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Canadian Housing is Being Propped Up by Just One City [Chart]

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Canadian Housing is Being Propped Up by Just One City [Chart]

Canadian Housing is Being Propped Up by Just One City

Without Vancouver’s gains, the market would have dipped -1.1% in February 2016

The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.

“Markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent.” – John Maynard Keynes

The last time we gave a good run down of Canada’s housing market was in May 2015, when we noted that The Economist gave it the dubious title of the most overvalued housing market in the world. Since then, in just 10 months, prices in Vancouver and Toronto have soared to marks that are 14.1% and 8.7% higher respectively.

Frothy prices, million-dollar shacks, and buying frenzies have prompted world-class short-sellers to come out of the woodwork. For a speculator such as Marc Cohodes, who advises hedge funds on Wall Street that want to bet against the Canadian housing market, this type of classic bubble behavior is music to his ears.

“The cross currents are beyond crazy in Vancouver — it’s a mix of money laundering, speculation, low interest rates,” says Cohodes, who was once profiled as Wall Street’s highest-profile short-seller by the New York Times. “A house is something you live in, but in Vancouver you guys are trading them like the penny stocks on Howe Street.”

Mr. Cohodes has recently said that Canadian real estate has reached “peak insanity”, and it’s part of the reason that investors around the world are trying to find a way to bet against the market.

Home Capital Group, one of Canada’s largest financial institutions, was one of the most-shorted stocks last year on Canadian exchanges. The same alternative mortgage lender recently also came under scrutiny for suspending 45 of its brokers for falsifying borrower income.

Dominos Falling

Just as falling oil prices helped to drag the Canadian dollar down, the “lower for longer” price environment for crude has had a similar effect on house prices in the Prairies. Homes in Fort McMurray, the epicenter of the Canadian oil sands, have crashed an average of $117,000 in just a year.

Meanwhile, price tags in the once-strong housing market of Calgary have declined from their peak in October 2014 by -5.4%. The city, which is a financial center for Canadian energy, is bracing for a particular tough year ahead as well. Houses are spending more time on the market, and sales volume and prices continue to fall.

But it’s not just Canada’s oilpatch that is starting to see the writing on the wall. Toronto, which has helped to buoy the rest of the country’s housing growth for years, has also started to cool down.

According to the Teranet – National Bank House Price Index, prices have risen just 0.3% since October in Canada’s largest real estate market. With the prospect of rising interest rates in the future, it’s not expected to heat back up, either. In fact, TD Bank expects that Toronto will have a “moderate” decline in 2017.

And Then There was One…

For investors bullish on near-term gains in Canada’s housing sector, there is one last hope that resides on the West Coast.

Vancouver’ housing market sailed again in February, shooting up a record 3.2% in just one month. This is the best month for the market since August 2006. It was so good, in fact, that it single-handedly propped up Canada’s national index for housing.

Canada’s market as a whole saw gains of 0.6% in the month, but it would have dropped to a lacklustre -1.1% without the inclusion of Vancouver in the 11-city index.

The only problem?

The city, which has been a primary beneficiary of rampant foreign buying, is continually cited as the market most ripe for a deep correction, as it continues to defy all common sense.

While Keynes is right in that markets can remain irrational for longer than one can stay solvent, it seems that Canadian housing has turned a corner: regional markets in other parts of the country have stumbled, and the last remaining pillar is Vancouver.

It may continue to buck the trend for now, but it is a wobbly pillar at best.

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Real Estate

Mapped: The Growth in House Prices by Country

Global house prices were resilient in 2022, rising 6%. We compare nominal and real price growth by country as interest rates surged.

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The Growth in House Prices by Country

Mapped: The Growth in House Prices by Country

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Global housing prices rose an average of 6% annually, between Q4 2021 and Q4 2022.

In real terms that take inflation into account, prices actually fell 2% for the first decline in 12 years. Despite a surge in interest rates and mortgage costs, housing markets were noticeably stable. Real prices remain 7% above pre-pandemic levels.

In this graphic, we show the change in residential property prices with data from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS).

