With all the information Canadians have heard about the US housing bubble and the incredible economic damage it’s bursting has caused, it’s hard to believe they would follow the same path – and yet they have. The average price of a Canadian home currently stands at $362,899 – about 70% more than in the US.
(Note: Canadian realtors typically report average prices while American realtors report median prices. Average home prices in the US are about 20-25% higher than median prices. The current median US price is $169,500 making the average US home approximately $210,000.)
According to a recent article in The Economist, Canadian house prices are 29% overvalued relative to household incomes and a staggering 71% overvalued relative to rents.
Things are even worse in Vancouver, where the latest Demographia Housing Affordability Survey ranks Vancouver the 2nd least affordable city in the English speaking world. According to the survey, the median price of a home in Seattle was $321,500 while in Vancouver it was $602,000. In the year since that survey was published, Vancouver prices have gone up another 7.8% while Seattle has gone down 7.1% – making a home in Vancouver more than twice as expensive as a comparable home in Seattle. This is in light of the fact the two cities are similar in almost every way – including incomes.
How did things get so out of whack? Same way as they did in the US – with a debt fueled housing bubble. Lesson not learned.
How will the situation resolve itself? In all likelihood the correction will also follow the path of the US – a multi-year housing crash which ruins the lives of countless Canadians and takes down much of the economy with it.