First consider this 1716 sqft house in South Edmonton for $374,900
Looking on craigslist for rentals in Edmonton I found the following.
The 1680 sqft house is the closest match. The advertised price is $1500 but after a few months the price increases to $1700.
1680 Square Foot Beautiful house in Edmonton's most popular newly developed community called Ellerslie crossing. The house location is seconds walk from ETS bus stop and kids school buses. Close to all amenities. Its next to South Edmonton Common, Anthony Henday, Calgary Trail and Whitemud. The lake is visible from the bonus room....Starting rent of $1500.00 will increase by $50 on December ($1550), January ($1600), February ($1650) and will get fixed at $1700.00 from March, 2010 onwards.
Comparing full asking price and rent results in a ratio of 220. That is fairly high even though it is from one of the more reasonable priced houses on the MLS (there was only one rental to choose from in the neighboorhood).
Looking at the price vs. rent things are a little closer.
Assuming full asking price, 10% down, 2% CMHC premium, 4% 5-year fixed rate and 25 year am.
$1814/month. $674 of which is principal.
There is a premium here, especially when taxes and maintenance are included. However, after 5 years the balance will be $300,255.
A buyer under these terms will end up paying a moderate premium and pay down some of the principal over 5 years. Meh. Not terribly exciting.
However if a buyer chooses a more risky mortgage a more interesting comparison appears.
Full asking price, 10% down, 2.4% CMHC premium, 2.25% variable and 35-year amortization.
$1192/month. $543 is principal (the first month, at least)
So for $1192/month + taxes + maintenance a buyer can move out of an apartment into a house and become a homeowner. The problem of course is not considering the interest costs for the entire duration of the loan and the effect of this stimulus on the asset price itself. Is this a bubble? Are current buyers the greater fools by recklessly overpaying for houses due to blind faith in future appreciation? Not entirely. Buyers may be incorrectly assessing the risk of future financing costs and not accounting for the asset inflation caused by low rates. This is a more subtle mispricing as opposed to a bubble and due to this I expect a less dramatic unwinding.
The type of financing above is an artificial boost to the housing market. What about the rental market? Low interest rates and creative loans reduce demand for rentals as the monthly payments attract people towards becoming homeowners. While rents have been falling partially due to the weak economy, I think another reason is from these financing terms. If/when these financing terms become less attractive the rental market may gain strength.
But its Halloween so we have to consider we may be in a deflationary depression where everything is toast.