Is the Real Estate Market in Canada Set to Crash?

There has been a lot of talk in the news recently about the potential for a “real estate bubble” in Canada. Even some self professed experts in the field are calling for homeowners to cash out of the market as they predict an eminent crash. Especially in markets like Vancouver and Toronto, where housing prices have seen unprecedented growth since 2008, these experts feel that housing prices are doomed to fail. Yet, a quick look at the statistics shows that 2012 has been a stable, albeit somewhat slower year, for real estate.Vancouver is arguably the most speculated on the market in Canada, so we will use it as a microcosm of the wider Canadian market. Due to rapidly increasing housing prices, Vancouver is often considered to be the least stable real estate market in the country. Certainly, 2012 has been a slow year, especially compared to the banner year that was 2011. Nevertheless, slowing sales are hardly a cause for concern. For example, in their semi-annual report Macdonald Realty found that luxury home sales (those valued upwards of $3 million) have dropped from 466 in the first six months of 2011 to 243 in the first six months of 2012. Yet, if compared to 2010 only 375 total luxury home sales were reported.So while there have been statistical dips from 2011 to 2012, this does not necessarily indicate the market is destined for failure. Indeed, the Macdonald Realty report goes on to suggest that the main reason for a dip in luxury home sales is most likely associated with a decrease in international interest – namely Asian buyers. And this should come as no surprise as recent reports show the Chinese economy is beginning to slow. Nevertheless, there is still a considerable amount of local interest in Canadian markets.Indeed, investors need to be aware that while 2012 may appear to be a sluggish year for real estate when compared to 2011, the market has actually fared quite well next to historical figures. In addition, June has been a particularly bright spot as housing starts grew to 222,700 units in June. Housing construction was expected to continue to slow across Canada, but this surge is an example of the strength of Canadian real estate. Low interest rates allow buyers to more easily enter the market, but the government has also introduced more stringent conditions for mortgages which will prevent flooding of that market with unsuitable buyers.So what can we conclude about the possibility of a crash in the Canadian real estate market? First, while signs point to some slowing in 2012, the market is still rather strong, at least when compared to market conditions in 2010 and earlier. And second, as new construction has seen a recent resurgence, all factors indicate growth in real estate. Therefore, real estate investors should not act hastily as housing prices show steady growth.

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