BMO Revises Worst-Case Forecast For Canadian Real Estate To A Much Larger Drop

Canadian real estate’s high flying prices are increasing the risk of a large correction. BMO Q2 2021 disclosures show the bank made big revisions to its risk forecast. In the best-case scenario, they see exuberance pushing prices more than twice as high as previously thought. In the worst case, they’ve more than doubled the size of potential price declines.

Macroeconomic Scenario Assumptions

Financial organizations are required to assess risk using unbiased, and possible outcomes. When they do so, they create various forecasts for different macro environment risks. Typically they create three forecasts — a best case, base case, and worst-case scenario. 

The base, best, and worst-case scenarios are exactly what you would expect. The base case is the most probable outcome they believe will happen. If the future goes exactly as planned, this is how they would expect things to unfold. The best case is if the situation  surprises. The worst-case scenario is if the situation surprises to the downside. 

It’s important that all three of the scenarios are realistic though. Too optimistic, and a few bumps in the road mean bail-out time. Too pessimistic means taking too few risks, and failing to maximize profits… which leads to a different kind of bailout. The point is these aren’t fear-mongering or asset-pumping numbers. They’re reasonable outcomes the bank believes are possible. 

The Worst-Case Scenario For Canadian Real Estate Is A 29% Drop

The worst case, or “adverse” in BMO lingo, is a lot worse than they had expected just a few months ago. As of April 31, 2021, this scenario includes a drop of 12.3% for 2021, and another 18.7% decline in 2022. Compounded, that works out to a 28.7% decline in home prices from a year before.  

BMO Canadian Real Estate Risk Scenarios

BMO macroeconomic assumptions for Canadian real estate prices under various risk scenarios.
Source: BMO; CREA; Better Dwelling.

This is a much larger house price decline than they anticipated was possible just a few months ago. In October, they had forecast a 9.1% decline for prices in 2021 for this scenario. It would then be forecast to fall another 4.6% in 2022, bringing the worst-case loss forecast to 13.28% by the end of next year. The revision sees the decline becoming more than twice as large in the event of a downturn. In other words, the bear case is even more bearish than before. 

The Base-Case Scenario Sees Home Prices Rise 24%

The base case, or the most likely outcome they currently see, also got some big revisions — one positive, one negative. The bank’s risk department sees 17.8% price growth in 2021, followed by another 5.1% in 2022. That puts the total increase at 23.81% higher by the end of 2022. At the current rate, one more month of growth would put prices above their year end target. Most institutions do expect the market to cool a little by year end.

This is also a massive increase compared to what they were expecting just a few months ago. As of October 31, 2020, the bank had forecast prices to increase 4.5% in 2021, followed by 2.5% in 2022. This would compound to a 7.11% increase by the end of next year. The revision for the base case is more than 3x what was expected less than a year ago.   

The Best-Case Scenario Is Home Prices Rise 33%

The best case, or “benign” at BMO, would mean the country would be pretty much unlivable for anyone under 40. They see prices rising up to 20.8% in 2021, and then adding another 10% in 2022. This would bring the gains to 32.88% by the end of next year. If you consider that few local incomes can already support these prices, it would require a huge injection of foreign capital.  

Just a few months ago, they didn’t see this kind of growth at all. The October 31, 2020 best case scenario forecast 9.6% growth in 2021, followed by 5.4% in 2022. That would have brought prices 15.52% higher than last year. The revision filed today is more than twice as large, so the bull case is even more bullish. 

The bearish case is much worse than previously expected, but the bullish case also got better. It’s kind of confusing if you’ve never seen a risk scenario, but the takeaway is uncertainty. The spread between the best and worst-case scenarios is now 33.1 points for 2021. It was only 18.7 points in October. Markets see the spread shrink in more predictable environments. Spreads increase in less predictable ones.

Back in October, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, home prices had only seen modest growth. Economists argue price growth was even in-line with the interest rate cut in Q2. Since October, Canada’s benchmark home increased $100,000 in price — a year of the median household’s income. Now prices dropping 30% is just as likely as another year of exuberance. At least from a bank’s risk perspective. 

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  • Ethan Wu 3 years ago

    My favorite will be everyone balk at a 30% price drop, but thinks a 30% price increase is just math.

    • SH 3 years ago

      It makes sense though, since the 30% increase is actively supported and backstopped by the government and taxpayers, whereas any decrease will be fought aggressively. Remember that Adam Vaughan says that even a 10% decline must be prevented by the government at all costs because people use their home equity to fund education (he actually said this).

      • April Kibzey 3 years ago

        Am I the only one who actually read this article all the way? Complete ‘bull’ lol…back when dinosaurs roamed the earth???

