The gigantic housing bubble in Toronto has affected the lives of hundreds and thousands of Canadians and is making living and working simply unaffordable. In fact, finance experts point out that this is one of the world’s bubbliest cities, with real estate prices by far outpacing economic growth.
Why Did It Happen? And What Happened?
Wealthy speculators, businesses, migrants, and international immigrants come in, invest, and hike housing costs up. Residents demand that the authorities go ahead and restrict housing and real estate purchases. Locals even demand that the government sets an extra tax and surcharge on purchases made by foreign buyers which actually happened in other countries, Singapore being one example. The fact is that wealthy immigrants and foreign investors buy estate in posh neighborhoods and expensive areas such as the Bay in West Vancouver and Vancouver Island. At the same time, Vancouver is surrounded by mountains and waters, being situated on the coast, which means that land is of limited supply. Demand for housing exceeds supply which jacks housing costs up. The average Canadian and even upper middle class residents find housing increasingly unaffordable, with average housing prices of about $1 million and higher. Spots in east Vancouver have gone from about $750,000 to well over $1.2 million in just 5 years, and a single spot at the bay in West Vancouver can easily cost you over $2 million. Real estate prices in West Vancouver have gone up by 88 percent over the last five years, and you will find real estate priced at about $2.9 CAD in Vancouver West, one of the city’s most expensive areas. Housing prices are clearly inflated, be it for single-family houses, detached homes, or flats. Statistics show that prices have gone close to 4 times or by 290 percent since 2002. In comparison, prices have gone by about 130 percent in 6 of the wealthiest and largest Canadian cities during the same period.
The Outcome and What Future Holds in Store
Some financial experts warn that the average Canadian has too much mortgage debt and as a result, subprime lenders and traditional financial institutions will lose a lot of money when real estate prices go down. This would be the result of a mix of low mortgage interest rates, speculation, money laundering, and high housing demand. A number of factors could lead to a property market collapse in a city that thrives on international real estate demand. Short-sellers are already in, making use of complex schemes and financial instruments to make quick profits from publicly traded securities going down in value. The fact is that short-sellers made profits from mortgage debt and already bet against the Canadian dollar. And in case of a global recession and economies slowing down, the housing bubble in Vancouver would bust. This is especially true for China because the majority of international buyers on the Vancouver housing market are Chinese businesses and wealthy immigrants. While Toronto and other large cities in Canada also see a flow of offshore money, Vancouver is certainly a world of its own. On the other hand, some financial experts are positive about the prospects of real estate in cities such as London, Vancouver, and New York, pointing out that they are special property markets. More and more Americans buy real estate in Vancouver as of recently. In the end, short-sellers and other speculators will be on the losing side.
As the housing bubble rages in Canada, it’s getting tougher to even find a decent place to rent. Young people just starting their independent lives are especially vulnerable financially in this situation, and might borrow too much on their credit cards just to keep afloat. It’s getting harder and harder to live within your financial means in Canada, and this is spelling trouble for future generations.
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