Canada's Oil Price Shock Means Better Prairie Borrowers for CMHCby
Average credit scores of Alberta home buyers is rising
Volumes and overall share of mortgages on prairies is down
The oil price shock has a silver lining for Canada’s state-owned housing agency: the quality of home buyers in energy-rich provinces is actually improving.
The average credit score for a typical Alberta home buyer was 742 for the first three quarters of 2015, up from 740 in the same period a year earlier, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. data published on Friday show. The data refers to “transactional” buyers, those purchasing residential properties containing four or fewer units.
The figures, which also show declining volumes in energy-rich provinces, suggests the oil shock is pushing the least credit-worthy buyers out of the real estate market. Canadian energy companies have fired at least 36,000 workers, according to an October estimate from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, as a crude price slump that’s lasted 17 months shows no sign of ending.
"Volumes are slightly down, but the actual quality of the business is slightly higher," Steven Mennill, the CMHC’s senior vice-president of insurance, said in a call with reporters.
Average credit scores also increased by one point in energy-rich Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador. Those provinces remain below the national average credit score of buyers of 747, as does Alberta.
Alberta made up 19.1 percent of overall loans insured during the nine-month period, down from 20.2 a year earlier. Volumes in Saskatchewan fell to 3.2 from 3.8, and Newfoundland and Labrador dropped to 1.1 from 1.4.
The arrears rate in Alberta, the heart of Canada’s oil patch, rose to 0.28 percent, from 0.24 percent in the same quarter a year earlier, remaining below the national average of 0.35 percent, CMHC data show. Saskatchewan’s increased to 0.54 percent from 0.4 percent, and Newfoundland’s climbed to 0.35 percent from 0.22 percent.
While the Alberta arrears rate remains below the national average, signaling only a modest impact to date from the oil shock on Canada’s housing sector, the Ottawa-based agency expects arrears to continue increasing if economic malaise persists.