While many have been warning about a bubble in Canada’s real estate market, one of Donald Trump’s most trusted executives says Canada’s real estate market is actually undervalued, with plenty of investment opportunities.
George H. Ross is the executive vice president for the entire Trump Organization. He has over 50 years of experience in real estate investments, even helping Donald Trump close his first deal decades ago. Is the leader of Trump’s organization outsmarting all the investors that are calling for a real estate market crash?
The real estate “bubble” isn’t everywhere
Nationally, the average resale home price recently hit $440,000, a near 10% rise compared with a year earlier. The rise in home prices is considerably more prolonged and dramatic than even the U.S. crisis a few years ago.
Still, numbers can be deceiving.
Nearly all of that outsized growth came from two metro areas: Vancouver and Toronto. Home sales have jumped an astounding 50% over the past year in Vancouver and roughly 12% in Toronto (Canada’s biggest market). According to real estate company Royal LePage: “Demand for expensive luxury homes in the two cities is at the highest on record so far this year.”
Outside of those markets, prices grew at an average of 2.4%, just meeting inflation.
Some Canadian markets are actually experiencing price declines
Resource-rich cities such as Regina and St. John’s have been crushed in the wake of falling metals and crude prices. In Calgary, prices have fallen almost every month of this year.
Toronto-Dominion Bank (TSX:TD)(NYSE:TD) expects that Alberta will narrowly avoid a recession, but the hit to incomes and rising unemployment will make it feel like one. Their outlook for Newfoundland is much worse, with the province headed for recession this year. With prices in that region already down 35% from their 2012 peak, the oil shock will surely extend what is now a three-year housing downturn.
The Bank of Canada warns of contagion
The biggest opponent of George Ross may be the Bank of Canada itself.
“The adverse impact of the oil price shock in Alberta and continued robust price growth in Toronto and Vancouver suggest a risk of a correction in these markets,” the Bank of Canada warned in its latest monetary policy report. “While historical experience suggests that localized Canadian house price cycles, both in terms of the factors behind the boom as well as the correction, have typically not spilled over to other regions, it would be a major event if it occurred.”
What this means is that the falling real estate prices in some regions may have adverse effects on other markets. For example, Alberta was responsible for between 50-85% of new jobs created in Canada over recent years. Without the Alberta employment gains, Canada would have an estimated 9% unemployment rate. If those regions start to slip, it may very well seep into seemingly unrelated markets.
A stock-pickers market
Right now, it seems as if we’re dealing with a tale of two Canadas: one with a rapidly booming economy and real estate market, and the other with severe economic issues and consistently falling housing prices.
What most analysts don’t say however is that both bulls and bears may turn out to be right. George Ross may be able to buy undervalued real estate in select markets, and skeptics might appear correct about the housing market overall.
As an investor, take a look at where your real estate exposure is. Many banks such as Bank of Montreal (TSX:BMO)(NYSE:BMO) and Royal Bank of Canada (TSX:RY)(NYSE:RY) are overexposed to specific regions. Understanding where your risks are will be important no matter what the real estate market does.
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Fool contributor Ryan Vanzo has no position in any stocks mentioned.