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Think Canada’s home prices have surged? Take a look at Norway!

When it comes to the price of a home, we Canadians are a “middle-of-the-pack” bunch compared with other countries.

House prices in Canada have gone up 1.5 times over the past two decades, about the same as in Belgium, Denmark, France and Finland, according to Bank of International Settlements data reported by BMO Capital Markets. That’s just ahead of the United States, Ireland and Spain (post-corrections).

Compare that to Norway, which – at four times the price of a house in 1995 – is way above 17 advanced countries.

Great Britain, Australia and Sweden clock in at three times higher.

The only country with prices that have actually fallen is – no surprise? – Japan, at 45 per cent lower “and still falling,” as BMO senior economist Sal Guatieri puts it.

Meanwhile, over at Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., the 2014 review of the state of housing in Canada drills deep down into demographics, finance, markets, trends and housing conditions.

Not surprisingly, household growth between 2006 and 2011 was strongest among the 60-64 age set, the leading edge of the ever-influential baby boom generation.

New-home prices increased on average 2.3 per cent in 2012, with growth posted in 18 of 21 urban centres covered. The biggest increase – 5 per cent – was in the Toronto-Oshawa region, while the largest decrease was in Victoria: 3 per cent.

The average resale price of a home on the Multiple Listing Service in 2013? $382,576, up from $363,469 in the previous year. A 2012 survey indicates that 31 per cent of recent buyers reported making either a lump-sum payment or increasing their regular mortgage payment, or both, in order to pay off their mortgage sooner, up from 29 per cent in 2011.

As of the first quarter of 2014, 0.31 per cent of residential mortgages were three or more months in arrears, down from 0.34 per cent a year earlier. That’s the lowest level since 2008, due to the improvement in economic conditions.

And Canadians’ ability to service their mortgage debts improved: in 2013, the ratio of average mortgage debt-service costs to annual personal disposable income stood at 3.66 per cent, a whisper of a decline from 3.7 per cent in 2012 and below the average of 4.1 per cent since 2000.

One-person households are the fastest-growing type of household, accounting for 28 per cent of households in 2011, more than twice their 13-per-cent share in 1971.

Households made up of couples with kids accounted for 29 per cent of households in 2011, down from 50 per cent in 1971. In 2011, women made up 65 per cent of condominium owner-occupants living alone. At the age-55-and-above level, that jumps to 76 per cent.

The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Nov. 20 2014, 9:11 AM EST
Last updated Thursday, Nov. 20 2014, 10:19 AM ES