While we know all real estate markets are local, National housing figures provide a larger macro view on the Canadian economy and impact policy decisions moving forward. We saw another bounce in activity for the month of November. Home sales jumped 11% on a year-over-year basis, recording its ninth straight monthly gain. Further, on a seasonally adjusted basis home sales are above their 10 year averages.
In other words, the Canadian housing market is still humming along after a brief pause last year following a mortgage stress test and higher mortgage rates. The recent easing in financing conditions (lower rates) is spurring borrowing again. We have residential mortgage credit growth accelerating faster than it did prior to the B-20 mortgage stress test, while new listings continue to fall.
Despite a record number of new home construction, and record high prices, homeowners are choosing not to sell. It seems there is still a prevailing belief you can’t lose in Real Estate, and with central banks continuing to flood markets with liquidity the negative side effect is extremely low inventory as people horde houses. Here’s the 12 month average of listings for sale.
As a result, we are starting to see home prices grow again after a brief pause last year. Nationally, home prices jumped 2.4% year-over-year in November.
Ironically, as residential credit and house prices accelerate, there are still suggestions for easing credit standards. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has asked Finance Minister Bill Morneau to “review and consider recommendations from financial agencies related to making the borrower stress test more dynamic.” Whatever that means.
Meanwhile, Genworth Canada, the nation’s biggest private insurer, has petitioned the banking regulator (OSFI) to allow it to insure properties above $1Million without a government guarantee. If successful, homebuyers in the $1 million and up range will be able to purchase with less than 20% down.
In other words, more leverage, and more debt in a housing market that continues to inflate higher.