RBC Still Sees Canadian Real Estate Dropping 30% In The Worst-Case Scenario

Canada’s largest bank still sees home prices making a steep drop in a worst-case scenario. RBC regulatory filings for Q2 2021 show the bank’s forecast for risk planning. Currently, they see price growth slowing from current levels, but still advancing. If housing surprises to the upside, they see home prices advancing a little more quickly. If housing surprises to the downside, they forecast home prices could drop up to 30% in the worst-case.

Macroeconomic Scenario Assumptions

Financial organizations are required to disclose risk using unbiased and realistic outcomes. As mentioned earlier this week with BMO, they do it by creating forecasts for key indicators. They usually split the forecast into three — a best case, base case, and worst-case scenarios. One of those indicators is housing, and that’s what we’re looking at today.

The base, best, and worst-case scenarios are self-explanatory. The base case is the outcome if everything goes as planned. The best case (“alternative upside” at RBC) is the ideal outcome if everything was perfect. The worst-case (“alternative downside” at RBC) is if things are worse than expected. As I said, it’s self-explanatory. 

The fact that all of these scenarios are realistic is the sticking point for a lot of people. If the best-case forecast is too optimistic, the firm may take on too much risk. In that case, a tiny hiccup can derail the whole firm. If the worst-case forecast is too pessimistic, the firm is overpreparing for risk. That would come at the cost of taking reasonable exposure, leading to lower profits. Managing the right balance of “to the moon” and “it’s going to crash” is the goal of their risk manager.

The Base Case At RBC Sees Next Year and Beyond Revised Lower

The base case got an upward revision near-term, but the long-term outlook was pulled back. As of April 30, 2021, home prices are expected to rise 3% over the following 12 months, up from 0.6% in October. It would be followed by compound annual growth of 3.7% over the next two to five years. This was a downward revision from 4.5% in October. The combo of higher near-term and lower long-term implies pulled forward demand. That’s exactly what lowering interest rates was intended to do.

RBC Canadian Real Estate Risk Scenarios

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

Canadian Real Estate Prices Fall Up To 30% In The Worst-Case

The worst-case scenario is still one of the biggest downside forecasts for housing. As of April 30, 2021, home prices are expected to fall up to 29.6% over the following 12 months in this scenario. This was unchanged from previous forecasts. The next two to five years are forecast to see compounded annual growth of 4.2%. The latter numbers are an upward revision from previous forecasts. It implies a faster recovery in the event of a home price crash. In other words, they likely see the Canadian economy as much more resilient if home prices tanked.

Canadian Real Estate Prices Rise Up To 11% In The Best-Case Scenario

The best-case received a small upward revision, but is about a third of the size of the downside scenario. As of April 30, 2021, home prices are forecast to rise 10.9% over the next 12 months in this scenario. This is an upward revision of 6.1% in the October 30, 2021 forecast. The following two to five years are forecast to see 11.1% compound annual growth. The best-case scenario’s growth would be less than half of the current rate of annual price growth.  

There are a few key points that stand out in this risk forecast. RBC is acknowledging the pull-forward effect, which likely borrowed some future growth. The risk-reward ratio is still surprisingly high between the best and worst scenarios. If housing were a stock, investors would say their model shows a risk-reward ratio is 0.34:1. For context, most professional traders would look for a ratio of 2:1 or greater. 

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  • Jason Chau 3 years ago

    A 30% gains wipes out, what? 50%? That would take us right to the beginning of this madness in 2016, plus inflation-controlled growth for 5 years.

    A crash is now the healthiest outcome, and I’m absolutely fine with my home dropping in price so my neighborhood doesn’t become an investment ponzi scheme.

    • Tommy Jukratch 3 years ago

      It really depends on location as well, as my neighbourhood is up 83% over the last two years, and so a 30% drop only wipes out about one year.

  • Justin Neale 3 years ago

    The best case adds 4 points to the base case, and worst case subtracts 36 points? I think that tells us where they think this is going.

  • Mateo 3 years ago

    Would a 30% drop make Vancouver unsustainable? Probably not is my guess.

