Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz doesn’t think a rate hike would make a dent in the speculative activity rippling through Canada’s hottest housing market. In an interview on BNN, Poloz said his bank’s monetary policy is no match for the lure of scorching annual returns in Toronto real estate.

“The fact is, when you’re looking at making an investment that you think will make you 20 per cent or more over the next 12 months, and you have to borrow the money to make that investment, is a quarter point or a half of point going to make a difference to that decision?” he said. “I don’t think even a five percentage point difference would take you away from that.”

Poloz said the other issue to consider in assessing the impact of a rate move is whether speculators are taking out loans to purchase homes, as a rate hike would not impact cash transactions.   

“Speculation grows, and it’s fueled by actual money, not by credit -- so [speculative homebuying has] got very little to do with the cost of credit,” he said.

Poloz said at a certain point the market will exhaust its run higher, as eventually benchmark prices will exceed the threshold at which consumers can obtain a mortgage.

“Housing is not like a regular financial market. If you wanted to speculate on the stock market, you could continually, incrementally add to your position. Well in housing, they come in pretty big chunks. It reaches a point when if you don’t have the money and you’re borrowing for that, well, they’re not going to lend it to you because it’s just too big of a number,” he said. “That’s why I think the Vancouver market rolled over some months before the tax moves that were designed to moderate it.”

“It’s like exhaustion, but it happens more likely in housing because it’s in these big chunks. You actually in the end have to buy the house, you can’t just add 10 per cent to your position on housing.”