Toronto Suburban Real Estate Is 76% Overvalued, Highest In All of Canada: BMO

Canadian real estate prices are the most overvalued in decades, but not all markets are equal. Earlier this week, we shared BMO data showing Canadian homes were 38% overvalued. Today we’re sharing a regional breakdown, showing where the widest trend deviations are. Most regions are overvalued, but nowhere is even close to Greater Toronto.

Canadian Real Estate Is The Most Overvalued In Ontario

Canadian real estate prices are now pushed to the limit but nowhere is like Ontario. Home prices were 55.4% overvalued in Q1 2022, driving the national trend. The last time a trend deviation this large occurred, it took a whopping 15 years to complete a correction.

A significant share of this froth is concentrated in and around the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). But first, it’s probably important to understand why corrections are needed.

Corrections Serve A Useful Purpose and Can’t Be Avoided, Only Delayed At A Greater Expense

When shelter costs rise too high, they divert capital from the productive economy. Housing is technically called a non-productive investment, since it doesn’t produce anything. It doesn’t matter if you spend $500k or $1 million, it would serve the same purpose for an end user.

Debt is your future income used today. The larger mortgages become, the more future income buyers are borrowing. In other words, you’ve already spent a big share of the economy’s future labor value. The more indebted households are, the more the economy will see slow growth. This is also true with rents.

Shelter costs are extremely important by age as well. Younger adults spend a much higher share of their income on goods and services than older ones. Since one person’s spending is another person’s income, this is how economies grow. It’s also how long-term value creation is made, also boosting asset prices. This is real growth, as opposed to artificially stimulated growth through increased leverage.

Eventually an economy faces one of two options:

1. Prices fall in real terms and the economy’s healthy balance is restored quickly.

2. Prices continue to disconnect through policy intervention until systemic failure. Then you’re looking at a much longer downturn, often accompanied by a financial crisis. 

We’ll discuss this more in detail next week, but the point is, it’s not as easy as just propping up values ongoing. The economy is essentially on life support during a bubble. Do you want to operate and deal with a recovery, or pump it full of adrenaline and see what happens?

Now, back to Toronto.

Toronto Real Estate Is 41% Overvalued, Suburbs Up To 74%

Greater Toronto real estate may be the most overvalued it has ever been. GTA home prices were 41.2% overvalued in Q1 2022, a finding consistent with data we shared from Moody’s Analytics (43.6%). Most of the region is overvalued, but the bulk of this froth is located in Toronto’s suburban areas.

BMO broke Toronto’s suburbs down into cottage country and exurbs (don’t worry, we’ll explain what that is). Cottage country (63.6% overvalued) hasn’t seen anything like this before. This region includes Bancroft, Kawarthas, Muskoka-Haliburton, and South Georgian Bay. Last year they warned corporate clients buying in the area, to make sure they love the home. With such steep over-valuations, a correction could mean holding it longer than planned.

The exurbs are pushing the highest level of overvaluation in the country. An exurb is a major city’s distant suburbs, typically with a fraction of the density. They observed 73.6% overvaluation in these markets. They defined the region as Barrie, Guelph, Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Niagara, Orillia, St. Catharines, and Windsor.

The gap between home prices flattening across a region is a often a bubble warning. Buyers are reducing the premium for amenities to buy whatever their mortgage allows. The assumption is amenities in the area will catch up later. However, they’re pricing in years of future growth. 

BC, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada Are All More Than 20% Overvalued

The rest of Canada’s frothy markets almost seem like a deal compared to Toronto. Quebec (32.6% overvalued) and Atlantic Canada (34.7%) used to be affordability hubs. Now they only look affordable relative to Ontario. 

British Columbia (BC) is always surprising, since home prices are so steep. BC (21.4%) is very overvalued but not nearly to the extent as say, Ontario. Moody’s had the region near fair value, which may also shock people in Vancouver or Victoria. Hard to believe, we know.

Canada’s Prairies Are Mostly Undervalued, But Don’t Tell Ontario Before They Ruin It

Believe it or not, some provinces managed to maintain healthy valuations. Both Alberta (-5.0%) and Saskatchewan (-3.4%) were undervalued in Q1 2022. Over in Manitoba (12.3%), the market is still overvalued. However, it’s small enough that a regular market fluctuation can work that out. 

Most of Canada’s real estate markets are significantly overvalued, as buyers price in years of growth. Nowhere is that more true than Greater Toronto — ask around and many will explain it’s the next NYC. From Windsor to Pickering, people think Manhattan skylines will cover a region 178x larger than NYC. It’s unclear how many of those people know the median sale price across Greater Toronto (C$1,098,000) is now higher than NYC (C$971,000). Don’t tell them, it’ll be much better as a surprise.

