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Young Canadians still prefer single-detached homes over condos

by Ephraim Vecina on 28 Feb 2019

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.”

Read more: Could ‘micro living’ catch on in Toronto?

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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