Modest amount of overvaluation in Canadian housing markets, CMHC says

OTTAWA – The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said there is a modest amount of overvaluation in the country’s housing markets, however other risk factors such was overheating, price acceleration, and overbuilding are not present.

In its house price analysis and assessment Monday, CMHC said overall, Canadian housing markets are “broadly consistent with underlying demographic and economic factors such as employment and interest rates.”

CMHC chief economist Bob Dugan said the risk of overvaluation is most evident in Montreal and Quebec, but added that the trend is improving.

A modest risk of overvaluation is also present in Toronto, Calgary and Halifax, he said.

“There is however a cautionary note with respect to overbuilding in Toronto and Montreal,” Dugan said in a statement.

“The number of units under construction is elevated in these centres. This could develop into overbuilding if these units are completed but not sold. To mitigate this risk, builders will need to hit the appropriate balance in channelling new demand between units that are currently under construction but not sold and units that are in the planning stage.”

Notably, CMHC did not point to Vancouver, one of the country’s hottest real estate markets as being at a risk of overvaluation.

CMHC said home prices in Vancouver are supported by local growth in personal disposable income and long-term population growth.

In a report last week, CMHC noted that after taking into account differences due to exchange rates, inflation and other factors that affect the purchasing power, Canadian home prices remain higher than those in the United States

The agency said the difference could be a cause for concern because it could indicate that house prices in Canada are overvalued.

CMHC said it was analyzing the differences, in order to understand the reasons for the price differential.

Concerns about the Canadian housing market have been among the top concerns for economists and policy-makers worried about a crash like the one seen in the U.S. during the financial crisis.

Last month, the Bank of Canada raised concerns about the “renewed vigour” it saw in the market since the summer.

However, both Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz and Finance Minister Joe Oliver have downplayed the susceptibility of the Canadian housing market.