Canada undercounting its population will have significant impact on real estate: CIBC's Tal
The housing market may not be losing steam any time soon. Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist at CIBC, said he anticipates a post-pandemic population boom that will strengthen the demand for rental units and housing.
"I don’t see a collapse in the housing market. Prices are high and unfortunately, they will remain high even after COVID," Tal said in a television interview. "That’s the reality of the situation in the Canadian housing market until we fix the supply issue that is really impacting valuation in big cities."
While there was some weakness in certain real estate segments during the pandemic, including rentals and the downtown Toronto condo market, Tal said this is a "healthy softness" in a more balanced market. He added that major Canadian cities are not currently seeing the same level of speculative demand that drove up prices in 2016 and 2017.
Tal added that Canada may be miscounting its population growth, creating a blind spot for the housing demand outlook. The census issue existed before the pandemic and revolved around Canadian citizens returning to the country from places like the U.S. and Hong Kong. These returning citizens, he believes, will be a strong driver in future housing demand.
"We didn’t know the numbers because, quite frankly, Stats Canada does not capture the number of people returning to Canada… they really do not distinguish between tourists and returning citizens."
Tal said the most important thing is to properly compile the census and capture those missing from the data. The underestimated population growth is the missing piece of the puzzle in the Canadian real estate story, joined by low interest rates and pent up demand.
"Overall, I suggest that this is part of the puzzle. It’s not the whole puzzle."