House Price Assessment: A Borrowing Capacity Perspective


This report provides an assessment of house prices relative to a household’s capacity to borrow and pay for the purchase of a house in selected Canadian cities.


  • Beginning in 2015—and prior to the pandemic—house prices in several cities (Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa, Victoria, Halifax and Vancouver) “de-linked” from household borrowing capacity, rising 20 per cent, or higher, above affordable prices.

  • Household borrowing capacity increased during the pandemic due to lower interest rates and COVID-19 financial support. However, further increases in house prices far outpaced gains in borrowing capacity, resulting in wider gaps in affordability.

  • At the end of 2021, the average house price nationally was $811,700—an increase of 43 per cent from December 2019 and a 97 per cent increase compared to January 2015.

  • We estimate that in December 2021, average house prices in Hamilton, Toronto, Halifax and Ottawa were more than 50 per cent above affordable levels, based on household borrowing capacity.

  • While approximate, our results suggest that household financial vulnerability is elevated in several cities for households that have recently purchased homes.


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