Tags: Calgary real estate, residential construction
A comparison of units under construction in Calgary against population growth can help identify if there is too much residential real estate being developed. The following graph yields some interesting conclusions:
- Residential units under construction in Calgary is at unprecedented levels, easily surpassing the residential construction rate during the early 1980’s boom.
- There are record levels of inventory in the resale market with over 13,000 units for sale in the Calgary and surrounding area. This is coupled with yet another 14,000 units under construction and due to come on the market shortly. This should be very worrying for developers. Total residential units under construction would likely need to correct by more than 30% or to roughly pre-2006 construction levels to stabilize the supply/demand balance. If inventory continues to build and starts do not drop off than the correction will become more severe.
- In general: as housing starts increase, house prices go up. As housing starts decrease, house prices go down. This graph shows a recent American example.
- The fact that housing construction has increased relative to population growth is an indicator of a developing supply glut. Residential construction should have a trendline roughly parallel to population growth.
- Alberta has one of the highest costs of living and some of the poorest housing affordability in the country so it is unclear how population growth can continue at recent high growth rates. Recent Statistics Canada information has shown Alberta as having negative interprovincial migration.
- Housing production rates are firmly coupled to house prices. The number of residential units under construction has tripled since 2000.
- There is a better correlation between house prices and units under construction than population growth and units under construction.
- High carrying costs caused by a combination of high prices and higher interest rates was the primary cause of the 1980’s real estate crash. It resulted in a foreclosure boom and housing construction levels were decimated in only 2 years.
Tags: Calgary real estate, mortgage arrears
The cyclical average for mortgage arrears in Alberta has been about 0.4%. As affordability in Alberta is the poorest since the previous real estate peak in 1990, one would expect mortgage arrears to increase to closer to the cyclical average (or more). The current low rate of mortgage arrears is reflective of the fact that as house prices rapidly increase, people have more options available such as selling or refinancing.
As time passes, and more people have purchased properties that they can marginally afford and/or poorer economic conditions develops, the amount of mortgages arrears will increase. Credit risk typically appears after house prices have stagnated or begun to fall.
The following graph shows that Alberta mortgage arrears have only recently begun to increase:
I would highly recommend to compare this graph with Mohican’s at Langley Financial Planning and Personal Sanity who originally posted a similar mortgage arrears analysis for British Columbia.
As for timing real estate transactions, it is good investment advice to be, “fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful.” Look to mortgage arrears for help in timing peaks and troughs, as high amounts of mortgage arrears can indicate a good time to buy, whereas low amounts of mortgage arrears can indicate a good time to sell.
More specifically, trend direction changes in mortgage arrears from cyclical highs or lows can indicate an inflection point in the real estate cycle.
Tags: Calgary real estate, credit markets
Changing credit conditions impacts the demand for real estate. If credit lending practices are loosened, it allows new participants to purchase real estate. The increased demand for real estate creates upward price pressure until the demand can be satiated.
Likewise, if credit lending practices are tightened, less participants can purchase real estate which reduces demand for real estate.
So how have credit conditions in Canada changed over the past couple years?
The following is a timeline of roll-outs of new CMHC products which demonstrates the rapid loosening of credit that occurred in 2006 through mid 2007:
- February 2006: CMHC to insure 30 year mortgages on a pilot basis
- June 2006: CMHC introduces 35 year mortgage and interest-only mortgage insurance
- December 2006: CMHC introduces insurance for 40 year mortgages
- September 2007: CMHC offers insurance for 100% financed investment properties
Recently, due to the turmoil in credit markets, the amount of subprime mortgages funded in Canada has dropped substantially. As an example, Xceed’s (Canadian subprime lender) funded mortgages have plummeted from $340.0 million to $65.7 million. This one lender has resulted in a quarter billion less financing for real estate in Canada over the same reporting period last year. Tightened lending standards helps explain why YoY sales volumes are down considerably.
In summary, credit conditions affect the demand for real estate, so it is prudent to pay attention to how it impacts the supply/demand balance.