66% of Canadians concerned about housing prices: poll

by Neil Sharma on 28 Jun 2021

A new poll conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Zillow Group found that 66% of Canadians are disquieted by housing prices and a third of respondents stated they’re incapable of buying the homes they want.

Fifty-seven percent of renters also said they’re forced to live lease by lease because they cannot afford to buy homes.

“For many, large down payments are an important deterrent,” said an Ipsos news release. “Coming up with a down payment remains the top barrier to owning a home, with two in three Canadians (64%, down two points from 2019) citing it as such. Down payments are just as prohibitive for owners (65%) as for renters (64%), suggesting their barriers include qualifying for a mortgage.”

In fact, 54% of respondents said they’re struggling with mortgage qualification, while 50% can’t qualify because of debt—although that’s down 6% from 2019, which is unsurprising because Canadians have been saving and paying down non-mortgage debt during the COVID-19 pandemic—and 44% cannot because they fear for their job security. Forty-three percent of respondents cited property taxes as an obstacle to homeownership, while 22% said there aren’t enough homes available to purchase.

The poll results aren’t surprising to mortgage broker Laura Martin, who noted that the top-five reasons people typically don’t qualify for mortgages is because their incomes are too low, they don’t have enough money saved for a down payment, they have bad credit, they’re too junior in their jobs, or banks don’t find the property type desirable.

“Down payment is the biggest,” said Martin, COO of Matrix Mortgage Global in Toronto. “Who has $40,000-50,000 lying around when you also have $50,000 in student debt? For people who need parental help to get into the market, even if they’re Gen Xers, what they really need help with is the down payment because living expenses are so high.”

Martin added that the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions’ recent B-20 amendment, which raised the stress test qualification to 5.25% from 4.79%, has effectively thrown another spanner into the works, albeit one that pales in comparison to runaway housing prices.

“The stress test hasn’t had an effect the way housing prices have,” she said. “There’s been an increase of interested new buyers, thinking they better get into the game before they’re priced out, so I am hopeful that some of the people who got declined in the last year will be in the position to purchase in a few years.”

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