British Columbia's Housing Affordability Hurdles Remain Tough to Clear: RBC Economics

British Columbia's Housing Affordability Hurdles Remain Tough to Clear: RBC 
Economics 
Following deterioration earlier in 2012, B.C. sees some improvement in housing 
affordability in the third quarter 
TORONTO, Nov. 22, 2012 /CNW/ - Following back-to-back quarterly 
deteriorations, British Columbia's housing affordability saw some improvements 
in the third quarter of 2012, according to the latest Housing Trends and 
Affordability Report released today by RBC Economics Research. 
RBC notes that British Columbia's housing market has been under intense 
downward pressure this year, experiencing an 11 per cent drop in resales 
year-to-date and price declines ranging between 2.0 and 3.7 per cent in the 
third quarter. 
"While prospective buyers received some welcome relief in terms of improved 
affordability in the third quarter, lofty prices in key markets such as 
Vancouver set extremely tough hurdles to clear on the road to home ownership," 
said Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist, RBC. "It's 
important to note, however, that the situation is much less severe elsewhere 
in the province. If you look at Victoria, for instance, the share of income 
needed to carry the costs of a mortgage at market prices is almost half that 
of Vancouver." 
Although affordability in the province remains poor, measures across housing 
categories tracked by RBC showed the largest drops across Canada. RBC's 
housing affordability measures, which capture the province's proportion of 
pre-tax household income needed to service the costs of owning a home at 
market values, declined across all housing types (a decrease in the measure 
represents an improvement in affordability). 
The RBC measure for the benchmark detached bungalow fell by 3.7 percentage 
points to 66.5 per cent, the standard two-storey home eased by 3.3 percentage 
points to 71.4 percent and the measure for condominium apartments declined by 
1.3 percentage points to 34.1 per cent. 
Vancouver experiences sharp declines in measures; remains unaffordable 
"The largest improvements in housing affordability among Canada's largest 
cities in the third quarter barely dented Vancouver's status as the country's 
most expensive city in which to buy a home, and did little to stop the market 
correction that has been unfolding since spring," explained Wright. 
RBC's affordability measures for Vancouver plunged from 2.0 to 5.8 percentage 
points, representing some of the biggest quarterly declines over the past two 
years in Canada. While this improvement was welcome news for prospective 
buyers, RBC notes that the share of household budget needed to cover 
homeownership costs - at 87 per cent for a two-storey, 83 per cent for a 
bungalow and 42 per cent for a condo - is keeping ownership at hard-to-reach 
levels. 
"We expect poor affordability to continue to weigh heavily on Vancouver 
homebuyer demand and apply sustained downward pressure on home prices in the 
near term," added Wright. 
Where housing affordability stands in Canada 
RBC's housing affordability measure for the benchmark detached bungalow in 
Canada's largest cities is as follows: Vancouver 83.2 per cent (down 5.8 
percentage points from the previous quarter); Toronto 52.4 per cent (down 0.7 
percentage points); Montreal 40.2 per cent (up 0.1 percentage points); Ottawa 
38.7 per cent (down 0.4 percentage points); Calgary 38.3 per cent (down 0.7 
percentage points) and Edmonton 31.1 per cent (down 0.6 percentage points). 
The RBC Housing Affordability Measure, which has been compiled since 1985, is 
based on the costs of owning a detached bungalow (a reasonable property 
benchmark for the housing market in Canada) at market value. Alternative 
housing types are also presented, including a standard two-storey home and a 
standard condominium apartment. The higher the reading, the more difficult it 
is to afford a home at market values. For example, an affordability reading of 
50 per cent means that homeownership costs, including mortgage payments, 
utilities and property taxes, would take up 50 per cent of a typical 
household's monthly pre-tax income. 
Highlights from across Canada: 


    --  Alberta:
        Attractive affordability contributes to market renaissance
        Alberta's housing market enjoyed firm and steady resale
        activity, balanced demand-supply conditions, moderate home
        price increases, and improved housing affordability. Third
        quarter affordability measures for the province edged lower -
        between 0.2 percentage points and 0.4 percentage points
        -remaining below their long-term and the national averages.
    --  Saskatchewan:
        Little evidence of affordability strain
        Significant deteriorations in housing affordability in the
        second quarter in Saskatchewan were largely reversed in the
        third with RBC measures in the province falling between 0.9
        percentage points and 1.3 percentage points. The measures stood
        just slightly above their long term averages for all housing
        categories, indicating little in the way of undue affordability
        induced strain on the market.
    --  Manitoba
        - Market losing some of its steam; minimal pressure on
        affordability
        Declining housing prices spurred a notable improvement in
        housing affordability in Manitoba over the third quarter. RBC
        measures fell between 0.6 percentage points and 1.6 percentage
        points, which fully unwound the deterioration that occurred in
        the prior quarter. Provincial affordability levels sit slightly
        higher than their averages since the mid 1980s, but remain well
        below the corresponding national averages.
    --  Ontario:
        More balanced conditions help to ease affordability stress
        Ontario's housing affordability eased somewhat in the third
        quarter, but remains under mild pressure, most notably in the
        two-storey home segment. RBC measures declined between 0.5
        percentage points and 1.1 percentage points in the province,
        which, in effect, rolled back the two consecutive quarterly
        increases that took place in the first half of this year.
    --  Quebec:
        Second straight affordability improvement
        Housing affordability improved for the second straight quarter
        in Quebec, with RBC's measures edging lower across all housing
        types in the province, between 0.6 percentage points and 0.8
        percentage points, in the third quarter. For the most part,
        levels are only slightly worse than the average historical
        level, indicating that prospective homebuyers in Quebec may
        feel minimally stretched budget-wise, if they bought a home at
        current market prices.
    --  Atlantic:
        Affordability position remaining quite stable
        Housing affordability in Atlantic Canada improved slightly
        across the board, with RBC measures in the region inching lower
        by 0.2 percentage points to 0.7 percentage points relative to
        the previous quarter. Affordability measures have been
        reasonably stable over the past three years in the region,
        showing no discernable trends on either the up or down sides.

The full RBC Housing Trends and Affordability report is available online, as 
of 7 a.m. ET today, at rbc.com/economics/market/.

Please contact: Robert Hogue, Senior Economist, RBC Economics Research, 
416-974-6192 Elyse Lalonde, Manager, Corporate Communications, RBC Capital 
Markets, 416-842-5635

SOURCE: RBC

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CO: RBC
ST: Ontario
NI: FIN ECOSURV 

-0- Nov/22/2012 12:00 GMT