Affording a house getting harder: RBC 

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According to an RBC housing report housing affordability is down acrosss Canada.
— Telegram file photo

Montreal — Housing affordability continued to erode in most markets across Canada in the second quarter as a result of higher home prices and interests rates, but there were a couple of bright spots.

Alberta, in particular, solidified its position as having the most affordable housing market thanks to a significant drop in prices for electricity and natural gas, says a quarterly Royal Bank housing report.

Montreal also enjoyed improved affordability, which prompted resales to rise 8.6 per cent to reach their third-highest second quarter total, the report said.

A 17 per cent reduction in Alberta utility costs was the biggest contributor to the improvement in the cost of owning a home as a share of household income.

“Usually changes in utilities don’t do much to affordability and, in that particular case, the swing was substantial in the second quarter,” senior economist Robert Hogue said in an interview.

Attractive affordability and a vibrant economy are powerful incentives for home buying. Alberta home resales in the second quarter were the best in five years, surging 18 per cent from a year earlier.

On a national level, however, modest increases in home prices and mortgage rates slightly eroded housing affordability in the quarter.

RBC’s affordability index for a detached bungalow stood at 43.4 per cent of income nationally in the second quarter, up 0.2 percentage points from the first quarter but unchanged from a year ago.

That figure assumes an average home price of $365,200 for a 1,200-square-foot, one-storey house and $79,000 in annual qualifying in-come. Based on those figures, an owner would need to spend 43.4 per cent of annual income to pay for mortgage payments, utilities and property taxes.

The RBC housing trends report said it was the second consecutive three-month period in which the cost of owning a home as a share of household income increased following back-to-back quarterly declines in the latter half of 2011.

Affordability deteriorated in two of three housing categories — detached bungalows and two-storey homes — while condominiums were flat.

Hogue said the change was essentially the same as the previous quarter, adding the impact wasn’t particularly troubling since it was quite gradual.

But with house affordability in most parts of the country running ahead of the long-term average, possible interest rate increases next year could add to the strain on home ownership and ultimately cool housing markets.

“Considering the fact that exceptionally low interest rates were the main factor keeping affordability from dangerous levels in recent years, any increase in interest rates will add a bit of pressure and most likely lead to some deterioration going forward,” Hogue said.

 The national numbers for bungalows were exaggerated by ex-tremely poor affordability in the Vancouver area, but had little impact on two-storey homes.

The Vancouver-area continued to be, by far, the least affordable in Canada and was very close to the worst on record, as the costs associated with owning a detached bungalow at market prices rose 2.2 points to 91 per cent of annual income.

In Canada’s most expensive real-estate market, RBC assumes an owner would need $159,500 of annual income to make mortgage payments, utility costs and property taxes on a bungalow priced at $846,800.

In Montreal, the cost of ownership decreased one percentage point to 40.4 per cent of income at $63,800, and in Ottawa it was flat at 41.9 per cent of income at $89,800.

In Calgary, only about 36.7 per cent of pre-tax income would be required to pay for a standard bungalow — unchanged from the previous study — and in Edmonton the index improved by 0.1 of a percentage point to 32.4 per cent.

Qualifying income was also lower in the two Alberta cities than in Vancouver, Toronto or Ottawa, at $87,800 in Calgary and $73,000 in Edmonton.

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Recent comments

  • a business man
    September 02, 2012 - 12:45

    @What a load: you said "This is the logic of an unsuccessful "business" man. Or more commonly known as a wannabe." ......................What is with the personal attacks? can you not make an argument based on the words I used. After all, I do leave lots of words for you to work with...... Let me try to get my point across again. I am happy affording a home is getting harder, because I own numerous residential rental properties, and the fact that more people are not buying homes means more people are renting. They have to live somewhere, right? Anyway, if there are more renters, then the demand for rentals has increased while the supply of rentals has not. As a result, it is natural for the prices to go up, because there are more people chasing the rentals. Also, if there are less buyers, then as a buyer, I have less competition. That means I can offer less and try to get a better deal, and I have a wider selection given less people are playing. So in short, the fact that it is harder for most people to own a home is great news for me. I stand to make more money as a result. I understand that I have a good point and you could do nothing except respond with a personal attack. That's okay though, I understand that it is hard to refute the basic logic of supply and demand.

  • Winston Adams
    September 01, 2012 - 11:09

    Interesting , that the cost of elecrticity for houses is so important for the economy. So what will the 40 percent increase due to Muskrat Falls do to our economy and house affordability?

  • Winston Adams
    September 01, 2012 - 11:08

    Interesting , that the cost of elecrticity for houses is so important for the economy. So what will the 40 percent increase due to Muskrat Falls do to our economy and house affordability?

    • a business man
      September 02, 2012 - 12:47

      As a citizens, taxpayer and voters, I hope MFmakes owning a home even less affordable.

  • John
    August 31, 2012 - 15:37

    @ A Business Man...you come across as a conceited blowhard and not a very nice one at that.What goes around comes around as a wise man once said.

    • a business man
      September 02, 2012 - 12:52

      Yes, what goes around comes around. I went to business school and law school. I work hard everyday, and I have accumulated wealth for my family. Sure, I may not be nice, but I never said I was. YOU are right in that what goes around comes around......for example, I went to law school and business school, and now I makes lot of money, and I own lots of properties all over the country. Some are for personal use, some are rental properties. Then you have others who are unskilled and uneducated who cannot afford to own a home. To be honest, the wise man was right. what goes around DOES come around. I went to school, got an education, and I own many homes. And then those who are unskilled and uneducated are having difficulty affording their homes. Seems fair to me. Then they will lose their homes and hopefully I can buy them out of foreclosure for dirt cheap.

  • a business man
    August 30, 2012 - 00:10

    @brad: I am not really concerned about how it worked out for the Irish. I am concerned about how it works for me. Similarily, even if this does not work out for Canadians as a whole, I am confident that it will work out for me. It is simple really, if people cannot afford to buy, they will rent. If more people rent, then rent prices can be increased. It has nothing to do with the Irish. It is elementry economics.

  • a business man
    August 28, 2012 - 19:12

    homes being less affordable means less competition for those of us who can buy. for me, this is a good thing. Another reason why it is good is because as a owner and landlord of multiple properties, this means more people have to rent, which increases the demand on rental homes, which means I can charge more. Score !

    • Brad
      August 29, 2012 - 10:17

      Not necessarily true. Ask the Irish how that worked out for them.

    • What a load
      August 31, 2012 - 12:22

      This is the logic of an unsuccessful "business" man. Or more commonly known as a wannabe.

  • Mount Pearl Guy
    August 28, 2012 - 12:30

    what bothers me about these studies is that they use pre-tax income as the percentage for home ownership affordability. I'd like to know why? You pay your mortgage, utilities etc out of your net income not your gross