How housing affordability is declining

One chart you really need to keep an eye on in 2017

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For the third year in a row Maclean’s asked economists, investors, analysts and financial commentators to submit what they think will be an important chart Canadians should watch in the year ahead—and they delivered, in spades. Here is just one of the many charts that help paint the picture of Canada’s economy for the upcoming year. Larry MacDonald picked this Bank of Canada Housing Affordability Index chart to show the likelihood of a housing market collapse based on historical data. See his insight below.

Larry-Macdonald - housing affordability

“The Bank of Canada’s Housing Affordability Index remains the indicator to watch in 2017 because if Canadians can no longer afford to own a house, it would dampen residential construction and undermine a key prop holding up the economy—not to mention possibly even endanger the financial system through rising mortgage defaults. The index, which tracks the proportion of disposable income that a representative Canadian family spends on carrying a mortgage and utilities, has indeed trended upward in recent quarters. But it remains below its long-term average, suggesting a downturn in the housing market is not imminent at the national level. Should the upward trend continue and approach the index’s peaks reached in the early 1980s and 1990s, a tumble in the housing market would be a distinct risk given how house prices cratered after those peaks occurred.”

—Larry MacDonald, financial author. Twitter: @Larry_MacDonald

See all 75 Charts Canadians Should Watch in 2017 on Maclean’s. Learn more on the state of Canada’s housing market, the economy and how our country will do under the reign of Donald Trump with these 75 charts, each with an explanation from an expert.


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