As the federal election approaches, one of the key issues in every major party’s platform is national housing affordability. Among policymakers, issues such as whether or not Canadians can practically purchase a home within their local housing market, find affordable rentals, or qualify for a mortgage, are contentious. A recent survey conducted by Zoocasa demonstrates that these are issues which resonate with prospective buyers, homeowners and tenants.
Zoocasa polled over 1,300 Canadians between September 17 to 29, 2019, to better understand their sentiments regarding the following housing issues:
- Reduction of home affordability
- How homeowners are being impacted by increasing home prices
- Financial stress and housing prices
- The most prevalent challenges for home buyers
- Housing unaffordability as a federal election issue
Homeownership Still Considered of Importance
Findings demonstrate that respondents feel quite strongly that the cost of housing is a significant issue, with 84% in agreement. There is also a lot of conversation surrounding the subject matter with 72% of respondents saying that they had a conversation with a friend, family member or colleague about housing or the real estate market with the last week.
Although there are a number of challenges that exist, homeownership is still viewed as an important milestone that many believe should be achieved early on in adulthood, as 31% of respondents feel as though people should own a home or property by the time, they are between 31 – 35 years old. 29% of respondents feel as though this milestone should be met even earlier, at around 26-30 years old.
The Climbing Cost of Home Ownership
The dramatic increase in housing prices over the last decade is one of the key drivers of housing unaffordability, particularly within Canada’s largest urban centres, where prices have outpaced both inflation and the growth of wages. An example of this are Vancouver houses for sale, where the CREA benchmark home price in September 2019 was $990,600;[ZR1] not feasible for a household earning $72,662, the median income within the region.
This is quite evident to respondents as 91% say that they felt the cost of buying a home in their city or town has been rising faster than their incomes, and 92% feel as though rising home prices have made it hard for middle-class Canadians to buy their first home.
This encourages a “drive until you qualify” strategy among buyers as 52% of all first-time buyers say they’d consider moving to another town or city in order to be able to afford a home. This may force buyers to look at more affordable markets like Ottawa or Calgary homes for sale.
Real Estate Costs’ Impact on Homeowners
While the middle class has faced a number of challenges trying to get into the housing market as a result of rising home prices, this increase has been beneficial for some -particularly current homeowners. Of the respondents who identify as homeowners, 69% agree that owning a home has been effective in helping them build wealth.
Yet there is still a large amount of anxiety among homeowners as 54% of these respondents say that their housing costs have increased faster than their income since they purchased their home.
Much more revealing is that more than half of homeowners felt as though making their home purchase in earlier years was largely beneficial, as 66% said that that they felt they may not be able to afford the home they currently live in if they had to buy it in today’s market conditions.
The Pressure of Finances and Housing
The cost of housing has negatively impacted Canadians by not only causing them financial stress but by taking a toll on their mental health as well. This is particularly prominent amongst renters, with 76% of them saying that the rising home costs have negatively impacted their mental health at least once, compared to 50% of homeowners.
All respondents appeared to be experiencing a large degree of financial stress as 79% said they were their biggest source of stress at least once over the last 12 months, with 75% of homeowners and 86% of renters in agreement.
Challenges for First Time Buyers
Although 70% of first-time buyers believe that the greatest obstacle to buying a home is rising real estate prices, that is only part of it. The other top obstacles to homeownership are having enough income (64%) and saving for a down payment (58%).
Housing Affordability: A Federal Election Issue
Canadians want their federal government to make their housing concerns an area of focus, as 78% of respondents indicated that it’s important the next federal government elected makes it a priority. Renters felt the strongest with 90% in agreement, however, 72% of homeowners also felt that this was an area of note.