More on Canadian Housing Prices

The Wall Street Journal reports in its February 19, 2014 paper that the campaign to prevent a housing bubble is gaining traction. They report that many observers think the market is drastically overpriced and may be subject to t sharp correction. The article reports that housing prices have doubled since 2002 and rose 9.5% in January compared to January 2013. A chart shows average house prices in Vancouver at more than C$800,000 and in Toronto at more than C$500,000. House prices are reported to be 50% above those in the U.S. And the construction industry is reported to represent twice the percentage of the gross domestic product in Canada as in the U.S.

As noted elsewhere, however, this is not a repeat of the subprime mortgage debacle we had in the U.S. Canadian residential mortgage loans have much lower loan-to-value (LTV) ratios and are full recourse, so the borrower is unable to just turn over the keys and avoid the debt. But these comparative numbers would suggest that Canadian consumers are carrying high levels of housing related indebtedness. Small wonder that Canadian consumers are reported to have debt to asset ratios close to those of U.S. homeowners prior to the crisis. And most of that asset value is from overpriced houses. A sharp correction in housing prices would hit consumers hard.

See also, Is there a housing bubble in Canada?