Photo: Rhett Maxwell/Flickr
Even as Canadian homebuyers are coughing up more cash for a crib, they won’t have to worry about a looming bubble crashing the housing party, according to the head of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp (CMHC).
Evan Siddall, the CEO of CMHC, said at a conference held in Montreal Friday that the national housing agency isn’t “overly” worried about a housing bubble at this point in time.
CMHC uses a tool called the Housing Price Analysis and Assessment (HPAA) framework to monitor the market for potential risk factors, including the overheating of demand, acceleration in prices, overvaluation in prices and over-building.
Siddall said the HPAA’s current reading shows that despite some overvaluation–which he says is normal–there are no immediate concerns to the national housing market, adding that CMHC would survive a 2008-2009 U.S.-type housing and financial crisis if that were to occur in Canada.
“Our analysis suggests that we have sufficient capital to withstand a severe and prolonged economic recession,” he said.
Siddall further noted that while Canadian housing prices will moderate, CMHC is considering its next moves in the event that they are wrong and price growth remains strong or accelerates.
Indeed, Siddall cautioned that CMHC’s forecast tool, while sophisticated, makes its predictions based on the assumption that “the world of the future will unfold like the world of the past,” which, he notes, isn’t always the case.
This is how Canadian housing bubble fears have played out since we last checked in:
May: National home sales exceed four-year record
National home sales rose 5.9 per cent between April and May 2014, the largest month-over-month sales increase in almost four years.
Year-over-year, actual sales also saw a spike, rising 4.8 per cent above May 2013 and 3.8 per cent above the 10-year average for the month.
Growth in home prices saw no signs of slowing down, though big cities pulled up the national average (the largest sales increases were recorded in Calgary, Greater Toronto and Montreal).
June: TD predicts housing slowdown
TD Bank’s quarterly economic forecast predicted a slowdown in the Canadian housing market would put a drag on household spending and construction over the next two years.
The bank said although home-sale activity would be boosted in the short-term by a decline in mortgage rates and a pick-up in listings after a severe winter, the acceleration would likely not last.
July: Fitch Ratings airs concerns about the state of the market
After what seemed like an unstoppable spring for the Canadian housing market–which reported price increases both nationwide and across major markets, including Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary–the global rating agency Fitch Ratings reported Canadian home prices were approximately 20 per cent overvalued in real terms.
The number is based on Fitch’s sustainable home price model, which measures home prices relative to long-term fundamentals.
August: Banks question how long strong housing trend can last
The six-month trend was positive–even after a slight slip in Canadian housing starts in August–causing some banks to question the market’s sustainability.
“Although the housing party continues for now, it can’t last forever,” TD economist Brian DePratto wrote. “We expect the rate of housing starts to gradually decline, as there is some evidence of overbuilding, particularly in the multiples segment.”
2015: RBC forecasts housing cool down for Canada
RBC Economics said in an August report that “strained affordability” and rising interest rates would cool down sales in the market in 2015.
The bank said the low interest rates Canadians have been enjoying for years were unsustainable and longer term rates would begin to rise as the Bank of Canada tightens up conditions in 2015.
RBC dispelled the idea, however, that the country is headed for a crash.