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The surprise election of Donald Trump as the next US president could have a number of impacts on the housing market to the north of the border, prominent Canadian economists suggest.
But things might not unfold in the way some expect: with hordes of Americans fleeing the country and relocating in Canada.
“Those stories that there will be a wave of immigrants to Canada — I think that’s nonsense,” says Benjamin Tal, CIBC’s deputy chief economist, in an interview with BuzzBuzzNews this morning. “We’ve seen it before during Reagan, and the impact is marginal,” he explains.
Rather than Americans taking one-way trips to Canada and buying homes to live in themselves, Tal expects a scenario in which foreign-investment activity ramps up “because the US will be less of a welcoming place.”
Trump’s campaign included a widely reported proposal to build a wall along the Mexican border and plans to create an ideological test for Muslims seeking to emigrate to the US as part of what the incoming commander-in-chief calls an “extreme vetting” process.
Tal says the Canadian commercial real estate segment in particular will benefit from more foreign interest as concerned investors shy away from a Trump-led US.
“The net result of this is positive [for Canadian real estate],” he adds. However, Tal expects heightened foreign investment activity to add “another dimension of complexity to the market.”
The CIBC economist wouldn’t be surprised if Ontario responded with policy measures to combat overheating. Tal’s comments follow Minister of Finance for Ontario Charles Sousa’s announcement yesterday that he will be providing details next week for a plan to improve housing affordability in the province.
Like Tal, Robert Kavcic, a senior economist at BMO, is skeptical of the notion that Americans will leave the US en masse for Canada. “That would just kind of be guessing at this point,” he explains. “It’s not going to do anything to change supply and demand fundamentals domestically.”
It could, over the next year or two, lead to slightly higher interest rates in Canada, Kavcic suggests, though he says right now the theory is “kind of a reach for something.”
In this scenario, Canadian rates would “piggyback” Federal Reserve hikes.
These hikes would come after economic growth from Trump’s proposed tax cuts and inflation pressure caused by “potentially more protectionism or higher tariffs,” Kavcic explains.