Survey finds Canadians concerned about debt

The Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals (CAAMP) produced the findings in its annual State of the Residential Mortgage Market in Canada report after surveying 2,000 online respondents. About half the respondents were homeowners.

Respondents were asked to rank their agreement on a scale of 10 on various issues relating to housing and mortgages, and the highest score, 7.98, was for the statement “as a whole, Canadians have too much debt.” Almost one-half, 46%, gave a rating of nine or 10, showing very strong agreement with the statement.

“This, coincidentally or not, has been asserted repeatedly by senior government officials and other voices in the news media,” said the report, authored by CAAMP Chief Economist Will Dunning.

He pointed out that as of this August, there is more than $1 trillion of residential mortgage credit outstanding in Canada, and that number is expected to continue to grow at a faster rate in the years ahead.

“An increasing level of uncertainty about economic prospects is creating uncertainty about the outlook for the housing and mortgage markets,” said Dunning.

The response to those surveyed was more mixed when asked if the Canadian market was in a bubble currently. The average score was 6.07 out of 10, with 46% of responses being closer to a neutral score of 5 or 6.

But while there might be some concern about a bubble, the average response for the agreement with the statement that real estate in Canada was a good long-term investment was 7.27 out of 10, with just 2% of respondents giving very low ratings of one or two.

Dunning pointed out respondents were more willing to criticize the debt of others than their own.

“Many Canadians believe that other people have taken on too much debt or have bought homes for which they are unprepared,” he said. “But when responses about their own situations are aggregated, most believe that they have been responsible.”

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