Pandemic highlights existing supply constraints

by Neil Sharma on 27 May 2021

Nineteen percent of Ontarians intend on buying a home in the next year, rivalling pre-COVID sentiment in Canada’s largest province, according to new survey results.

But that could prove challenging, given how voracious demand has become relative to available supply.

“In the last year, the desire among buyers for detached homes has grown stronger, but unfortunately, seller intentions for such properties have receded, so inventory is not keeping up with demand, making it tougher for buyers to find a great place to call home,” said David Oikle, president of the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA), which commissioned the survey conducted by Ipsos.

Sixty-three percent of respondents want more space in the form of a detached home, up from 60% in 2020, while 28% plan on buying a home that’s at least 2,500 sq ft, up from 20% a year ago. Although detached home prices have skyrocketed since March 2020, 75% of the survey’s respondents are banking on existing home equity to help them buy a detached home, an increase of 9% from a year prior.

However, only 62% of sellers will be listing a detached home. That doesn’t surprise Norman Xu, head of the Norman Xu Team at Royal LePage Signature Realty, who says the pandemic reinforced the need for more space.

“Demand for detached homes increased as more people started working from home. There’s such huge demand for detached homes and people want their homes to be more functional, both as a home and as an office,” he said. “A lot of jobs require their own space, especially if there are kids at home. It’s so important for me to have my own space, so I’m assuming there are others with similar needs. Certain jobs cannot be performed in a condo space and people can’t rent commercial spaces today like they could before. Balancing working from home with home life is the key reason demand for detached homes has increased compared to before the pandemic.”

With demand outpacing supply, OREA is calling on the government to implement solutions that will grow the availability of desired housing types—a problem that predates the pandemic.

“The current situation we’re facing in Ontario—increasing prices, demand for more space and larger homes—all during a once-in-a-century pandemic, points to a much larger systemic issue facing Ontario’s homebuyers: a serious lack of housing supply.”

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