The world’s largest central bank is seeing the warning signals for Canadian real estate get brighter. US Federal Reserve (US Fed) updated their exuberance indicators for Q2 2020. Their measures for Canada show recent acceleration over the past two quarters. There was a brief period in the data where it appears Canada almost came back to reality. In the first quarter of this year though, buyer’s became more exuberant.
Exuberance Is Not A Fundamental
First, let’s quickly run through the concept of exuberance. Exuberance is the state of being excited. When used in economics, it means emotion and excitement is the driving mechanism. If a buyer is said to exuberant, they are buying not based on any fundamental reason – but rather their emotional reasoning. In other words, they’re paying more based strictly on the fact they think they should be paying more. Not because any fundamental basis is driving the valuation higher.
Exuberance doesn’t mean markets can’t or won’t go higher. Markets driven by an emotional state are more vulnerable to correction though. If buyers aren’t using fundamentals, then a sudden change in emotion means they need to discover the actual price floor. That’s sometimes a ways down.
Canadian Real Estate Becomes More Exuberant
Canada is seeing exuberance accelerate over the past few quarters. The indicator reached 1.89 in Q2 2020, up from 1.56 during the same quarter last year. The market has seen two consecutive quarters of acceleration.
Canadian Real Estate Buyer Exuberance
An index of exuberance Canadian real estate buyers are demonstrating, in relation to pricing fundamentals.Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Better Dwelling.
Canadian real estate has been consistently in this level for years, but not as many as some people want you to think. It first breached the critical threshold in Q1 2015, and hasn’t fallen below that level since. There’s been a few periods where it almost has, which have been followed by policy moves to prop up the market. Technically the market has only been exuberant for half a decade. Although that may feel like forever, it’s not really that long.
The Federal Reserve warns this indicator doesn’t tell us when we’ll see a correction, just the likelihood of one. After 5 quarters above the critical threshold, the Reserve believes markets will require a correction. The longer this trend persists, the further detached the market is from fundamentals. This means a larger correction will be required, whether in terms of falling prices or inflation that kills the real value.
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