Are We in a Housing Bubble?

July 11, 2011 | By | Add a Comment

In a recent issue of CIBC World Markets’ Economic Insights, one of my favourite economists, Benjamin Tal, addresses what we’ve all been wondering… Are we in a housing market bubble? Is a crash imminent?

Tal states that any such suggestion is “probably wrong”.

His reasons for this conclusion:

First, while average house prices have indeed been increasing, the main markets that are pulling up the average are Vancouver (a “highly skewed” market) and, to a lesser extent, Toronto. Pulling out the data from these markets reveals a much more moderate 3.7% year-over-year price increase.

Second, while he does believe that “prices in the Canadian market and its sub-segments are higher than can be explained by factors such as income growth, rent and household formation”, the “pace of any correction is likely to be gradual”. He demonstrates that we only have a small segment of the population that is vulnerable to interest rate hikes (families with less than 20% equity and/or whose debt payments total more than 40% of their gross income). Further, he maintains that such interest rate increases are expected to be moderate.

Tal concludes that there may indeed be a period of time where housing “underperforms” compared to other assets, but that eventually we will see a return to equilibrium.

If you’re house-hunting and wondering whether to get into a bidding war on one of those “hot” houses, this is something to keep in mind. More and more, the answer is you probably shouldn’t.

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I'm a Toronto Mortgage Broker. My focus is on saving people time and money in financing and re-financing their homes. Am passionate about helping people make informed choices, giving back, and helping to improve financial literacy in Canada.

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