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2180 Steeles Avenue West,
Suite 204, Concord,
ON, L4K 2Z5

Phone:     905-761-7001
Toll Free: 1855-761-7001
Fax:          905-761-7005

Email: mortgageadvisor@rogers.com

11 January 2018

Household debt levels in Canada are not that terrifying

The current record high level of household debt in Canada caused speculations about a possible market bubble. However, one of the country’s largest commercial lenders says the situation is not so terrifying.

According to National Bank of Canada, the household debt ratios and the sharp prices increase in Canada are not so abnormal if we compare them with other members of Group of Seven. In fact, the Canadian economy is expanding at the fastest pace among all of them, and the employment growth is extremely strong.

Although real estate prices in Toronto and Vancouver rose sharply in recent years and Canada’s debt-to-disposable income ratio reached its record high level, the numbers don’t look so abnormal when compared with other cities, e.g. London or Hong Kong, where prices and ratios are even higher, National Bank economists Stéfane Marion and Matthieu Arseneau noted in a new report.

In addition to it, population growth will also keep supporting the national economy, especially as immigration policy pushes demand for real estate in the fastest-growing markets.

“After monitoring employment, population growth, homeownership, immigration, education and the stability of the welfare system, we can say the ratio of household debt to disposable income in the country is relatively conservative,” – they said. “It may reflect the general effect from all the measures taken for reducing the vulnerability of the financial system to real estate indebtedness.”

Canadian borrowers got used to benefitting from cheap credit in order to increase their expenses on homes and cars. As a result, the ratio of household debt to disposable income exceeded 170%. An interest hike from the central bank (possible even the next week) will make it more difficult for the borrowers to pay off their $1.5 trillion in mortgage debts.

In the same time, rate increase forecasts have cooled slightly because of a dark outlook for NAFTA negotiations. Last month, Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said high debt level made the economy more vulnerable to rate hikes than in the past. This month’s new mortgage rules also make it more difficult for certain buyers to afford a home purchase, and it will affect price growth, which has already weakened in Toronto and Vancouver recently.



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