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CMHC’s 2009 Housing Observer

CMHC CMHC released its 2009 Canadian Housing Observer yesterday.

Most of its findings are dated back to year-end 2008, but it contains some interesting tidbits nonetheless.

One key takeaway is the massive importance of Canada’s real estate industry. It’s a point that can’t be overemphasized–with housing-related spending accounting for 1/5 of our economy.

The mortgage business is no small potatoes either.  As of December 31, 2008, there were $903 billion worth of mortgages outstanding in Canada.

If you’re a trendspotter, you’ll find it interesting that chartered banks approved 74% of outstanding residential mortgages in 2008.  That’s down from 2007, when the number was 79%. (Five percentage points of market share is a sizeable change for one year.)

It will be interesting to see if banks regain some share in 2009. Banks had an enormous advantage over non-banks in terms of funding costs this year. That’s due to banks being flooded with low-cost customer deposits (as investors pulled out of other assets). As a result, 2009 saw banks become more aggressive than ever.