Investing in Real Estate Still a Fine Route to Comfortable Retirement

By now, “Profit Confidential” readers surely have heard an earful about the sorry state of the real estate and mortgage market in the U.S. But here in Canada, we approach things a little differently. On average, Canadians are reluctant speculators. This is perhaps why the low-interest-rate environment in Canada did not lead to real estate or lending bubbles; certainly not the kind we read about in the U.S., at least.

According to CIBC World Markets, prices of homes in Canada are likely to take two decades to double. To arrive at this conclusion, CIBC examined demographics cycles, domestic and immigration growth projections, income rate and interest rate growth projections, and average annual inflation rate of two percent, among other things.

Identified as a hindrance to the price growth rate are baby boomers retiring en masse, retirees downsizing, and geopolitical and economic uncertainties adversely impacting new homebuyers entering the market. But, by 2026, home prices in Canada should double (finally).

In addition, CIBC estimates that, for the next 20 years, there will be roughly 250,000 new homes built in excess of normal annual demand. Granted, 250,000 excess new homes may sound as if the supply is more likely to outpace the demand, thus pushing the home prices down instead of up. But we are still talking about only 12,500 extra homes being flushed into the market per year. Even considering Canada’s population of roughly 30 million, this still represents a statistically small number.

Of course, as with any real estate market, home prices are mostly about location, location, location! Hot pockets, such as big cities and/or economically strong regions, will still see most of the price increase.

So, who’s going to profit the most if things progress as forecasted by CIBC World Markets? Well, at first glance, most of the profit will go to banks and other mortgage lenders. Their gains are directly related to higher home prices.

But when discussing real estate, I always remember how my grandparents and parents talked about homeownership. At any opportune moment (and quite a few inopportune ones, too), they would say that members of our family were born with bricks in our stomachs and that these bricks just had to be placed in the foundations of our future homes, or else…

So, I agree with the sentiment that real estate investments in Canada should provide for comfortable retirement, though for mostly emotional reasons. I also believe that real estate bubbles are not the Canadian way. As we continue enjoying the low-interest- rate environment, not owning a home is simply not the smart thing to do.