First-time buyers poised to stand tall even as Canadian home purchase intentions fall: RBC Poll

Cautious mood, less urgency among Canadian homebuyers, but majority still consider homeownership a good investment


Four-in-10 Canadians (40 per cent) planning to enter the housing market over the next two years will be first-time homebuyers, according to the 20th Annual RBC Home Ownership Poll.

The majority of Canadians are taking a wait-and-see approach to home purchases, with 15 per cent likely to buy in the next two years, down from 27 per cent last year. The 12-percentage-point drop is the biggest year-over-year fall in overall buying intention as tracked by this annual poll.

"The more cautious mood this year is not surprising and is consistent with broader economic and industry forecasts. An unseasonably warm spring, low rates and anticipation of mortgage rule changes may have led many Canadians to move forward their home purchases in the first half of 2012," said Sean Amato-Gauci, senior vice-president, Home Equity Financing, RBC. "Our findings suggest confidence in the housing market is still high and young Canadians are the bright spot as they look to buy their first home and seek the advice to do it right."

A majority of Canadians (84 per cent) believe that a house or condominium is a good investment. Just over half of Canadians think that now is the time to get into the housing market (52 per cent), while fewer Canadians believe house prices will be higher at this time next year (43 per cent, down from 47 per cent in 2012). More Canadians in 2013 feel that the current housing market is in balance (40 per cent, up from 36 per cent last year).

What factors are sidelining buyers?

The RBC poll found that three-quarters (75 per cent) of Canadians feel that recent government changes to mortgage rules will impact or delay prospective homebuyers from getting into the market, but this may be more perception than reality. The poll also showed almost six-in-10 recent and prospective homebuyers say that a required minimum 5-per cent down payment (59 per cent) and a shortened mortgage amortization period to 25 years from 30 years (56 per cent) had little to no impact.
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Nearly half of Canadians (49 per cent) expect mortgage rates will be the same at this time next year. Consistent with consumer trends, almost half (46 per cent) of first-time homebuyers cite affordability as a top reason for not buying (47 per cent in 2012). Meanwhile saving for a down payment (32 per cent, up from 18 per cent a year ago) and job security (28 per cent, up from 20 per cent a year ago) have taken on increased importance this year.

Given mixed sentiment in the Canadian housing market, the majority of Canadian homebuyers seek qualified advice in their home purchases. Three quarters of Canadian homebuyers (76 per cent) turn to their banker for mortgage advice and four-in-10 (40 per cent) say a bank is their primary source of information for advice on financing a home purchase, either by speaking to them directly or using their websites and calculators.

"With all the ambiguity in the market, Canadian homebuyers, especially first time homebuyers, are looking for trusted advice. Speaking with an industry expert, like an RBC mortgage specialist in your area, can alleviate concerns to help guide your home financing decisions and they can also provide great rates," added Amato-Gauci.

Highlights from across Canada: Atlantic Canadians (91 per cent) and residents in Manitoba and Saskatchewan (89 per cent) are the least likely Canadians to purchase a house in the next two years, while British Columbians are the only region where a majority describe the current market as a buyer's market (where buyers have the advantage because the number of houses available exceeds the number of buyers).

British Columbia:

British Columbians are evenly divided on whether it makes sense to buy a house now (51 per cent) or wait until next year(49 per cent). One-in-five British Columbians (20 per cent) say they are likely to purchase a home within the next two years as residents in this province were more likely than any other Canadian region to forecast lower housing prices in the next year (38 per cent, national: 24 per cent).

Alberta:

Nearly nine-in-10 Albertans (89 per cent) surveyed say buying a house or condo is a good investment, higher than the national average (84 per cent), even as home buying intentions have dropped from a year ago (22 per cent, compared with 31 per cent). Almost half of Albertans (49 per cent) feel their current housing market is balanced, compared to the national average of 40 per cent.

Prairies:

The majority of residents in Manitoba and Saskatchewan (56 per cent) say it makes more sense to wait until next year to buy a home, in contrast to the national average that believes it makes sense to buy a home now given current housing and economic conditions (52 per cent). Still, 88 per cent say buying a house or condo is a good investment.

Ontario:

While a majority of Ontarians (86 per cent) do not expect to buy a home in the next two years, almost as many (83 per cent) feel that a home or condo is a good investment. Given current housing prices and economic conditions, more than half of Ontarians (52 per cent) say it makes more sense to buy now, while 48 per cent prefer to wait until next year.

Quebec:

While a majority of Quebecers (87 per cent) surveyed do not expect to buy a home in the next two years, they also believe that a home or condo is a good investment (84 per cent).Given current housing prices, Quebecers were almost evenly split between saying it makes more sense to buy a house now (49 per cent) versus waiting until next year (52 per cent).

Atlantic Canada:

Given current housing prices and economic conditions, Atlantic Canadians are the most likely in the country to say it makes sense to buy now (64 per cent), rather than wait until next year (36 per cent). Confidence in the investment value of a home remains high in Atlantic Canada (81 per cent), just below the overall Canadian sentiment (84 per cent).

For more information, please contact:

Matt Gierasimczuk, Corporate Communications, 416-974-2124

Ka Yan Ng, Corporate Communications, 416-974-1794


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