The desire of some well-meaning British Columbians for government to drive down the price of homes through demand-side policy may sound practical at first blush. However, when you consider the broad and deep economic toll that a negative shock to home prices would exact on both homeowners and renters, it quickly becomes apparent that such an approach is at best, a mug’s game. BCREA Economics analysis* shows that even a relatively modest negative price shock will produce significant consequences to the BC economy.
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Nearly 70 per cent of British Columbian households own their home. A relatively minor 10 per cent negative shock to home prices would extinguish $90 billion of their wealth, or $70,000 of the average home owner’s equity. While some may see this as a paper loss, it will have a significant impact on the economy, as declining household wealth reins in consumer spending. Retail sales would suffer, with an estimated $1.8 billion in forgone revenue in the first year after the shock.
Home construction activity would fall dramatically. Home builders would cut back production 25 per cent; that’s 10,000 fewer housing starts in the first year alone. A negative price shock would markedly slow the expansion of the housing stock, creating even more critical housing supply problems down the road.