Vibe posted an interesting comparison of the 2006 US bubble peak to the present day Canadian situation in the forums this weekend. The local Vancouver market is bubblicious, but is there a national Canadian housing bubble?
Everyone pretty much agrees about Vancouver, but here are a couple of points that were made about the national scene:
1.It is reasonable to claim that there is not a housing bubble in Canada because only certain areas are over inflated.
2.Vancouver’s very high prices skew the national average and cause Canada to look worse than it really is.
One thing I think we can all agree on is that the US did have a housing bubble. Well I put together a spreadsheet that I feel shows that affordability is about as bad across Canada as it was in the US at their peak. It also shows that Vancouver is not skewing our national data any more than the most overpriced cities in the US were skewing their data.
In order to measure affordability I used house price to personal income ratios. I compared the 20 cities used in the Case Shiller Housing Index to the 6 cities used in the Teranet Housing Index. The US data is from 2006 while the Canadian data is from 2009.
I think the following graph most clearly illustrates my point:
Vancouver is the only Canadian city with a ratio over 9, while the US had 3: LA, San Fran and San Diego. Toronto is the only Canadian city with a ratio between 5 and 9, the US had 9 in this range. The under 5 range looks bigger for Canada but we have more population covered by our index than they do by theirs. The important thing is that the percentage of each nations population living in cities with elevated ratios is similar.
The distribution and average ratios for both countries are almost identical. I did a population weighted average of the ratios and this gave a higher value for the US than Canada, 6.3 versus 5.6. Keeping in mind that the Canadian data comes from 3rd quarter 2009, during our recent price dip, I don’t think this is a huge difference.
Now I don’t know what the future holds, but to me this data suggest we are in a very similar situation to the US at their peak. We might not take the same path down (we already had a double top) but I don’t see why our eventual bottom should be much, if any, higher than theirs. And any price drops should be distributed across the nation in a similar fashion as well.
Here is a link to the data for anyone interested.