This has been a year of change for Canadian real estate; new provincial policies and taxes, along with tougher federal mortgage criteria, have cramped affordability and slowed sales, meaning buyers and sellers must adapt to a chillier market reality than seen in past years.
However, 2018 also ushered in some much-needed stability, cooling some of the rampant price growth in the nation’s steepest cities and returning demand to more historical levels, especially among Vancouver real estate and Toronto homes for sale.
How has all of this impacted Canadians’ perceptions of the market? New national survey data on current and 2019 housing outlook sentiments finds a recurring trend among existing homeowners and those aspiring to get on the property ladder: respondents who identified as long-term homeowners (10+ years) were most optimistic regarding the health of the market and their investment, compared to newer homeowners (less than 10 years), and renters.
In fact, those who identified as renters feel least confident overall about market conditions, their homeownership prospects, and their satisfaction with their current home.
Homeownership still key to “Great Canadian Dream”
Despite an increasingly tougher financial threshold to ownership, the majority of survey respondents agreed that owning a home is an important life milestone: a full 81% of long-term owners, followed by 77% of short-term owners, and 63% of renters. The desire to upgrade housing was also very strong among those who rent: 92% indicated they intend to eventually buy a home, with 59% planning to do so over the next five years.
There’s also the lingering perception that it’s better to pay into a mortgage than rent to a landlord; just under half of homeowners (49%) believe paying rent is a waste of money, while 36% of renters agree.
Real estate still perceived to be a great investment
Despite considerable softening in sales in Canada’s largest urban markets, confidence in real estate overall remains high among those who currently own, with 50% of long-term owners and 45% of shorter-term owners in agreement. Only 16% of renters, however, share this positive sentiment.
Overall, a whopping 89% of all homeowners disagreed with the statement that they “regret becoming a homeowner”, and buying real estate is still perceived to be among the safest financial investments according to 68% of long-term homeowners and 47% of short-term homeowners. However, only 30% of renters feel the same way.
Long-term homeowners most satisfied with current home
A total of 43% of respondents who have owned real estate for more than 10 years say they consider the residence they currently dwell in to be the their “dream home”, which may reflect their increased ability to move up in the market due to the equity they’ve built up over time, historically low interest rates, and entering the market before home prices sharply increased over the past five years.
Only 24% of those who are newer to property ownership said their current home is their ideal residence, and only 7% of renters indicated as such.
However, anxiety is high among all groups regarding current market conditions and steepening affordability; of those who indicated they do not currently live within the dream home, the majority feel they will never be able to afford to do so should “current market conditions” continue. (49% of long-term owners, 47% of short-term owners, and 66% of renters.)
Renters also appear to be most impacted by the current rising interest rate environment, with 28% saying higher rates would impact their ability to buy property, compared to just 13% of homeowners.
Canadians feel government should take action on housing market
When it comes to reigning in runaway home values, the majority (71%) of Canadians believe the federal government should be doing more to help; renters felt the strongest regarding this, at 81%, while 64% of homeowners support government intervention. Renters also show the strongest support for programs helping first-time buyer get into the market (75%, compared to 49% of homeowners).
However, none of the groups polled are in support of the government raising taxes to do so, with only 20% of homeowners and 41% of renters in agreement.
The findings are based on an online survey conducted by Zoocasa.com from Nov 26, 2018 to Dec 3, 2018 of over 1,140 respondents who live in Canada. Although online polls are usually not assigned a margin of error, the estimated margin of error for a sample of this size is +/- 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.