        • RW 3 years ago

          Yes, April. You’re the only one that read the article all the way through. We’ll ignore that the person who wrote it is who Adam Vaughan said it to, quoted his work on Twitter, and the site has a forum with hundreds of finance professionals.

          No one reads it. Here we are wasting thousands per month hearing what they say in institutional reports, to explain it to you three months later.

        • Paul 3 years ago

          It’s a whimsical phrase. Some of us have been watching this unfold and every month when things get a little more out of whack it seems like years ago when a large increase was 7%. What? You don’t have fun at work or tell a joke? Try and develop a sense of humour.

      • Paul 3 years ago

        Adam Vaughn doesn’t create/impact/control anything happening in the industry. And since he shot his mouth off I wouldn’t even credit him for being a mouth piece. The only reason why he wasn’t disciplined is there is too much attention and heat on him now which would equate to guilt.

    • Barron bell 3 years ago

      They Dont know what they are talking about. BMO says they will increase 30% or they may decrease 30. That just about covers it. They pay these guys, lol

    • Pessimist 3 years ago

      The difference between the base case and best case is +9%. The difference between the base case and worst case is – 59% from the base case.

      That tells me that the base case is not the most probable outcome.

      High commodity prices will definitely push prices up. But also cause the CAD dollar to rise making foreign purchases more expensive, dampening foreign demand.

      Domestic cost to income ratio + uninsured mortgage stress test will both dampen domestic demand. Domestic demand may plunge in the near future as people simply can’t afford it.

      Rental demand is likely to increase as all the would be buyers rent instead of buy. The vast majority of new immigrants will be renters further straining rental supply. The lower income renters get squeezed out of housing, increasing homelessness some of which will be new immigrants.

      Higher shelter costs decreases household disposable income. Higher consumer prices reduces the purchasing power of households. Dampening economic growth.

      Once inflation stabilizes real estate is no longer attractive as an inflation hedge increasing supply. This may involve interest rate increases which would decrease purchasing power.

      Developers will be eager to quickly bring supply to market in order to capitalize on the high prices.

      The outlook on the Canadian economy is one where small business and retail continue to suffer. Travel and tourism never reaches pre-pandemic levels for over a decade. Commodity exporters gain. Banks stagnate as debt growth stagnates. Housing prices stagnate or decline. Homelessness rises, and the unemployment rate stays at a higher level.

      I could be wrong.

      • Beverley 3 years ago

        Sounds about right, I’m a pessimist too.

      • Paul 3 years ago

        I agree but I’m a realist not a pessimist. At some point one has to acknowledge the mess we got ourselves into. When you find yourself in a hole the best thing to do is stop digging.

  • Grut 3 years ago

    Neighbor held offers last week. Only one offer came in, and it was at the asking price, that was much lower than the market value. Agent told him they’re going to try to over list next, and see if prices come in higher than market, but lower than ask so they think it’s a “deal”

    You have to be an idiot to buy a home in this market. The sticker isn’t even close to what it’s worth, they’re just trying to maximize what you pay.

  • Average Man 3 years ago

    So, nobody knows anything, is what I’m reading here. Right?

    • Barron bell 3 years ago

      Lol the suits say your house could increase 28% or it could decrease 30%, Dummies! And they get paid !

  • Throwjustinout 3 years ago

    My personal experience , i see family of 8-10 people coming to see the property and when i check the house sold price its 300-500k over asking (and its same family who purchased the property). So imagine you have 8 family members who get 2k cerb benefit and the other child care benefit that income would add upto more than what a docter or lawyer would make . So its cake walk to afford a 1.5 M house with the govt funding and fake mortgage doucment . No wonder lawyers and docters are chaging their profession to be Real estate agent . Hard working class is dommed in this country …

    • Average Man 3 years ago

      Man, paying to get dommed is expensive. The working class can’t afford that kind of luxury. The only people I know paying to get dommed in this economy are tech bros and finance guys. And realtors.

    • Chuck Finley 3 years ago

      Not just that, any renters may soon be “dommed” too.

  • Smug Canadians 3 years ago

    Had a letter in our mailbox today from one of these bottom-feeding trolls…….I mean real estate agents. He said he wanted to purchase our house at 10% more than the neighbor’s sold for last month….no RE fees or legal fees. WTF???!!! Is this what our country has come to? What an embarrassment!!!!
    Go crawl back under the rock from which you came, loser!!!

    • Mike Perlman 3 years ago

      You can tell in your rants that you don’t own a house and want the world to implode so that you can buy the large detached you dream about. It’s not fooling anyone, even the other people like me that dislike the RE industry and what is happening.

      • Kris 3 years ago

        Try reading his post again. He said he received a letter from a realtor offering to buy his house. Clearly he owns a home and is a sensible person. You on the other hand are a probably sucker who probably over paid for your home.

