Canadian Real Estate: A Soft Landing or Something Worse?

Posted on 19. Jul, 2010 by in News

As the housing market cools, here are the views of four economists.

Michael Babad, Globe and Mail Update Published on Thursday, Jul. 15, 2010 2:37PM EDT

Housing market pace slows
Canada’s housing market is cooling off after its record-setting pace in the post-recession period. The Canadian Real Estate Association said today existing home sales fell 8.2 per cent in June from a month earlier, largely because of a slower pace in Toronto and Calgary. The national average resale price dipped 1.2 per cent, to $342,662, from May’s record $346,881. That’s still almost 5 per cent above last year’s prices. Here are the views of four economists:

Adrienne Warren, Bank of Nova Scotia: “We expect to see a further slowing in sales over the second half of the year as interest rates gradually drift up. (It should be noted, however, that sales are still at a historically high level despite this year’s pullback, supported by improving employment conditions and still-low borrowing costs.) While this in turn will likely put some further modest downward pressure on prices, listings are also beginning to trend lower, which will help to maintain a fairly healthy balance between buyers and sellers.”

David Rosenberg, Gluskin Sheff + Associates: “The Canadian housing market at one point during last year’s parabolic surge in sales and pricing got as much as 20 per cent overvalued. In recent months, demand has weakened under the weight of eroding homeowner affordability. At the same time, the rush of new construction has elevated the supply side of the equation. and so what falls out these shifting demand and supply curves is a reduction in prices – the long awaited correction is here. Remember – excesses in one direction are generally followed by excesses in the other direction. And bubbles never correct by going sideways. In a nutshell, there’s more air to come out of this Canadian housing balloon.”

Douglas Porter, BMO Nesbitt Burns: “By some appearances, Canadian home sales have done their best impression of a capsized canoe in the wake of the new tighter mortgage insurance rules and the modest back-up in borrowing costs in the spring. Sales were also front-end loaded in 2010 ahead of the [harmonized sales tax] and are now in rapid reverse. While the headlines may look soggy for the next few months, there are reasons to believe the market could soon regain its balance – long-term mortgage rates have dropped, employment remains on a roll, and prices have stabilized.”

Pascal Gauthier, Toronto-Dominion Bank: “After improving markedly in 2008, home affordability eroded significantly in 2009. With the typical lag, this is naturally slowing the pace of sales. Nonetheless, the housing market slowdown should be cushioned by an improving employment and income picture. The level of interest rates remains quite supportive of sales activity, and rising interest rates would only occur against a stronger overall economic backdrop.”

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