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Canada’s housing market buzz is back as Toronto rebounds

The American music producer, songwriter and fashion designer Pharrell Williams peered out from towering video screens at a public square in downtown Toronto and announced that he was co-developing a condominium project in the city. “Physical space is only a backdrop,” his voice intoned on Tuesday last week. The backdrop to Mr. Williams’ debut as a property developer — a midtown two-tower project dubbed “Untitled” — is a Toronto housing market that is rapidly on the mend after a two-year slump. Earlier that day the city’s real estate board revealed the price for a typical home in the Greater Toronto Area jumped 5.8 per cent in October from a year ago to $810,900, just shy of an all-time peak reached in 2017.

The property market rebound in Toronto, and to a lesser extent Vancouver is boosting Canada’s economy at a time when it faces headwinds from various trade wars and low oil prices that are weighing down the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

But it is also making life difficult for Stephen Poloz, governor of Canada’s central bank, who is hesitant to join the global rate-cutting party for fear of exacerbating dangerously high household debt levels. “[Mr] Poloz has to walk a fine line,” said Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist with CIBC World Markets. “He has to keep the dollar relatively low, but on the other hand he doesn’t want to pour fuel on the fire.”



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