Condo supply in the country’s largest markets might see significant increases in the near future, but on the whole, young professionals and starting families will still prefer single-detached homes, a Globe and Mail politics/business columnist has argued.
While well-intentioned, a federal policy focused on boosting the availability of low-cost condo units in downtown areas “may have unwittingly encouraged urban sprawl by forcing more Canadians to look further to the exurbs to realize their dream of a owning a detached, single-family home with a yard,” Konrad Yakabuski wrote in his latest column.
“Extending the amortization period on insured mortgages, easing the stress test introduced last year or increasing the $750 tax credit for first-time buyers might encourage more millennials to purchase a condo, the only type of property within financial reach,” he added. “But since most millennials ultimately aspire to purchase of a single-family home, it’s worthwhile asking whether Canada needs any more condos right now.”
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One should look no further than Greater Montreal to witness evidence of the phenomenon. Updated numbers provided by the Quebec statistics agency showed that nearly 24,000 residents – a significant proportion of which were young households – moved from Montreal to the suburbs and exurbs in 2018. This was the largest off-core migration since 2010.
“Attempts by urban planners and policy-makers to condition Canadians into accepting condo living as a permanent state in life have not stopped millennials from dreaming the suburban dream,” Yakabuski stated. “After all, Mr. Moreau, that 500-square-foot box in the sky gets tired after a while.”
Most importantly, younger Canadians are willing to take their mobility in their own hands if it means having their own suburban single-detached property, “preferably with a big yard for their kids, while having a little left over to spend on travel or to sock away in a retirement savings account.”
“More Canadians than ever are driving to work, proof that efforts to promote mass transit and densification have not succeeded in killing the dream of a house in the suburbs,” Yakabuski said, citing StatsCan data that showed an 80% share of the population commuting to work by car (either as drivers or passengers) in 2016.
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