A new report issued by US ratings agency Fitch says that fast-rising home prices and record levels of household debt pose a threat to the credit portfolios of Canadian banks.
The agency examined the exposure of Canada’s six largest banks to mortgage risk and found that household debt fuelled by mortgage credit expansion in Canada is the largest threat to credit profiles.
“These are quite high levels of debt for households and the movement in house prices, we don’t think this is sustainable in the long term,” said report author Fabrice Toka, senior director at Fitch.
The six banks have a combined $730-billion in mortgage exposure and an additional $182-billion in home equity loan exposure, the report noted.
High unemployment or interest rate shock “could aversely affect the ability of leveraged homeowners to meet their mortgage obligations,” the report said.
The risk testing scenario looked at drops of 1 to 10% and sees CIBC and RBC as the most exposed to mortgage value risks. The debt-to-income ratio in Canada is currently higher than it was in pre-recession US, but Fitch points out that there are structural differences in our housing market.
Here’s the full article in the Financial Post.
Well, there’s a change in the air when it comes to Vancouver Real Estate. The ‘can’t lose’ investment is starting to look like the ‘must lose’ investment with reports of buyers walking away from deposits and waiting for prices to keep dropping.
“It happened twice in the last month. One [deposit] was $75,000 and one was a $20,000 deposit, the guys just walked away from it,” said Mr. Arora, who runs Oneflatfee.ca in Surrey, B.C. “They are going to wait it out. So they lost $75,000 and $20,000, but if the market comes down $150,000 on a $1.5-million house, that’s not uncommon.”
Vancouver’s once-overheated housing market has cooled sharply, with the average price falling nearly 10 per cent in April from a year ago to $735,315, according to figures released Tuesday by the Canadian Real Estate Association. That was the largest drop since the recession and it marked the fourth decline in the past five months.
In a market once famous for being overheated, Mr. Arora said he hasn’t seen a bidding war in months. “It’s totally a buyers’ market. Buyers are determining the price,” he said. “And sellers are surprisingly accepting it. They are taking it.”
Buyers always determine the price. If there are enough of them that want to pay more they will drive prices up. Sellers have no control if no buyer is willing or able to pay the asking price.
Looky here, the Province newspaper has discovered the price to rent ratio!
Take the house price and divide it by what it costs to rent for a year to get the price-to-rent ratio: Price divided by (Monthly rent x 12) = X.
(Estimates for additional costs of homeownership, such as taxes, maintenance and insurance are factored into the equation.)
If the number is higher than 15, it’s generally not a good time to buy.
If the ratio is less than 15, buying is a better deal than renting, if you plan on living there for at least five years to offset moving and closing costs.
By the time the number hits 20, renting is apparently the way to go, except if buyers expect to stay put for at least 15 years, according to a formula used by trulia.com to rank major urban U.S. centres every year.
B.C.’s numbers, as shown in the graphic, are through the roof, from 29 (Prince George) to 73 (West Vancouver).
Compare that to a few little housing markets like Manhattan (20) and San Francisco (17). That ratio doesn’t mean house prices are <i>low</i> it just means that they’re more reasonably priced compared to rents.
Since you can’t take on a big loan to pay rent it tends to show how much a place is actully worth in terms of desirability and local economics.
A Bank of Montreal report is predicting that Vancouver house prices will continue to fall for the next couple of years:
BMO Senior Economist Sal Guatieri says the price of homes in Vancouver and uncertainty over long-term mortgage rates are creating a buyer’s market.
He also says rich foreign investors who have driven up real-estate prices in Vancouver are now looking at cities that are less expensive.
“The sizzle is coming off the Vancouver housing market,” Guateri says.
Read the full article over at News 1130.
This is odd. The Globe and Mail published an article about the condo boom titled “How condo boom threatens a ghost city phenomenon” and included the following alarming section:
“CMHC estimates that roughly 25 per cent of condominiums in the Greater Toronto Area are sold but sitting vacant — shades of Miami at the height of its collapsed condo bubble in 2007. Other analysts say the 25 per cent figure may be too low.
“This is the ghost city phenomenon,” Mr. Holt said.
Condo developers in Eastern cities such as Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, appear to be rushing to sell and build units before interest rates start to climb, and the market crashes.”
But if you visit that link you’ll no longer find that text and the headline has been changed to “Housing starts shoot higher on back of condo boom” (although as of this writing the URL still shows the original title). Why the dramatic change in tone?