News Column

Fitch: Canadian Home Price Gains Continue to Drive Overvaluation

July 14, 2014



CHICAGO & NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Canadian home prices remain overvalued relative to historical macroeconomic fundamental drivers, Fitch Ratings says. Despite government efforts to moderate growth, home prices rose 7.1% in May (on a year-over-year basis) according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. In addition, both property sales and building permits for residential construction have picked up in recent months. Home prices also continue to be supported by historically low interest rates and a lack of supply in the major metropolitan areas; these factors have propped up affordability and drive demand. According to Fitch's sustainable home price model, which measures home prices relative to long-term fundamentals, Canadian home prices remain approximately 20% overvalued in real terms.

We believe high household debt relative to disposable income has made the market more susceptible to market stresses like unemployment or interest rate increases. The ratio reached a high of 164.1% in third-quarter 2013 before declining slightly in the following two quarters. Fitch projects unemployment will likely remain in its current 7% range. But low interest rates are unlikely to fall further. Rising interest rates could pressure the market more than others given high borrower leverage and the short-term structure of Canadian mortgages.

Fitch believes the Canadian government has taken several proactive steps in recent years to mitigate some of the risks to the housing market. The underwriting guidelines for loans insured by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) have been tightened. CMHC has also pulled back on the amount of low-ratio portfolio insurance offered to lenders and limited securitization of insured mortgages to CMHC-administered programs. Furthermore, The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions has issued a guideline for prudent bank underwriting that must be adhered to for bank originations as well as those purchased from nonbank lenders. However, the long-term impacts remain unclear, and policy makers may be required to take additional steps over the short term to engineer a soft landing.

Additional information is available on www.fitchratings.com.

The above article originally appeared as a post on the Fitch Wire credit market commentary page. The original article, which may include hyperlinks to companies and current ratings, can be accessed at www.fitchratings.com. All opinions expressed are those of Fitch Ratings.

ALL FITCH CREDIT RATINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS. PLEASE READ THESE LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK: HTTP://FITCHRATINGS.COM/UNDERSTANDINGCREDITRATINGS. IN ADDITION, RATING DEFINITIONS AND THE TERMS OF USE OF SUCH RATINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON THE AGENCY'S PUBLIC WEBSITE 'WWW.FITCHRATINGS.COM'. PUBLISHED RATINGS, CRITERIA AND METHODOLOGIES ARE AVAILABLE FROM THIS SITE AT ALL TIMES. FITCH'S CODE OF CONDUCT, CONFIDENTIALITY, CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, AFFILIATE FIREWALL, COMPLIANCE AND OTHER RELEVANT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES ARE ALSO AVAILABLE FROM THE 'CODE OF CONDUCT' SECTION OF THIS SITE. FITCH MAY HAVE PROVIDED ANOTHER PERMISSIBLE SERVICE TO THE RATED ENTITY OR ITS RELATED THIRD PARTIES. DETAILS OF THIS SERVICE FOR RATINGS FOR WHICH THE LEAD ANALYST IS BASED IN AN EU-REGISTERED ENTITY CAN BE FOUND ON THE ENTITY SUMMARY PAGE FOR THIS ISSUER ON THE FITCH WEBSITE.



Fitch Ratings

Vanessa Purwin

Senior Director

U.S. Structured Finance

+1 212 908-1269

33 Whitehall Street

New York, NY

or

Rob Rowan

Senior Director

Fitch Wire

+1 212 908-9159

or

Media Relations:

Sandro Scenga, New York, +1 212-908-0278

sandro.scenga@fitchratings.com


Source: Fitch Ratings


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