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Canada : Canada's housing affordability improves in Q2 2014

August 28, 2014

Canada s housing became more affordable in the second quarter of 2014 thanks in large part to a decline in mortgage rates, according to the latest Housing Trends and Affordability Report issued by RBC Economics Research.

It was more affordable to own a home in virtually all provincial and major local markets across Canada in Q2, and in the face of solid price gains no less, said Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist, RBC. We had anticipated a rebound in activity from earlier this year when the harsher than normal winter weather took hold, but the biggest drop in fixed mortgage rates in almost four years and resulting improvement in affordability also gave the Canadian housing market a boost of extra energy.

In May and June, Canada s home resales picked up and contributed to a 9.4 per cent seasonally-adjusted advance in the second quarter, which was the strongest quarterly gain in nearly four years. RBC says that unadjusted for seasonal factors, resales in Q2 were the second-best ever on record.

The RBC report indicates that sellers also came out from the sidelines with a surge in new listings by 8.0 per cent in the second quarter, following three consecutive quarterly declines. Greater supply of homes for sale helped to unclog markets such as Toronto, where a lack of quality listings earlier this year stifled activity.

Stats rolling in suggest that the upward momentum in Canada s housing market is being sustained and further, that a sharp slowdown is not imminent, said Wright. In the coming year however, we do expect the market will gear down its resale levels and that the rate of price increases will soften.

The report says that Canada s historically low interest rates are not sustainable and expects that longer term rates will begin to rise later this year in anticipation of the Bank of Canada s move to tighten policy in 2015. It adds that rising rates would erode housing affordability across Canada and weigh on homebuyer demand; though continued growth in household income would somewhat offset the impact.

We remain of the view that any rise rates will be gradual and unlikely to unhinge either overall affordability levels or the market we expect a cooling in activity, not a crash,' added Wright.

The RBC housing affordability measure captures the proportion of pre-tax household income that would be needed to service the costs of owning a specified category of home at current market values (a fall in the measure represents an improvement in affordability).

During the second quarter of 2014, affordability measures at the national level fell by 0.9 percentage points to 48.0 per cent for two-storey homes, by 0.6 percentage points to 42.5 per cent for detached bungalows and by 0.4 percentage points to 27.4 per cent for condominium apartments.

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Source: TendersInfo (India)

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