Goal of avoiding a housing bubble in Canada has been realized: National Bank CEO
Canadian housing markets still need mortgage stress tests as Canada’s political leaders look to offer new housing policies ahead of Monday’s federal election, according to National Bank of Canada’s chief executive officer.
“The so-called B-20 rule has been put in place now [for] almost a year,” Louis Vachon said in a Wednesday interview with BNN Bloomberg. “I think we need to give a little bit more time to go by to assess how it’s impacting different markets in different parts of the country.”
For Vachon, the last part of that statement is key to determining how to regulate housing in the country: focus on regional markets instead of one national policy.
“I keep repeating that all the time, especially to foreign investors: There is no such thing as the Canadian real estate market,” he said.
“Canada is so big and there are big differences between what’s going on in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto, or the western provinces. So, you really have to look at different markets.”
The Canadian Real Estate Association reported a 0.6 per cent month-over-month rise in housing unit sales in September, taking the country’s annual transactions to a 16-per-cent rise over the past year.
The mortgage stress tests put in place by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions took hold at the beginning of 2018. Conservative leader Andrew Scheer's pledged last month to ease rules around the stress test, including allowing first-time property buyers to take out 30-year mortgages.
With Canadians heading to the polls on Monday to determine which party forms the next federal government, Vachon said he was open to examining how the stress tests could be deployed differently in Canada’s major cities.
More important for Vachon, though, is the notion of spreading some of Canada’s population outside of a few major urban centres.
“Housing is highly affordable in 95 per cent of the country. So, how do you get people to live and to work outside of the major metropolitan areas in the country?” Vachon asked.
“I think that would be an important question to answer.”