Boomers Still Drive Canada’s Housing Market

Boomers Still Drive Canada's Housing MarketCanada’s baby boom generation isn’t ready to stop buying and selling real estate, new data shows. In addition to purchasing their own primary and recreational homes, boomers are also helping millennials get into the market.

“Don’t count them out yet — baby boomers will impact Canada’s housing market in a big way in the coming years, as another 1.4 million of this large demographic are expected to sell and buy real estate between now and 2023,” says Phil Soper, president and CEO of Royal LePage. A survey by the company found that of those planning to buy a home within the next five years, 45 per cent will purchase a detached home, 32 per cent will most likely purchase a condo and 10 per cent are looking for a semi-detached home.

“Baby boomers affect the Canadian real estate market on multiple levels,” says Brad Henderson, CEO of Sotheby’s Realty International of Canada. “As direct consumers who drive housing demand and product mix, as arbiters of market confidence and as indirect influencers through their financial support of the next generation of homebuyers.”

A recent Re/Max study found that 91 per cent of popular Canadian recreational markets are being driven by retirees. “Combined with the fact that Canada’s senior population is the largest it has ever been, and many of these retirees are using recreational properties as retirement properties, pricing has increased across the majority of markets,” says Christopher Alexander, EVP and regional director at Re/Max Integra.

This is making it tougher for younger buyers. Re/Max says brokers in B.C. expect the market to shift from retirees to younger buyers within the next two to five years, while in Ontario the two age groups are competing for recreational properties.

Recently Point2 Homes conducted a study that found most millennials greatly underestimate the amount of money they will need for a down payment on a home. The national average down payment is about $25,000 but 30 per cent of millennials say they have less than $10,000 in savings and 10 per cent said they have no savings at all.

The survey says 66 per cent of millennials interested in buying a home want to do so within the next year, but 35 per cent say they are saving less than 10 per cent of their income each month and 30 per cent of respondents say they only save between 10 and 20 per cent.

The report concludes that even if they can save 20 per cent of their income each month, millennials starting from scratch would need between 14 and 35 years to save enough for a down payment in the country’s seven most expensive markets, including five Metro Vancouver communities and Oakville and Richmond Hill in Ontario.

It would take about 4.6 years to save enough in Toronto. But on the bright side, there are 40 Canadian cities where millennials could save for a down payment in less than a year, led by Timmins, Ont. Other cities in this group include Quebec City, Edmonton, Halifax, Gatineau, Que., Regina and Saskatoon, Sask.

However, the Point2 report says the majority of millennials do not yet meet the minimum requirements to qualify for a down payment on a home. That’s where their boomer relatives come in.

A Sotheby’s report from data gathered last year says one-third of boomers in Canada’s four major metropolitan centres plan to, or have already, given a living inheritance to help relatives buy real estate. Another third plan to do so as part of their will.

Calgary boomers are apparently the most generous, with 41 per cent of boomers planning to help relatives buy a home. Thirty-six per cent of Vancouver boomers, 35 per cent of those in Toronto and 27 per cent of those in Montreal have given or intend to give a living inheritance.

The median amount gifted for real estate is between $25,000 and $50,000. The median age of those receiving the gift is 30 to 34. Forty-four per cent of those receiving the gifts would not have been able to make their home purchase without the help, and one-third of givers say that without the gift, the beneficiary would not have been able to secure a conventional mortgage.

Royal LePage’s 2017 research “into the largest group of first-time home buyers in Canada, which we call the ‘peak millennials’, showed many were roosting in the family nest well beyond the traditional age of exit,” says Soper. He says the new boomer survey confirmed that boomers are allowing their children to stay at home well into adulthood, but “they won’t stay forever, and when they go, the folks are going to go condo shopping.”

Royal LePage says that the boomers who are buying homes for themselves are interested in smaller cities and recreational areas. “This large segment of our population views our big cities as generally unaffordable for retirement purposes,” says Soper.

The survey found that 77 per cent of boomer homeowners have paid off more than 50 per cent of their mortgage and 61 per cent have paid off more than 90 per cent.

“This is a generation that deeply values home ownership and very much wants their children to have the same opportunity,” says Soper.


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