Wednesday, October 24, 2007

CMHC's new snapshot of Canadian housing

CMHC's new snapshot of Canadian housing

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) recently released its annual state of the nation report on housing. The 2007 Canadian Housing Observer says building greener homes in higher-density neighbourhoods near public transit, rather than in sprawling suburbs, is key to reducing the housing sector's impact on the environment and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

The 2007 Canadian Housing Observer analyzes the relationship between environment-friendly housing construction, neighbourhood design and transportation. It found that downtown living, which provides easy access to workplaces, schools, and shops, as well as housing located close to public transit, lead to reduced automobile use. Also, better design of the suburbs results in less short-distance driving and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

The 2007 Canadian Housing Observer also examines recent trends in affordable housing, housing finance and market developments. A key conclusion about the living conditions of Canadians, which is based on new CMHC information, found that the level of Canadians living in core housing need has declined slightly from 13.9 per cent in 2002 to 13.6 per cent in 2004. Core housing need is defined as "Households which occupy housing that falls below dwelling adequacy, suitability or affordability standards, and which spends 30 per cent or more of their before-tax income for the median rent of alternative local market housing that meets all three standards."

Other key findings of this year's Canadian Housing Observer include:
- Housing-related spending grew by 6.1 per cent in 2006, contributing more than $275 billion to the Canadian economy;
- Total mortgage credit outstanding in 2006 reached an annual average of $694 billion, up 10.7 per cent from 2005. This is mainly due to increased property values, which in turn increased the average mortgage amount approved;
- All of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in recent years were in Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia, with the exceptions of Moncton, N.B. and Sherbrooke, Québec.
- Canada's population grew at a slightly faster pace in recent years than in the late 1990s mainly due to increased immigration. Senior, immigrant and Aboriginal groups are growing more rapidly than the general population. From 2001 to 2006, the vast majority (86 per cent) of population growth took place in metropolitan areas.
- The number of households in Canada owning second homes, vacation homes, or cottages reached 1.1 million in 2005, about 200,000 more than in 1999. From 1990 to 2004, high-income earners enjoyed much stronger income growth than those with low incomes. From 1999 to 2005, the average net worth of households in Canada, after adjusting for inflation, grew at an annual rate of more than four per cent. Increased equity in real estate played a major role in this increase.
- In 2006, the proportion of gross domestic product spent on housing increased to 19.1 per cent compared to 18.9 per cent the previous year.
- Total spending on housing renovations, repair and maintenance reached $43.9 billion in 2006, an increase of nine per
cent compared to 2005.
- From a record low of 5.99 per cent in 2005, mortgage rates rose to an average posted rate of 6.66 per cent for a five-year term mortgage in 2006. They were still low by historical standards. CMHC's 2006 Mortgage Consumer Survey found that the majority of mortgage consumers (84 per cent) were satisfied with the services they received when negotiating their current mortgage. About 70 per cent of mortgage consumers prefer to use one of the major lending institutions to obtain a mortgage.
- Urban households in British Columbia and Ontario continued to experience a high level of core housing need between 2002 and 2004. One-person households accounted for almost half (46.7 per cent) of Canadian urban households in core housing need, up from 43.7 per cent in 2002. The incidence of core housing need among senior-led urban households declined from 15.4 per cent in 2002 to 13.9 per cent in 2004. The percentage of immigrant urban tenant households in core housing need increased to 36.3 per cent in 2004 from 34.4 per cent in 2002.
- The 20 per cent of households having the lowest incomes accounted for about 81 per cent of all urban households in core housing need in 2004, up from about 78 per cent in 2002. Courtesy of R.Paul Chadwick TD/CT

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