Canadian home ownership at highest level since 1971

Wed Jun 4, 2008 2:13pm EDT
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Home ownership in Canada in 2006 was at its highest level since 1971, according to a Statistics Canada analysis released on Wednesday.

More than two-thirds (68.4 percent) of Canadian households owned their dwelling in 2006, Statscan said.

"Home ownership rises when the labor market is strong, income growth is solid and people feel relatively confident and it's also been helped by historically low interest rates," said Doug Porter, deputy chief economist at BMO Capital Markets.

Statscan said that between 2001 and 2006 the median selling price for a home rose to C$200,474 ($198,489) from C$134,240 ($132,910).

Porter said prices reflected Canada's economic climate over the period.

"We had a very solid economic recovery, especially in Western Canada. Incomes rose quite strongly, employment growth was robust right across the country starting in 2002 and that pushed up home prices."

The number of homeowners with a mortgage hit 57.9 percent in 2006, the highest level since 1981, Statscan said.

Porter said the ability of home owners to repay their mortgages isn't a source of concern yet.

"Looking forward, we might get into a situation where mortgage payments grow so large that they start to squeeze out spending on other items, to this point it's not obvious that's happened," he said.

($1=$1.01 Canadian)

(Reporting by Lionel Perron; Editing by Peter Galloway)