The Growth in House Prices, Ranked

The following dataset from the BIS covers nominal and real house price growth across 58 countries and regions as of the fourth quarter of 2022:

Price Growth
Rank
Country /
Region
Nominal Year-over-Year
Change (%)
Real Year-over-Year
Change (%)
1🇹🇷 Türkiye167.951.0
2🇷🇸 Serbia23.17.0
3🇷🇺 Russia23.19.7
4🇲🇰 North Macedonia20.61.0
5🇮🇸 Iceland20.39.9
6🇭🇷 Croatia17.33.6
7🇪🇪 Estonia16.9-3.0
8🇮🇱 Israel16.811.0
9🇭🇺 Hungary16.5-5.1
10🇱🇹 Lithuania16.0-5.5
11🇸🇮 Slovenia15.44.2
12🇧🇬 Bulgaria13.4-3.2
13🇬🇷 Greece12.23.7
14🇵🇹 Portugal11.31.3
15🇬🇧 United Kingdom10.0-0.7
16🇸🇰 Slovak Republic9.7-4.8
17
🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates
9.62.9
18🇵🇱 Poland9.3-6.9
19🇱🇻 Latvia9.1-10.2
20🇸🇬 Singapore8.61.9
21🇮🇪 Ireland8.6-0.2
22🇨🇱 Chile8.2-3.0
23🇯🇵 Japan7.93.9
24🇲🇽 Mexico7.9-0.1
25🇵🇭 Philippines7.7-0.2
26🇺🇸 United States7.10.0
27🇨🇿 Czechia6.9-7.6
28🇷🇴 Romania6.7-7.5
29🇲🇹 Malta6.3-0.7
30🇨🇾 Cyprus6.3-2.9
31🇨🇴 Colombia6.3-5.6
32🇱🇺 Luxembourg5.6-0.5
33🇪🇸 Spain5.5-1.1
34🇨🇭 Switzerland5.42.4
35🇳🇱 Netherlands5.4-5.3
36🇦🇹 Austria5.2-4.8
37🇫🇷 France4.8-1.2
38🇧🇪 Belgium4.7-5.7
39🇹🇭 Thailand4.7-1.1
40🇿🇦 South Africa3.1-4.0
41🇮🇳 India2.8-3.1
42🇮🇹 Italy2.8-8.0
43🇳🇴 Norway2.6-3.8
44🇮🇩 Indonesia2.0-3.4
45🇵🇪 Peru1.5-6.3
46🇲🇾 Malaysia1.2-2.6
47🇰🇷 South Korea-0.1-5.0
48🇲🇦 Morocco-0.1-7.7
49🇧🇷 Brazil-0.1-5.8
50🇫🇮 Finland-2.3-10.2
51🇩🇰 Denmark-2.4-10.6
52🇦🇺 Australia-3.2-10.2
53🇩🇪 Germany-3.6-12.1
54🇸🇪 Sweden-3.7-13.7
55🇨🇳 China-3.7-5.4
56🇨🇦 Canada-3.8-9.8
57🇳🇿 New Zealand-10.4-16.5
58🇭🇰 Hong Kong SAR-13.5-15.1

Türkiye’s property prices jumped the highest globally, at nearly 168% amid soaring inflation.

Real estate demand has increased alongside declining interest rates. The government drastically cut interest rates from 19% in late 2021 to 8.5% to support a weakening economy.

Many European countries saw some of the highest price growth in nominal terms. A strong labor market and low interest rates pushed up prices, even as mortgage rates broadly doubled across the continent. For real price growth, most countries were in negative territory—notably Sweden, Germany, and Denmark.

Nominal U.S. housing prices grew just over 7%, while real price growth halted to 0%. Prices have remained elevated given the stubbornly low supply of inventory. In fact, residential prices remain 45% above pre-pandemic levels.

How Do Interest Rates Impact Property Markets?

Global house prices boomed during the pandemic as central banks cut interest rates to prop up economies.

Now, rates have returned to levels last seen before the Global Financial Crisis. On average, rates have increased four percentage points in many major economies. Roughly three-quarters of the countries in the BIS dataset witnessed negative year-over-year real house price growth as of the fourth quarter of 2022.

Interest rates have a large impact on property prices. Cross-country evidence shows that for every one percentage point increase in real interest rates, the growth rate of housing prices tends to fall by about two percentage points.

When Will Housing Prices Fall?

The rise in U.S. interest rates has been counteracted by homeowners being reluctant to sell so they can keep their low mortgage rates. As a result, it is keeping inventory low and prices high. Homeowners can’t sell and keep their low mortgage rates unless they meet strict conditions on a new property.

Additionally, several other factors impact price dynamics. Construction costs, income growth, labor shortages, and population growth all play a role.

With a strong labor market continuing through 2023, stable incomes may help stave off prices from falling. On the other hand, buyers with floating-rate mortgages face steeper costs and may be unable to afford new rates. This could increase housing supply in the market, potentially leading to lower prices.

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