Canada may dodge housing hard landing, Flaherty says

WHITBY, Ontario (Reuters) - Pressures in the Toronto and Vancouver housing markets are moderating, Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Thursday, with neither a bubble nor a hard landing in sight for the country’s property market.

“I don’t think there is a bubble, or a danger of a bubble in Toronto and Vancouver. I’m actually comfortable with the fact that we’ve seen some moderation in pressures in that market, both of those markets and across the country,” Flaherty told reporters.

“I hope the market will discipline itself ... Some modification is better than having some sort of hard landing.”

Mindful of the U.S. housing market crash that triggered the global financial crisis, Flaherty in June tightened rules on government-backed mortgages for the fourth time in four years.

Industry reports released on Wednesday showed Canada’s post-recession property boom is displaying fresh signs of weakness due in part to the mortgage-rule changes, with sales volumes dropping even as average prices rise.

In Vancouver, Canada’s most expensive market, average prices posted modest decreases in the third quarter, particularly for condos.

In Toronto, average house price gains ranged from 2.7 percent to 5.9 percent, while demand fell modestly.

Writing by Louise Egan; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson