a measure of the resale market) helps contextualize decays in residential construction (middle chart).

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For further information about upcoming reports, please contact:

Kan Zhu
Leader, Data & Advisory Solutions
Teranet Inc.
Phone: 416-360-8863 x 2270
Michael Pertsis
Director, Mortgage Derivatives
National Bank Financial
Phone: 416.869.7124