Submitted by Jeff Desjardins of Visual Capitalist
Canada has the Most Overvalued Housing Market in World
In every inflating bubble, there’s usually two camps. The first group points out various metrics suggesting something is inherently unsustainable, while the second reiterates that this time, it is different.
After all, if everyone always agreed on these things, then no one would do the buying to perpetuate the bubble’s expansion. The Canadian housing bubble has been no exception to this, and the war of words is starting to heat up.
On one side of the ring, we have The Economist, that came out last week saying Canada has the most overvalued housing market in the world. After crunching the data in housing markets in 26 nations, The Economist has determined that Canada’s property market is the most overvalued in terms of rent prices (+89%), and the third most overvalued in terms of incomes (+35%). They have mentioned in the past that the market has looked bubbly for some time, but finally Canada is officially at the top of their list.
Of course, The Economist is not the only fighter on this side of the ring.
Just over a month ago, the IMF sounded a fresh alarm on Canada’s housing market by saying that household debt is well above that of other countries. Meanwhile, seven in ten mortgage lenders in Canada have expressed “concerns” that the real estate sector is in a bubble that could burst at any time. Deutsch Bank estimates the market is 67% overvalued and readily offers seven reasons why Canada is in trouble. Even hedge funds are starting to find ways to short the market in anticipation of an upcoming collapse. Canada’s housing situation could give rise to the world’s next Steve Eisman, Eugene Xu, or Greg Lippmann.
On the opposing side of the ring, who will contend that the Canadian housing market is just different this time? Hint: look to the banks and government.
Stephen Harper, Canada’s Prime Minister, has tried to dispel fears. He recently told a business audience in New York that he didn’t anticipate any housing crisis in Canada.
Just this week, the Bank of Canada also tried its best to deflate housing bubble fears. “We don’t believe we’re in a bubble,” says Stephen Poloz, the Bank’s Governor. “Our housing construction has stayed very much in line with our estimates of demographic demand.”
Poloz suggested that housing costs do not necessarily have to contract to match the incomes of Canadians. Instead, he expects growth in the economy to raise wages and make housing more affordable.
Strangely enough, by the Bank of Canada’s own estimate, the housing market is overvalued by as much as 30%. It is hard for housing to become more affordable when prices are rising in double digits in a year. Combine this with the fact that household debt rates keep setting new records, and one side of the fight might get tilted sooner than later.