Vestcap Investment Management senior portfolio manager Lyle Stein recently argued that the low Canadian dollar could draw in a greater volume of foreign capital this year.
“When your dollar is low you become on sale and smart investors with all this liquidity that is coming out of the bond market and looking for a home, why not own a home in Toronto, a home in Vancouver or a home in Ottawa as an alternative asset -- and that is what we are seeing,” Stein told BNN
The increased dependence of the national economy on the health of the real estate segment might prove fatal to the floundering loonie, however.
“When you look at the Canadian economy I was stunned that seven per cent of the economy is related to housing and housing-related activity and it has been like that for the past seven or eight years; if that starts to slow we are losing one of the key growth drivers in our economy and I think that is also coming into the fray,” Stein explained. “We are putting a lot of responsibility on a very narrow sector and that to me is the bigger problem.”
In particular, a dire warning from Royal LePage—which predicted major double-digit decreases in Vancouver home prices this year—emphasized the crucial role that recent government interventions are playing on this vital cornerstone of the economy.
The B.C. government imposed its 15 per cent foreign buyers’ tax in mid-2016. Combined with far-reaching revisions to federal mortgage rules late last year, a growing number of observers and industry professionals are voicing out concerns that the Canadian residential real estate sector is poised for a significant fall.
“Twenty years ago we were talking about a low loonie and how great it was for manufacturing. We actually had a manufacturing economy back then and we do not have that today [and] what replaced manufacturing, particularly in Ontario, has been the strength in our housing market,” Stein concluded.
“If we lose strength… we could really pull the rug out from under the only pillar that is working in Ontario right now.”
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While Canadian real estate has long been attractive to enterprising Asians and Europeans who are looking to invest or park their wealth into overseas housing, an analyst stated that the long-running loonie-greenback exchange rate might make homes in Canada even more enticing for foreigners.