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Andrea Deghi, Mr. Fabio M Natalucci, and Mahvash S Qureshi
After dropping sharply in the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, commercial real estate prices are on the mend. However, the initial price decline, as well as the pace of recovery, vary widely across regions and different segments of the commercial real estate market. This note analyzes the factors that explain this divergence using city-level data from major advanced and emerging market economies. The findings show that pandemic-specific factors such as the stringency of containment measures and the spread of the virus are strongly associated with a decline in prices, while fiscal support and easy financial conditions maintained by central banks have helped to cushion the shock. A higher vaccination rate has aided the recovery of the sector, especially in the retail segment. Structural changes in private behavior such as the trend toward teleworking and e-commerce have also had an impact on commercial property prices in some segments. The outlook of the sector across regions thus remains closely tied to the trajectory of the pandemic and broader macroeconomic recovery, financial market conditions, and the pace of structural shifts in the demand for specific property types. In an environment of tightening financial conditions and a slowdown in economic activity, continued vigilance is warranted on the part of financial supervisors to minimize financial stability risks stemming from potential adverse shocks to the sector.
Mr. Adrian Alter and Elizabeth M. Mahoney
To identify and quantify downside risks to housing markets, we apply the house price-at-risk methodology to a sample of 37 cities across the United States and Canada using quarterly data from 1983 to 2018. This paper finds that downside risks to housing markets in the United States have seemingly fallen over the past decade, while having increased in Canada. Supply-side drivers, valuation, household debt, and financial conditions jointly play a key role in forecasting house price risks. In addition, capital flows are found to be significantly associated with future downside risks to major housing markets, but the net effect depends on the type of flows and varies across cities and forecast horizons. Using micro-level data, we identify households vulnerable to potential housing shocks and assess the riskiness of household debt.
Michal Andrle and Miroslav Plašil
This paper assesses house prices in 11 Canadian Census Metropolitan Areas (CMA) using the borrowing-capacity and the net-present-value approaches. The results indicate that by the end of 2018, house prices in most metropolitan areas are aligned with macroeconomic fundamentals. However, in Hamilton, Toronto, and Vancouver house prices have increased beyond the values implied by the fundamentals.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
This Financial System Stability Assessment paper discusses that Canada has enjoyed favorable macroeconomic outcomes over the past decades, and its vibrant financial system continues to grow robustly. However, macrofinancial vulnerabilities—notably, elevated household debt and housing market imbalances—remain substantial, posing financial stability concerns. Various parts of the financial system are directly exposed to the housing market and/or linked through housing finance. The financial system would be able to manage severe macrofinancial shocks. Major deposit-taking institutions would remain resilient, but mortgage insurers would need additional capital in a severe adverse scenario. Housing finance is broadly resilient, notwithstanding some weaknesses in the small non-prime mortgage lending segment. Although banks’ overall capital buffers are adequate, additional required capital for mortgage exposures, along with measures to increase risk-based differentiation in mortgage pricing, would be desirable. This would help ensure adequate through-the cycle buffers, improve mortgage risk-pricing, and limit procyclical effects induced by housing market corrections.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
Growth has slowed to a more sustainable level and financial vulnerabilities have eased. But risks remain. Household debt is high, the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) awaits legislative approval, and ongoing trade tensions between the United States (U.S.) and its major trading partners are weighing on the global outlook.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Financial Systems Dept.


The April 2019 Global Financial Stability Report (GFSR) finds that despite significant variability over the past two quarters, financial conditions remain accommodative. As a result, financial vulnerabilities have continued to build in the sovereign, corporate, and nonbank financial sectors in several systemically important countries, leading to elevated medium-term risks. The report attempts to provide a comprehensive assessment of these vulnerabilities while focusing specifically on corporate sector debt in advanced economies, the sovereign–financial sector nexus in the euro area, China’s financial imbalances, volatile portfolio flows to emerging markets, and downside risks to the housing market. These vulnerabilities require action by policymakers, including through the clear communication of any changes in their monetary policy outlook, the deployment and expansion of macroprudential tools, the stepping up of measures to repair public and private sector balance sheets, and the strengthening of emerging market resilience to foreign portfolio outflows. This GFSR also takes an in depth look at house prices at risk, a measure of downside risks to future house price growth—using theory, insights from past analyses, and new statistical techniques applied to 32 advanced and emerging market economies and major cities. The chapter finds that lower house price momentum, overvaluation, excessive credit growth, and tighter financial conditions predict heightened downside risks to house prices up to three years ahead. The measure of house prices at risk helps forecast downside risks to GDP growth and adds to early-warning models for financial crises. Policymakers can use estimates of house prices at risk to complement other surveillance indicators of housing market vulnerabilities and guide macroprudential policy actions aimed at building buffers and reducing vulnerabilities. Downside risks to house prices could also be relevant for monetary policymakers when forming their views on the downside risks to the economic and inflation outlook. Authorities considering measures to manage capital flows might also find such information useful when a surge in capital inflows increases downside risks to house prices and when other policy options are limited.

Mr. Troy D Matheson
Housing market imbalances are a key source of systemic risk and can adversely affect housing affordability. This paper utilizes a stylized model of the Canadian economy that includes policymakers with differing objectives—macroeconomic stability, financial stability, and housing affordability. Not surprisingly, when faced with multiple objectives, deploying more policy instruments can lead to better outcomes. The results show that macroprudential policy can be more effective than policies based on adjusting propertytransfer taxes because property-tax policy entails excessive volatility in tax rates. They also show that if property-transfer taxes are used as a policy instrument, taxes targeted at a broader-set of homebuyers can be more effective than measures targeted at a smaller subset of homebuyers, such as nonresident homebuyers.