Some call it a report on the obvious, while others see it as big news.
No matter how you view the Frontier Centre for Public Policy’s International Housing Affordability Survey, you’d be hard pressed to make a convincing argument that housing affordability hasn’t suffered a serious blow in Saskatoon over the past couple of years. In fact, you’d have to be a fool to even try. When the average selling price of a home nearly doubles in two years time you’re going to see some pretty serious deterioration in affordability. Most of us didn’t need an “international study” to tell us that the cost of home ownership has skyrocketed here but some might be a bit surprised to learn that no other city in Canada has seen affordability deteriorate to the same extent as Saskatoon. According to the study, Saskatoon is now among the ranks of the “seriously unaffordable.”
I suppose the greatest value of this kind of study, if you feel you can trust the methodology and actual statistics, is that it provides a bit of a benchmark as to how we’re doing locally compared to other markets around the world. The Demographia study looks at 265 housing markets and determines housing affordability for each assigning a “median multiplier” as its affordability measure. The “median multiplier” shows you how many years of median household income it takes to buy a home priced at the median in each market. We’re not quite sure which median income measure was used, or how a “house” is actually defined, but let’s assume that these measures are consistent from one survey to the next and see how things have changed in relation to some other Canadian markets. Here’s a quick look at the changes over the last three survey periods.
Recent price declines would suggest that Saskatoon might have already bottomed out as far as affordability is concerned, at least for now. I haven’t been able to make sense of the “median price” that the Demographia study has used for Saskatoon, but I can say with certainty that the median price of a Saskatoon house has been $21,250 lower over the past 90 days compared to the third quarter of 2008, the period that is measured for the study. It’s down $38,000 from its peak in Q2 when the median price of a Saskatoon house hit $315,000. Things are starting to look up for affordability. With any luck, we’ll be back in the “moderately unaffordable” category soon, and even that has a nice ring to it right now.
I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.
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Norm Fisher Royal LePage Vidorra