    • Ali 3 years ago

      This is the issue really. My wife and I make about $150k together, so 50% above the median household. We can’t buy anything buy a tiny condo that’s growing in price slower than a low rise, even outside of the city.

      Good paying tech jobs don’t even pay the bills for quality of life, so I just asked for a transfer to the US office.

      • Demetrios 3 years ago

        It sucks, I know 🙁 Wish the great Canada bubble burst just as loud.

      • Ashley 3 years ago

        With increasing cost of living in Canada esp. the housing costs, US is definitely a better alternative. I personally know 3 families who have moved to US in last 4 months and I am as well considering given the situation here, low pay, low quality of life and high cost of living.

        • Average Man 3 years ago

          I would but sadly I lack marketable skills.

      • Ed 3 years ago

        I make 300k as a contractor and not including my wife’s income I’m already top percentile
        Guess what, I’m in the same boat as you. Looking to move out of Canada…and north america in general. The US is cheaper but the gun lovers can go shove that pistol up their back nine!

        • Emily 3 years ago

          That’s exactly it.

          Moving to the US includes living with their out of control gun laws. No.

      • jim 3 years ago

        I believe that’s Tiff’s grand plan where inflation will spur wage increases. Once wages increase then Tiff will be motivated to increase interest rates. I believe that’s what happened in the 70s with the vicious cycles of union demands and company inflating prices to cover the demands. Today there is less union participation with its collective bargaining. Plus a lot of catchup if housing inflation is considered (which Tiff does not). So good luck with that plan. Tiff has his blinds on and nose in his text books.

      • Kris 3 years ago

        Ali you would not be the first person to make a move like that. In fact we may see a brain drain to the U.S. and lose plenty of young talent. In fact the U.S. competes with Canada for skilled immigrants and is in a much better position to attract that type of immigration. We are pooched if the market doesn’t correct. And these builders need to stop building shoebox sized condos and actually start building decent sized units for families.

  • Hugo 3 years ago

    I’ve lived through too bubbles. The price of homes is coming down. The only question is do small towns retain the value and cities like Toronto take the loss, or do they make a small drop and pass the liabilities. 30% can be split a lot of ways, including some cities still rising.

    • Average Man 3 years ago

      You’re absolutely right, and it makes me realize there’s so much we don’t know. How many people are straight speculating? How many negative cap landlords are there? How widespread is mortgage fraud?

  • V 3 years ago

    More and more will leave to the U.S. creating another brain drain for Canada. Why would people even come here if they cant even buy a simple thing such as a house to live in. This BOC and government should actually wait until they actually see something drastic happening before taking drastic action….makes sense doesn’t it?

  • Adam 3 years ago

    Im starting to get the feeling that this bubble will never burst. Maybe the prices will stop rising or there will be a small correction but at the end it will probably still be crazy. I sometimes regret that I waited so long with buying a house.

    • Sam 3 years ago

      I purchased my first home in 2009 with a 5% down payment of $12 000.00. Then a humble rental in 2013 with a 20% dp of $30 000.00. Finally, a small duplex in 2017 with a 20% dp of $45 000.00 The renovations and effort to make these into nice rentals required a lot of sweat equity.

      My kids are in high school and college. I would be happy to forgo the crazy rise in property values to give my kids the same opportunity that I had to work hard and build equity. The only way they will have any chance is if I dip heavily into my equity to assist them. Once that happens we are all in for growing property values……

      The whole situation is a shitty treadmill of forcing debt addiction that the banks are exploiting to generate mortgages….ie…..profits. I don’t blame the banks, or other lenders. That’s what they do. I blame the GOC over the last 20 years (cons & libs….but mostly libs) for doing jack squat to regulate the system better…..

  • Ashwin 3 years ago

    We are sitting on cash and make north or 300k per annum, Still feel this market is utter nonsense. We moved here from USA 2 years back and now plan to go back. People are dumb/stupid here to spend all their fortunes in just a house.

    • Kris 3 years ago

      You’re absolutely right. Couldn’t agree more. The money poured into real estate speculation could be put to better use in other productive investments. We need a crash to unlearn this garbage mentality of treating houses like speculative investments rather than places to live. The U.S. took it’s medicine in 2008 but Canada just kept kicking the can down the road; next guys problem.

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