Finance minister talks reining in housing market

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Justin da Rosa

Finance Minister Joe Oliver, who is currently in meetings with his provincial counterpart, has said the government may take steps to rein in an overvalued housing market.
“In terms of household debt and the real-estate market, this is a subject, of course, we’re monitoring very carefully,” Oliver said, according to the Canadian Press. “So, we’re not going to take any dramatic steps in that regard, but we may take some moderate steps.”
Oliver, who took over for the late Jim Flaherty in March of this year, has said from the outset that monitoring the housing market will be a priority of his.
“Our government has taken action in the past to reduce consumer indebtedness and the government’s exposure to the housing market,” Oliver told CTV News in late March. “I will continue to monitor the market closely.”
The Finance Minister remains mum about what measures would be considered.
“Our longer-term objective is to reduce the government’s exposure to the mortgage market and we keep that objective in mind going forward,” he told CP.
The Bank of Canada recently took a stance on the state of housing prices, saying it believes the Canadian housing market is 10 to 30 per cent overvalued. However, the Governor of the Bank of Canada, Stephen Poloz, has also said he does not fear a housing crash.
“The risk comes when some catalyst sets off the vulnerability,” Poloz said on Thursday. “In this case it would be, let’s say, a rise in unemployment, a significant one, where it makes people have difficulty paying for their mortgage, or a rapid rise in mortgage rates, neither of which we’re expecting.”

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