19 Comments

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  • Sherif Nathoo 6 months ago

    How much is BMO paying you guys to get a voice!!

    • Mortgage Guy 6 months ago

      Probably the same as they pay you to be illiterate.

  • Jimbo 6 months ago

    People laugh when they hear prices need to fall 50% in Toronto, but that’s not too far off is it?

  • Trader Jim 6 months ago

    Excellent explanation of why corrections are essential and the public mindset pushes us to failure.

    Central bankers used to be the adult in the room. Now they think their job is to make people happy and ignore the free market.

    • Ian Brown 6 months ago

      The public is going to be really surprised when they find out Tiff ignored all of his economic signs and had no clue because he makes over half a mill per year and had a $4mn Toronto home. 😂

      • Geer 6 months ago

        None of these predictions about market values ever comes true.

        • Credit Guy 6 months ago

          Literally all of them did, people just forget that Vancouver is only slightly more expensive than it was in 2017 because that’s not convenient for their mind to understand.

  • Mortgage Guy 6 months ago

    Loving the TikToks. Was missing the YouTube vids but these are way easier to consume. My complements to the (video) chefs.

    • GTA Landlord 6 months ago

      No wonder none of these “landlords” can make a cash flow positive deal.

      Looking forward to the piece on why corrections are necessary. Always a pleasure to read your insights.

  • Yoroshiku 6 months ago

    “The last time a trend deviation this large occurred, it took a whopping 15 years to complete a correction.”

    I don’t really understand what this means. What is involved in ‘completing a correction’?

    • Ethan Wu 6 months ago

      A correction means it drops more than 10% and the correction is completed when it returns to its previous level. i.e. the US correction started in 2006 and ended in 2019 I think when it retook the old value but fundamentals had caught up. Is that what you were asking?

    • Geer 6 months ago

      That’s how long it took for their prediction to be right. They are pretending they know the future. You would think they would be rich if they knew the future.

      • Bruno 6 months ago

        You mean the bank where the CFO sold his home when they said home prices are overvalued in 2017, prices dropped 20% and then they bought a new one? The one where these guys all earn 7-figures per year? You think they’d be rich if they only bought a condo? LOL

  • Axel McLion 6 months ago

    Alberta and Saskatchewan are undervalued, until you factor in the crappy climate and location that nobody wants to live in, then they become overvalued just like the rest of Canada. Don’t imagine that prices don’t fall in the prairies as they fall everywhere else. Tons of people would be ecstatic to sell and move to the now-affordable BC or ON. These articles about AB and SK being undervalued are wrong, or perhaps someone talking their book.

  • NationalRock 6 months ago

    > Housing is technically called a non-productive investment, since it doesn’t produce anything. It doesn’t matter if you spend $500k or $1 million, it would serve the same purpose for an end user.

    It sure produces solid and increasing RENT for an end-user. And even more rent as **more and more people cannot afford to buy and therefore have to rent**.

    Whoever wrote the BMO report has obviously never done *investments* in real estate. At best maybe bought a home for self, in which case yeah, would “serve the same purpose” for the end-user: a live-in home.

    > The larger mortgages become, the more future income buyers are borrowing.

    The big assumption here is that everyone depends on future income to buy. The mortgages do not get larger for rich people and companies with cash and capital. They just get lesser competition from people that depend on mortgages to buy.

    > The more indebted households are, the more the economy will see slow growth. This is also true with rents.

    Literally the next paragraph after the comment on rents:

    > Since one person’s spending is another person’s income, this is how economies grow.

    That is how rent works right? One person pays rent, which becomes another person’s income. So which is it? Is this just a new hire writing a self-conflicting report/article as long as the lines sound “cheesy and smart”? Do they have actual experience in analyzing financial markets before this job?

    • A.Millenial 6 months ago

      “Hey everyone, let’s just raise the price of everything. That way everyone gets to be rich!”

      The value provided by housing (ie. a place to live) is the same regardless of whether or not people are paying too much for it. Just because someone gets to charge someone else for rent, that doesn’t increase the value that the housing provides to the market. In fact, it takes money out of the hands of people who might have invested in a productive asset.

  • Will 6 months ago

    If GTA is 41% overvalued, but the suburbs are 74% overvalued does that mean that downtown is close to properly valued? It would be great to see a map of how over valued different areas are.

  • Bon 6 months ago

    I do not understand an article about Canadian housing that does not include the CAPITAL OF THE COUNTRY. Whoever wrote this should go back to school and learn how to write a comprehensive article.

Comments are closed.