Ed Power, president of the eastern Avalon branch of the Canadian Home Builders Association was guest speaker at a Rotary luncheon meeting at the Fairmont Newfoundland hotel Thursday. He spoke on the current state of the province's housing industry. Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram
According to Ed Power, the housing industry isn't going to be slowing down any time soon.
Speaking at the St. John's Rotary Club lunch on Thursday, the president of the Canadian Home Builders' Association, Eastern Avalon branch, talked about the explosive growth in the industry, the problems that come with that as well as some of the solutions.
"We're going to be into long periods to construct a house; we're now up to six months - eight, nine months - I think it's going to be that way for some time," Power said. "We have sustained housing activity here that you don't see across Canada."
Power said that there may have been a bit of a housing bubble last year, but if so it has burst, and housing prices are being driven up by simple market forces.
"I think the level of activity now across the province of 2,500 or 2,700 houses per year will be sustained," he said. "I think what's happening now is that the price changes more clearly have been cost push rather than demand pull changes."
In the frenetic development climate, Power said that he faces a slew of problems, from labour shortages and thefts to a decrease in affordable housing. He said that the underground economy is one of the biggest issues.
"It's in the tens of millions of dollars a year through lost or stolen product," he said. "I had people going around with phones going in and out of my houses telling somebody what was there 'are you interested' sort of thing."
Power told Rotarians that one of the major pushes on the housing industry is that population growth and net in-migration, many former Newfoundlanders living away. While those people may have originally come from smaller rural communities, the vast majority move to urban centres, driving development.
The important people for people to understand, Power said, is that a person can't expect a new house right away. It's routine for it to take anywhere between six and 15 months.