Canada’s housing market on solid foundation heading into 2015
Also, year-over-year house prices in the Teranet/National Bank House Price Index (+5.4% Oct) and the Canadian Real Estate Assn House Price Index (+5.5% Oct) have trended gradually higher since the beginning of 2014. However, the rates of increase in both indexes early in the final quarter of 2014 are nowhere near the levels they reached in 2006 of 14.1%, and 13.0% respectively and early in 2010 (12.7% and 12.5%).
Turning to the supply of dwellings, housing starts in Canada have remained quite stable. Indeed, over the past two years, starts have averaged 190,000 units seasonally adjusted at annual rates (SAAR) which is at or very close to the estimated rate of household formation. Further, despite the steady uptrend in existing home sales and the above noted gradual increase in house prices, housing starts trended lower since mid year.
Another indicator of housing market health is the percentage of mortgages that are more than ninety days in arrears. In line with the very gradual decline in the number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries and the unemployment rate since the beginning of the year, the percentage of mortgages more than ninety days in arrears has trended down from 0.32% in January to 0.29% in August, its lowest value since September of 2007.
Further according to the most recent Annual State of the Residential Mortgage Market in Canada published by the Canadian Assn of Accredited Mortgage Professionals, approximately 77% of the 1.35 million homeowners who renewed their mortgates in 2014 saw a 0.8% drop in their mortgage rate. This decline in mortage rates over the past year suggests that the majority of mortgage holders renewing over the next twelve months will also see a reduction in rates.
Looking forward, the fundamental drivers of housing demand in Canada appear more positive now than they have been for several quarters. First, over the past two months, Canada has added 117,000 jobs, the vast majority of which (96,000) are full time. Second, according to a recent study by CIBC, immigration has made a much stronger contribution to growth of Canada's prime 25-44 age group than was previously estimated. Indeed, over the past five years, growth of this age group, the major driver of employment and household formation, has accelerated from -0.8% y/y in 2009 to +1.1% in 2014.
This rate is well above the average growth of the OECD and 75% faster than in the United States. Third, in addition to giving a boost to consumer spending, lower energy prices should, by increasing discretionary income, make home ownership more affordable. Finally, interest rates are likely to remain low well into the middle of the year and while they may edge higher in the second half of 2015, they are unlikely to chill housing demand significantly. Given these positive fundamentals, we expect housing starts to total in the range of 185,000 to 195,000 in 2015 compared to an estimated 190,000 in 2014.
Source: John Clinkard, Daily Commercial News