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Another strong increase in the Composite Index in March
In March the TeranetNational Bank National Composite House Price IndexTM was up 0.6% from the previous month. As was the case in February, this was double the average March rise of the last 10 years. Leading the advance were the markets of Ottawa-Gatineau (1.1%), Vancouver (1.0%) and Toronto (0.9%). Trailing the countrywide average were rises for Hamilton (0.4%), Quebec City (0.3%), Montreal (0.2%) and Halifax (0.1%). The index for Victoria was essentially flat. Down from the previous month were Calgary (0.1%), Edmonton (0.6%) and Winnipeg (0.8%).
The index for Vancouver has now gone six months without a decline. Its previous run of 14 straight months without a rise seems to be definitely over, especially since the Vancouver resale market has returned to balance as measured by ratio of listings to sales. The index for Victoria has move little over the last seven months. Weakness persists in the Prairies: the indexes for Calgary and Winnipeg have declined in five of the last six months, that for Edmonton in four. In central and eastern Canada the story is different. The index for Ottawa-Gatineau has not declined in any of the last 12 months, that for Toronto in only one and those for Montreal, Hamilton and Halifax in two. All of these last five markets were at a historical peak in March.
Housing Market Digest by Will Dunning, Economist for Mortgage Professionals Canada
The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) now requires that all residential mortgages by federally-regulated lenders must be stress-tested, at two percentage points above the contract interest rate (or the 5- year posted rate, if that is higher). In combination with the requirements for mortgage insurance, about 90% of all new mortgages will be tested.
This can be expected to reduce housing activity by 10-15%. It is on top of the impact from recent rises for mortgage interest rates (another 5-10% drop in activity). The combined 15-25% drop in housing activity will affect the broader economy.
In two years, employment could be 150,000-250,000 lower than it would otherwise be. There is a risk that house prices will fall. In a modern economy, a sustained drop in house prices is one of the most dangerous things that can happen: as happened in the US a decade ago, falling house prices can turn into widespread economic decline.
Resale activity recovered a bit more in September, to 492,900, due to partial rebounds in BC and Ontario. Activity is flat in most other areas.
CREAs House Price Index was flat in September. The year-over-year change is now 10.7% (down from the peak of 19.7% that was seen in April).
The sales-to-new-listings ratio (SNLR) was 55.7% in September, slightly above the balanced market threshold of 51%. This indicator points to an outlook for stable prices (at worst). But, as noted, OSFIs stress test policy creates a risk of falling prices.
We should, in general, expect that resale activity will trend upwards over time, because the population is growing and the housing inventory is expanding. Therefore, it is useful to look at sales on a per capita basis. Recent activity is below the long-term average.