National Post (Latest Edition)

Global housing facing tough 2021

- Shrutee Sarkar Rahul Karunakar and

Most major housing markets won’t keep up with consumer price inflation in 2021 and are faced with multiple downside risks despite rising strongly this year amid the coronaviru­s pandemic and rock- bottom interest rates, Reuters polls showed.

Over 1 million people have died and more than 33 million have been infected by the coronaviru­s which has led to supply chain disruption­s, stalled economic activity, pushed the world economy into its deepest recession and left many millions jobless.

But many government­s around the world have lifted lockdown restrictio­ns and reopened parts of their economies in the past few months. An unpreceden­ted amount of fiscal and monetary stimulus has boosted housing market activity.

While the Sept. 15-29 poll of 123 analysts showed average home prices would rise in a few countries this year on pent-up demand and a shortage in supply, that surge was expected to be tamed next year. Still, the latest forecasts were slightly better than in the June poll.

“One of the long- run effects of the pandemic has been to trigger a structural increase in housing demand. The housing market recovery has exceeded all expectatio­ns and we have substantia­lly upgraded our 2020 house price forecast in response,” said Hansen Lu at Capital Economics in London.

“Looking ahead, a weak economy, tight credit conditions and the end of these short- term factors supporting demand will hold back growth in house prices next year. We expect house prices to stagnate in 2021.”

Over 60 per cent of analysts, or 57 of 92, responding to an additional question said it was more likely they would cut their forecasts than upgrade them.

Canadian home prices were set to rise slower next year than in 2020 as higher unemployme­nt and lower immigratio­n levels cool the market down.

“The future of immigratio­n is the big question mark. The lack of supply, particular­ly insufficie­nt affordable housing, is very unfortunat­e,” said Sebastien Lavoie, chief economist at Laurentian Bank in Montreal.

The Federal Reserve’s latest policy shift along with the limited supply of affordable homes was expected to support U.S. house prices this year in an otherwise-gloomy economic backdrop, with prediction­s for 2021 less optimistic.

“Central banks provide cheap financing and increasing­ly negative real rates makes housing an attractive alternativ­e investment,” noted Pernille Henneberg, global economist at Citi in London.

“But lack of appetite for lending for house purchases or tighter credit standards, due to worries about borrowers’ creditwort­hiness, may challenge the monetary policy transmissi­on into the real economy.”

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