Housing: a tale of two countries

February 16, 2012 | By | Reply More

Cities that are raising eyebrows are Toronto and Vancouver

American housing markets are rebounding, Canadian markets could be trouble in the coming months

Troy Media – by ATB Financial     

The American housing market was ground zero for the great recession, while the Canadian housing market helped steer the Canadian economy through the worst of it.



Today, the two real-estate markets again appear to be pointed in starkly different directions.

US housing on the rebound

For the past three months the economic news coming out of the United States has been surprisingly resilient and the housing market is no different.

The National Association of Home Builders today released the builders’ confidence survey numbers for February, putting the index at its highest level in years.

Given the depths of the problems in America’s housing market, it is way too soon to declare victory, but the index is certainly a positive sign. The backlog of foreclosed homes is still enormous and might actually increase now that most states have agreed to the settlements with the largest banks on mortgage fraud.

This provides more legal certainty on foreclosures, but some of that will be offset by increased mortgage relief being offered to homeowners.

North of the 49th parallel the housing news has been different. The Canadian Real Estate Association published numbers this morning showing home sales were down 4.5 per cent in January over December, but average prices had risen 2 per cent over this time last year.

The market is slowing and, depending on who you listen to, the market will either plug along at about the same rate or dip further, perhaps far further (nobody is expecting it to really accelerate).

Thankfully for Alberta, the cities that are raising eyebrows are Toronto (where there are three times as many high-rise developments planned than in New York City!) and Vancouver, not Calgary and Edmonton.


Category: Business

About the Author ()

Markham began his journalism career writing columns in the mid-1980s for Western People Magazine, then reported for a small Saskatchewan daily. He has spent most of his career in media and communications, likes to dabble in politics, was actively involved in economic development for many years, thinks that what goes on in the community is just as important as what happens provincially and nationally, and has a soft spot for small business (big business, not so much). Markham is a bit of a contrarian and usually has a unique take on the events of the day.

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