New study shows housing affordability in Saskatoon on a serious slide: Demographia

Saskatoon homes have taken a serious slide in affordability over the past year, landing us in the “Moderately Unaffordable” category according to the Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey: 2008.

The survey, prepared by Pavletich Properties Ltd. compares median incomes in 227 markets around the world to median housing prices for the area. Their method of measuring affordability is based on a “median multiple” which is arrived at by dividing the median price of a home by the median income for each municipality. A “median” is the number separating the higher half of a sample from the lower half. For instance, if the median price of a home in Saskatoon is $212,900, we can assume that half of all homes sold here sell above that number and the other half below.

In their 2007 survey, which was based on data from the third quarter of 2006, Saskatoon was tied for 15th on the “Most Affordable” list. At that time, the median Saskatoon income was $52,100 and the median price of a home in the city was $138,000. Buyers could expect to pay about 2.6 times annual income for a home.

Just one year later, the median income has shown good growth to $60,900 but the median price of a home has risen sharply to $212,900, or 3.5 times annual income, moving us to 77th place internationally on the “Moderately Unaffordable” list.

In spite of some deterioration in affordability, Regina managed to maintain its place on the “Most Affordable” list sliding from first place to 12th place, while seeing their median multiplier increase from 2.0 to 2.4. Neither incomes, nor housing prices increased in Regina to the degree that they did in Saskatoon.

Thunder Bay was noted as the most affordable place to own a home out of all of the markets surveyed. You can purchase a residence there for only 1.8 times annual income. Other Canadian markets making the “Most Affordable” list include Saguenay, St. John, St. John’s, Windsor, Quebec, Trois-Rivieres, Winnipeg, Sudbury, London, Oshawa and Ottawa.

Canada’s “Moderately Unaffordable” markets include Barrie, Halifax, Kingston, Kitchener-Waterloo, Sherbrook, Hamilton, St. Catherines-Niagara and Montreal.

Markets landing in the “Seriously Unaffordable” category include Edmonton, Calgary, and Toronto.

The “Severely Unaffordable” list includes Abbotsford, Victoria, Vancouver and Kelowna which is billed as the least affordable market to own a home in Canada. Kelowna home buyers can expect to pay 8.5 times annual income for a home.

In Los Angeles, California a home costs 11.5 times annual income making it the least affordable place in the world to own a home.

Deteriorating housing affordability is a major issue around the world and a leading contributor to the growing gap between the world’s rich, and the poor. In the introduction to this report, Dr. Donald Brash writes, “And the one factor which clearly separates all of the urban areas with high median multiples from those with low median multiples is the severity of the artificial restraints on the availability of land for residential building…Despite all of the evidence, governments continue to pretend that they are powerless to make housing more affordable or, worse still, implement futile interventions which make the situation worse…”

Read the full Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey: 2008 here.

My post on the 2007 survey including a link to the survey is here.

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions. 

All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Norm Fisher

Royal LePage Vidorra


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