Canada may face housing bust: Robert Shiller

I hate to keep bringing bad news to the blog. Of course this is just another opinion. Robert Shiller is predicting that real estate markets in Calgary and Vancouver will be hurt the most if there is a serious down-turn in housing prices.

Canada may face housing bust: Robert Shiller

The Canadian housing market could face a similar housing bust to the United States, particularly in more bubbly markets as Vancouver and Calgary, said Robert Shiller, the Yale University professor who predicted both the 1990s stock market boom and bust and the US housing slump.

Mr. Shiller, co-founder of the S&P Case/Shiller Home Price Index, said psychology is the primary driver of bubbles and it appears that Canada has been caught up with home buying fever just as the United States and other countries around the world.

Asked whether that meant Canada could face a similar bust Mr. Shiller said: “Yes, especially in places that went up a lot like Vancouver and Calgary. I don’t think Toronto has been quite as extreme.”

Mr. Shiller said there was a natural connection between the United States and Canada.

“I would be surprised that the bubble that appeared in the United States and elsewhere didn’t appear in Canada,” he said in an interview with the Financial Post. “It’s psychology, I think that drives it.

Mr. Shiller, whose book Irrational Exuberance came out in March 2000 just as the tech bubble peaked, said it was essential for the U.S. government to pass a financial bailout, though he believes the United States is facing a “severe recession,” regardless.

“I’m concerned problems are deeper than can be handled by the bailout but that doesn’t mean the bailout doesn’t do some good,” he said.

He said a bailout might help restore some confidence to the stressed financial system.

“What creates a crisis is a lack of confidence,” he said.

He said the housing crisis was primarily a policy failure by U.S. authorities.

You can read the rest of the story below.

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Harper disagrees with pessimistic report on Canadian housing market.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper disagrees with a report issued By Merrill Lynch Canada.

Harper disagrees with pessimistic report on Canadian housing market.

“The report, issued Wednesday by Merrill Lynch Canada economists David Wolf and Carolyn Kwan, said many Canadian households are more financially overextended than their counterparts in the U.S. or Britain.”

“They said it’s only a matter of time before the “tipping point” is reached and the housing and credit markets crack in Canada.”

Fewer new MLS residential listings in August.

Fewer new MLS residential listings in August

MLS new residential listings in Canada’s major markets retreated in August 2008 from record levels in the previous four months, according to statistics released by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). With new listings down from the peak, the resale housing market is stabilizing.

After four consecutive months in which new MLS residential listings topped 50,000 units, some 47,657 homes were listed via MLS on a seasonally adjusted basis in August 2008. This is a decline of 5.3 per cent compared to the previous month. New listings having eased in many major centres, and now stand at their lowest level this year.

This trend has been most evident in Calgary and Edmonton, where fewer new listings and rising sales activity have stabilized the resale housing market. New listings remain most elevated relative to sales activity in Saskatoon and Vancouver, making them the most balanced major markets in the country.

Seasonally adjusted MLS sales activity in Canada’s major markets edged down by 3.4 per cent on a month-over-month basis to 24,887 units in August 2008. The number of transactions was down in every market except Calgary, Edmonton and Regina, with Vancouver posting the largest decline in sales activity.

Sales activity in August was down from year-ago levels in the five most expensive major markets in Canada – Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Toronto and Edmonton. As a result, the overall major market MLS residential average price posted another year-over-year decline in August, despite the fact that average prices recorded year-over-year gains in 20 of 25 major markets.

“When comparing statistics, remember 2007 was a record year for real estate sales in Canada,” says CREA President Calvin Lindberg. “In light of that fact, our current market can certainly be characterized as stable.”

“The Canadian market fundamentals are still solid, and mortgage rates are still at near record low levels,” the CREA President adds. “The challenge is for sellers to price their home to meet the local market realities, and for buyers to realize there is no real estate bubble that will burst and send prices to new lows.”

The average sale price of residential properties sold via MLS was $316,052 in August. This is 5.1 per cent below where it stood in August last year. Five major markets saw year-over-year declines in average price in August: Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, and Windsor.

“Price declines in the pricier major markets are pulling down the overall average price,” said CREA Chief Economist Gregory Klump. “Significantly lower sales activity in Greater Vancouver compared to a year ago means that the most expensive market in Canada now has less weight in the overall average price calculation,” he explained.

“Sales activity is down in a number of resale housing markets in Western Canada that earlier posted hefty price increases. Prices continue rising in other markets where price gains have been more modest,” said Klump. (CREA 15/09/08)

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