        • Mike Perlman 3 years ago

          The guy just rants daily here Kris, maybe you’re new. He has so much pent up anger over not being able to afford a house it’s unreal. He only started pretending that he owns a house over the last few months.

    • John 3 years ago

      All you need is 3 clever deadbeats and you get $6000 per month income. What a country. And there are geniuses that want to make this permanent through UBI. Why would anyone work if being a deadbeat pays more?

  • J 3 years ago

    Prices will keep rising. This bubble is already in full hysteria bubble gum mania mode. The crash is down the road. The over night paper millionaire will cry and realize they are human.

  • Mike Perlman 3 years ago

    When reading through the BMO reports I noticed that in the bearish case while the percentage drop is now larger it is still just bringing it down to the same price as the last report smaller percentage… whereas the base and bull case are much higher than last report.

  • chris 3 years ago

    Ya gotta love when the graph was drawn by a 2 year old. The numbers don’t equate to anything in that graph. Goo-ggo gaga up line, down line googoo gaagaa red line…

    • Mortgage Guy 3 years ago

      “These dummies. It doesn’t make sense.”
      — Guy With No Experience Handling The Information They’re Critiquing

      Hey, at least you’re probably the smartest kid in your circle of friends.

      • Chris 3 years ago

        Lets use your calculator for this one what is 28.7% of 731,600? I get 209,969. You ? Now plot that on the graph using a red line. We will move on to the other 2 lines later.

    • Steve 3 years ago

      I hope the whole frigging market crashes, hard, and burns.

      The greed and selfishness I’ve seen is nauseating beyond description, and what’s even more galling is the government has the power to fix the problem, but won’t.

      Millions of people are being shut out of buying even a small house because of the rampant greed. Nothing justifies that state of affairs.

  • Barrett 3 years ago

    Going to be funny to watch this bank blowout. Not reason to have PCLs, so it’s probably going to get recirculated as profits.

  • M 3 years ago

    People are hold billions in saving accounts and get nothing from it.
    What they do ?
    Buying houses/condos.
    It’s good for the economy and the government enjoy it.
    Nothing will go down with low interest rates.

  • Oliver 3 years ago

    Risk assessment models here demonstrate that your predictions report is a total waste of the reader’s time. You want to have your cake etc. Useless diatribe from a ‘construct validity’ perspective . Surely, U cannot hedge your bets this way and still make all the $ profits u do! Surely, u have multiple other valid strategies for maximizing profits, despite whatever direction the market takes! Reveal those algorithms instead! And save me your
    risk ass sessment !

    • PK 3 years ago

      BREAKING: Guy that gets 5% for selling you a home says don’t worry about risk, worry about maximizing my commissions. More at 6.

    • Paul 3 years ago

      Who is making predictions? You mean the banks that created three possible outcomes? If you are such a genius maybe you should tell us what will happen?

  • John 3 years ago

    Okay. So, according to the experts at BMO, the most probable outcome is price appreciation by 24%.

    • RW 3 years ago

      Most probable, but they also said they don’t trust home values in some markets, and are just looking at your ability to pay.

      This is actually a watered-down version of the analyst call.

  • John 3 years ago

    The articles in this site generally try to get the attention of housing bears who perpetually predict a housing crash. That’s why they don’t bother putting an accurate title to the article.

    I think they published another article saying it takes 20 years for a famiky with household income of 180k to buy a house in Toronto. (Could’ve been another site) The math didn’t work out at all if you crunch the number yourself.

    These days, you have to read the entirety of an article and maybe even the fine print because everyone’s got an agenda.

  • Cto 3 years ago

    Housing market forecast today ,…. partly cloudy, with a chance of meatballs….

  • Peter 3 years ago

    Why headline the worst case and not the base case?

    Base case to positive for better dwelling?

    • Ethan Wu 3 years ago

      That’s how risk professionals are supposed to present it, because the organization has to prepare for the worst, regardless of the base case probability.

    • RW 3 years ago

      Guy that doesn’t know the difference between “to” and “too” has opinions about how risk blogs present risk. Shocked, I tells ya.

  • Mike William Frantz Bushell 3 years ago

    The correction is going to be much greater than BMO is suggesting, based on income & evetual rising rates, it could be as high as 45%. Similar to 1930, 1981 & 1989. Toronto, Vancouver in particular.

  • Rahmat Khan 3 years ago

    A correction is for sure going to happen as soon as the pandemic is over. But how much that depends upon the domestic and and international economic situation.

  • Sal 3 years ago

    I see 10 to 15% down turn in general, hi end homes 15-20% as long as rates are low the will go back to today’s price in 2 to 3 years

Comments are closed.