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Canadian housing may be most overvalued in the world, says The Economist



(Photo illustration: David Stuart/Getty; iStock)

According to The Economist’s latest house-price indicators, published Friday, Canada may have the most overvalued housing in the world. The news magazine used a price-to-rents ratio to determine that Canada suffers from a “whopping 78% overvaluation.”

The next highest on the list is Hong Kong, at 69%. The lowest is Japan, whose market is undervalued by 37%.  America’s is undervalued by 7%.

The other metric used, price-to-income, doesn’t really paint a rosier picture for Canada. By this measure, the Canadian market is overvalued by 34%, second only to France at 35%.

If a rough correction is in store for Canadians, then, as the article puts it, Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney “may have shown good market timing with his move to London.”

But whether or not a serious correction is beginning—or already here—remains a contentious notion. According to the latest StatsCan report, the house-price index rose 0.1% in November. The main contributor, says StatsCan, was Ontario, specifically Toronto and Oshawa. But Vancouver, notorious for being the most expensive market in Canada, saw a decline, as did its provincial neighbour, Victoria.

Indeed, on the other end of the spectrum, Canadian Business’s sister magazine, Maclean’s, is saying a crash, or at least a correction, has already begun. One of the big warning signs for a looming drop in prices is a decrease in sales, which, as this graphic shows, is apparent in every major city across Canada—with the exception of Calgary.

Whether that drop in sales portends a crash, a correction or a blip remains to be seen. That said, The Economist’s latest data is ammunition for the bears.

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