Canada

Canadian Real Estate Bought By Investors Doubled, Odds of A Correction Rise: BoC

Great news! The odds of a housing correction are soaring and people might lose a lot of cash — but the banks will be fine. That was a key takeaway from Bank of Canada (BoC) deputy governor Paul Beaudry today. Seriously. 

In a speech to the OSC, the central bank warned Canadian real estate has seen a surge of investors. This has driven home prices much higher, sending even more investors to the segment. It’s a vicious cycle, where home prices are now just rising because people think that’s what they always do. The deputy chief said this can increase the odds of a correction, but the financial system can handle it. And really, isn’t our primary concern how the banks are doing?

Canadian Real Estate Investors Doubled Their Share of The Market

The BoC presented new data showing a surge of Canadian real estate investors. Their calculations show annual growth of investor purchases doubled in Q2 2021. In contrast, first-time homebuyers increased by less than 50% over the same period. 

This isn’t totally surprising. Last month data from the land registry showed investors surged in Ontario. The new BoC data does confirm this is a national trend instead of a regional one. It also takes the narrative of first-time buyers driving this market behind the shed. 

Home purchases by investors increased more during the pandemic than those by other homebuyers

Year-over-year growth in the number of new mortgages, by type of homebuyer (percent).

Source: : TransUnion, regulatory filings of Canadian banks and Bank of Canada calculations.

“A sudden influx of investors in the housing market likely contributed to the rapid price increases we saw earlier this year. In such a case, expectations of future price increases can become self-fulfilling, at least for a while. That can expose the market to a higher chance of a correction,” said Beaudry. 

Investors, Crashes, and Lying About Occupancy?

The BoC chose an interesting paper to cite —  Real Estate Investors, the Leverage Cycle, and the Housing Market Crisis. Written by the US Federal Reserve, it argues investors amplified home price growth during the 2000s. By doing this, they created much of the pressure that caused the US housing bubble.

The bubble pops when these investors can no longer drive the market higher. At that point, they start to withdraw their support of the market, helping to capitulate it. The last point is worth chewing on, since investors have been shifting to equities.

The US Fed suggests anti-speculation policies to target investors as a way to lower risk. Though they also found investors lie about the occupancy of their homes. This would make it extremely difficult to target them. As long as incentive exists, people will find a way around the rules.

Canadian Home Prices Falling Would Not Create A Financial Crisis 

Most people think falling home prices can create a meltdown as the US saw in 2008. The Global Financial crisis wasn’t a housing correction though, it was a failure of the system. Home prices fell, but they did so with the general collapse of the economy. 

The BoC deputy governor doesn’t see that happening. If home prices fall, he’s confident the system will avoid a financial crisis. This is an interesting distinction the central bank chose to point out today.

Not because the BoC recently said overconfidence in the system created a moral hazard. Just the fact they need to explain how prices falling isn’t an issue, is kind of strange.

“None of that is to say a calamity is on the horizon. The financial system as a whole is in good health and is generally quite resilient. Nevertheless, a drop in housing prices could significantly affect household spending, with repercussions for employment—even if it didn’t put the financial system at risk,” he said. 

It’s just less money and higher unemployment. The good news is your bank will be totally fine. 

8 Comments

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  • Yussef 1 week ago

    Pre-2008 home prices didn’t crash and take the whole financial system with it.

    The two have been packaged to convince the public all of society loses if markets become rational. Not the case.

  • Whiskey Foxtrot 1 week ago

    Is it possible to get bigger morons to run the Bank of Canada? They seem to be 3 years behind on where they should be considering what’s happening.

  • V 1 week ago

    Not possible. They are definitely the biggest MORONS!
    100%

  • Chris P. 1 week ago

    I am afraid this is another smoke screen.
    If the “investors” were some shifty house flippers or Canadian institutions then
    the collapse would already happened. But if hey are foreign buyers who try to
    stash their money in a safe country then we may have to wait quite a bit longer.
    And regardless who is in power, the Canadian government will do everything to
    prolong it.
    If your grandma deposits 10K into her account, the CRA will contact her about
    the origin of the money. But if a gambler from China request $200 000 delivered
    in a big duffel bag in $20 bills, our government shows no similar vigilance as
    to the origin of that bundle.
    And if one can, legally, buy a 2 million dollar house with cash from a suitcase and
    register it under a numbered company so nobody knows who owns it, you know that
    there is more to the housing prices than just speculation.
    So don’t hold you breath if you want to buy a house.
    P.S. I recommend the book “Willful Blindness” for the price collapse optimists

    • SH 6 days ago

      Why do you say it would have collapsed already if it were all lunkhead Canadian Chads and Tyrones speculating? The government bailed out speculators last year when it forced the banks to give blanket mortgage deferrals to everyone who asked, including multi unit landlords.

    • Eff Jayelle 6 days ago

      Stop with the foreign boogeyman. Stats Canada and CMHC as well as housing registries show across Canada not true and in concentrated pockets still less than 11%. Flippers and now multiple properties owners were mostly locals and FOMO gray markets etc doubling down but biggest factor was dwindling supply and younger pop reached house buying agr while baby boomers are refusing to sell. Gary Mason addressed this a while ago. Hot centre’s like Vancouver Toronto and Montreal n as y have higher pockets of all types of non residential Canadians but even provinces with small towns are no foreigners are all experiencing same supply and price issues. We believe Stats Can on Covid so why not on believe them on small numbers of foreign investors main cause of driving home prices but rather speculation and supply issues. Even the ban in New zeal and did little to continually spiking house prices there

      • RW 5 days ago

        No one doesn’t believe Stat Can, it’s people don’t understand the data. It’s the same thing with COVID data tbh.

        A marginal buyer sets the price and foreign investors pay significantly more. That is undeniable fact from Stat Can. If you’re saying investors are driving the market and foreign investors a paying more than, you’re saying foreign investors are driving the market.

        Whether you think that’s a good thing or bad thing is up for debate. Most people are quite happy with foreign investment as a sign of attractiveness. Lobby groups BOAST of the contribution they make to home prices.

        The “expert” who said this wasn’t the case didn’t disclose he sold his home to foreign money lobbyists. Not because he was lying, but HE DIDN’T KNOW. I don’t think you understand the irony there.

        https://www.scmp.com/news/world/united-states-canada/article/2181447/professor-says-vancouvers-china-money-fears-mirror

  • Heather 7 days ago

    I have trust issues in regards to bankers. Better Dwelling writers, Better Dwelling commenters, and Dad, decades ago – “Don’t trust the bankers!”

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