Higher mortgage rates are taking a bite out of Canadian housing affordability

The Bank of Canada has been hiking interest rates all year, and Canada’s big banks have been raising mortgage rates accordingly. The result? A nationwide deterioration in housing affordability, according to a new report from Desjardins.

The growth of the average property sale price in the majority of Canadian metropolitan areas increased in the third quarter of 2018, outpacing the average household after-tax income.

“This tightening of access to property is due to stricter conditions for obtaining a mortgage, while mortgage rates have been rising for several months,” reads the Desjardins report. “The capacity of households to buy a home has therefore dropped across Canada.”

The report notes that affordability levels remain below their historical average, meaning that buying a home was more difficult in Q3 2018 than it was on average over the last 20 years.

The story is worse for some markets than others. Quebec has seen affordability deteriorate, as strong immigration numbers and a hot job market draw more buyers to the region.

“Accessibility [in the province] deteriorated the most in Sherbrooke,” reads the report. “This was the result of a sustained rise in the average home sale price while average household after-tax income stagnated. In Montreal, the shrinking [affordability index] was primarily due to a drop in average household after-tax income.”

The report names Toronto and London as two other major metro areas that saw affordability deteriorate last quarter, as home prices rose. Calgary also suffered a drop in affordability, due to higher costs for taking possession of a home, including property taxes and utilities.

But it wasn’t all bad news — access to property improved in Vancouver, where household after-tax income grew by 2.7 percent, outpacing a 0.9 percent rise in the average home sale price.

Sarah Niedoba