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OVERPRICED AND OVERBUILT: CANADIAN HOUSING

April 8th, 2009 No comments

During Canada’s “Housing Boom”, that occurred roughly from 2002 to 2008, unsound price increases drove up levels of building. Affordability of these prices have diminished significantly leaving a large disconnect between house prices and income. This situation was in great need of a correction. Our view is that house prices exceeded the value of housing that was justified by fundamentals by approximately 9% nationwide. This overpricing forced a level of residential construction that exceeded its fundamental-justified level by approximately 12%, an excess that was exaggerated in the past three years. The current unwinding of house prices reflects both a cyclical downturn and a return of house prices to fundamentally justified levels. We consider “overbuilding” of two forms: “demand driven” where homebuyers buy up too many houses and that this demand cannot be sustained; and “supply-driven” where builders accumulate excessive inventories. Although there is evidence of both types, we contend that Canada’s “overbuilding” was mainly of the first type, where homebuyers pushed homebuilding to an unsustainable pitch that is now being rapidly reined in. While most markets won’t face U.S.-style overhangs, the construction of too many new homes over the boom means a deepened slump. While Ontario homebuilding will reel from a cyclical downturn, the degree of structural weakness appears limited – with the important exception of the Toronto condo market. Both in Toronto and Vancouver, historically high levels of apartment-style units presently under construction mean that record numbers of condos will reach completion during 2009. If absorption rates fall, as cyclical factors would indicate, condo inventories could spike severely. However, Canada will not experience a U.S.-style housing crash, owing to less overbuilding and more conservative lending institutions

Source: www.td.com/economics

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