RBC’s “Worst Case” For Canadian Real Estate Is A Price Drop of Nearly 30%

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Canada’s largest bank is prepared for price drops most would find unthinkable. Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) filings show possible risk scenario forecasts. Over the next year, the base forecast shows virtually flat growth. In a best case scenario, growth would hit levels similar to previous years. In a worst case, they forecast prices can make the biggest drop since the early 1980s. 

Macroeconomic Scenario Assumptions

Quick intro to IFRS 9 macroeconomic assumptions for people that aren’t in finance, or aren’t secret finance nerds. IFRS 9 is a financial reporting standard used by most of the world’s banks at this time. One of these standards requires an assessment of risk, using unbiased and possible economic outcomes. Typically three  macroeconomic scenarios are used: a base, best, and worst case scenario.

The base, best, and worst cases are what they sound like. The base case is the average scenario you currently expect. The best case is an ideal projection, if everything is perfect. The worst case is the most severe outcome you can realistically expect. The organization needs to be ready for each one of these scenarios.

The forecast numbers are important for each organization’s preparedness. Too optimistic, and just a few impairments can result in serious damage. Too negative, and you’ll be putting aside way too much capital, placing a drag on company growth. These aren’t just random numbers, they’re considered reasonable outcomes. That said, let’s look at their real estate scenarios.

Base Case: Canadian Real Estate Prices Are Flat

The base case isn’t as ambitious as most would guess, and it’s actually quite modest. The bank’s forecast sees prices rising 0.6% over the next 12-month, with the numbers starting in October. They expect compound annual growth of 4.5% for the following 2 to 5 years. Basically, they see the market as flat in this scenario.