Despite rising incomes, Ottawa-Gatineau housing affordability erodes slightly in Q3: report


Homes became less affordable for the typical Ottawa-Gatineau household in the third quarter of 2018, the fifth consecutive period of declining housing affordability in the region, the National Bank of Canada said this week.

The mortgage payment on a representative home in Ottawa-Gatineau as a percentage of income rose 0.9 points in the three-month period between July and September, the bank reported in its latest housing affordability study. That was the highest increase in any Canadian market surveyed in the report.

The median house price in the National Capital Region was $391,898 in the third quarter, up 2.5 per cent over the previous three-month period and 5.9 per cent year-over-year. That represented the biggest quarter-over-quarter increase among the 10 metropolitan areas covered in the study and the second-largest year-over-year rise.

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While median household incomes in the region grew at a “respectable” rate of 3.1 per cent compared with the same period in 2017, that was “not enough to offset the increase in home prices and interest rates,” the financial institution said.

The bank said it now requires nearly 30 months for a median-income household in Ottawa-Gatineau to save the required down-payment for a new dwelling, based on a savings rate of 10 per cent of pre-tax income ​– well above the 18-year average of 23.6 months. Despite the rise, that was still the third-lowest span among all cities surveyed and less than a tenth of Vancouver’s mark of 337.5 months.

The median price of a condo rose 3.2 per cent in the National Capital Region last quarter to $255,563, while buyers paid an average of $423,657 for non-condos, a hike of 2.4 per cent.

Nationally, the bank said housing became less affordable in nine out of the 10 Canadian cities it surveyed in the third quarter. The study said that despite a drop in median home prices in Toronto and Vancouver compared with the previous quarter, housing affordability in the country’s two most expensive urban areas “failed to improve as wages were down in those markets.”

Mortgage payments as a percentage of household income rose 0.3 percentage points on a national basis, the bank reported. The rate increased by 0.9 points for condos and fell 0.2 points for all other housing types.   

“Looking at the national picture, while a significant portion of homebuyers have been priced out of single-family homes, demand is currently strong for condos as shown by prices rising 6.8 per cent over the past year,” the authors wrote. “As a result, the affordability deterioration was more pronounced in this segment (vs. non-condo) in each of the last four quarters.”

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