Fifty-one per cent of Canadians are considering buying a home in the next five years, according to a recent RE/MAX survey. This number is up from 36 per cent one year ago. As the price of real estate in Canada rises in many major urban markets, this shift comes as homebuyers adapt to the mortgage stress test, and enjoy increased purchasing power as Millennials enter their peak earning years. Despite these intentions, the high price of homes continues to impact market activity in Greater Vancouver and real estate in Ontario – specifically the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area, with tertiary effects on more-affordable housing markets surrounding Toronto and reaching as far as Niagara, Ottawa and even the Atlantic provinces. These factors have prompted an evolution of property types and how consumers are buying them. Ultimately, if your goal is to become a homeowner, you’ve got options.
Creative ways people are buying real estate in Canada
1. Widen your search.
Condos offer affordability by virtue of their design – their compact size comes with a smaller price tag. Shared amenities mean you’ll have to pay condo fees, but the cost is lower than what you’d pay for the same services in a freehold home. And oftentimes condos are located on or near transit hubs that allow you to get by without owning a car.
If you’re not willing to compromise on square footage, then you could be a “move-over” buyer on a suburban trajectory. Living in the suburbs or even in a neighbouring city often means longer commutes to work, family and friends, shopping and daily errands. But for those who want the extra bedroom, a backyard and perhaps a pool, it could be worth the trade-off.
2. Increase your funds.
First of all, let’s look at the money you may already have that can help you buy a home. Have you been contributing to an RRSP? Aside from the tax benefits of doing so, the first-time Home Buyers’ Plan lets you borrow up to $35,000 from your RRSP to put toward the purchase of a home. If you’re buying a home with someone else who qualifies as a first-time buyer, they can also borrow $35,000 for a total of $70,000!
Keep in mind that the HBP is essentially an interest-free loan from your retirement fund. Beginning the second year after your withdrawal, you’ll need to start re-funding your RRSP with the amount you borrowed. You’ll have 15 years to repay and if you don’t, you will be taxed.
Now, let’s look at the money you don’t have, but could have with some careful planning and self-control. Assuming you are employed (and for most of us, there’s no way around this one), set aside as much as possible from every paycheque into a high-interest savings account, a Tax Free Savings Account or another low-risk investment vehicle. The amount you can realistically save will depend on factors like your income, regular bills, debt payments and lifestyle. Some of these you can’t control while others you can.
Admittedly, the saving process takes time, but this is nothing new. With time, willpower and a plan, home ownership is within your reach.
The First Time Home Buyer Incentive
The federal government introduced the First Time Home Buyer Incentive in fall of 2020, to help homeowner carry the hefty weight on their mortgage payments. Here’s how it works: the FTHBI is a shared-equity mortgage aimed at middle-class first-time homebuyers. The government contributes five per cent of the price of a resale home, or five to 10 per cent of the price of a newly constructed home. This amount is applied is a second mortgage on the title of the property, but no regular principal payments are required. The loan is interest free, and it can be repaid at any time without incurring penalties. While homebuyers are off the hook for interest payments on this loan, this “shared equity mortgage” which means the government benefits from increases in your property value when you sell (or after 25 years, whichever comes first). However, if the value of your home falls, your repayment amount to the government will be lower than the amount originally borrowed.
3. Buy with a buddy.
If you’re not crazy about the idea of the government owning a share of your home, consider buying with a buddy. There’s (purchasing) power in numbers! Those who find they can’t afford to buy a home on their own in their preferred area and increasingly looking to co-ownership as a feasible option. The pooling of resources allows buyers to boost their collective down payment and the amount of mortgage they’ll qualify for. Buying a home with family or friends also eases the pressure of the ongoing expenses associated with home ownership, such as property taxes, utilities and maintenance. Share in the cost, share in the rewards! But buyer beware: make sure you work with an experienced real estate lawyer who handles these types of purchases. Remember, this is a legally binding contract with obligations.
Which GTA region has seen the biggest decline in real estate prices since February market peak? – Toronto.com
Real estate prices across Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) have taken a pounding since reaching record highs in February.
In February, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) reported an average GTA sale price for all dwelling types combined of $1,334,544. In TRREB’s July report, that average fell to $1,074,754 — a 19.5 per cent decline in just five months.
Prices have fallen further in some areas than others, with Durham Region leading the way with a 26.6 per cent decline. Southern areas of Simcoe County were a close second with a 24.8 per cent decline in average prices, followed by York Region at 19.7 and Peel Region at 19 per cent. Real estate prices have fallen 18.1 per cent and 15.8 per cent in Halton Region and Toronto, respectively.
Durham Region led the way in price declines for detached homes, seeing a 29.1 per cent decline, followed by Toronto and Simcoe County both at 26.9 per cent. Detached units sold for 20.7 per cent less on average in July compared to February, while detached ditched home in Peel Region have dropped 20.3 per cent and 19.9 per cent in Halton Region.
Semi-detached homes broke down a little differently. Durham also saw the steepest decline for that segment at 25.8 per cent, followed by York at 25.4 per cent and Peel at 25 per cent. Semi -detached home prices in Halton declined by an average of 22.9 per cent, with Simcoe seeing a 15.5 per cent drop followed closely by Toronto with 15.4 per cent decline in average price for semi-detached units.
Condo apartment prices have fared a little better in most regions outside of Simcoe, which has seen condo prices tumble 35.2 per cent since February. Durham condo apartments have lost 17.3 per cent in value over the past five months, with Peel Region and York Region condos seeing 15.3 and 13.5 per cent declines, respectively.
Toronto condos fared a little better, seeing only a 9.5 per cent decline between February and January. Condos in Halton Region have held their value the best so far, only declining by 4.2 per cent.
The table below shows a breakdown of how much the average price for all dwelling types combined in all cities and towns monitored by TRREB have fallen since the GTA market peaked in February.
A real estate transaction gave me neighbours. A car crash taught me to value them – CBC.ca
This First Person article is the experience of Becky Sarafinchan who lives in Calgary. For more information about CBC’s First Person stories, please see the FAQ.
The crush of glass and metal silenced us mid-phrase, the kids and I on that early spring day. I saw their frozen expressions as I wondered if I had really heard or felt that sound. We ran outside.
Across our busy street, a SUV straddled the yellow line. Its grill faced the crumpled remains of our neighbour’s two parked cars. Two cars, swiped by one driver. My neighbours stared in shock at the sad mix of wreckage, nose to bumper.
But this is a feel-good story. It’s not about race track streets or distracted drivers. It’s about neighbours. It’s about me discovering that I care what happens to the people across the street, even when their lives merge little with mine. It’s about the unexpected cheer that brings.
For most of my 16 years on Coventry Hills Way, in the suburbs of north central Calgary, the greatest common bond I shared with my neighbours was geographical. The random act of real estate mixed me up with folks I only knew in smiles and waves outside our garage doors. My life was filled with kids and work; I rarely thought of those who lived around me.
Until the pandemic, that is. Until human interaction became a source of anxiety worldwide and we were told to run for cover. In those long and bizarre periods of isolation when I couldn’t see friends and family, I could still see my neighbours walking by every evening. We could share a weary smile and sometimes — from a distance — we talked.
On the afternoon of the accident, I noticed Jennifer standing with the stunned car owners on the other side of the street. She was talking and pointing; the first to offer assistance. Although I’ve only ever spoken with Jennifer a few times, I knew she was open and kindhearted. It relieved me when I saw her talking with the neighbours. It felt like they were in good hands.
Someone called the police and a few people left to check their home security cameras for footage. Another neighbour motioned for the driver of the SUV to move to the sidewalk; he was still standing in the street.
A group of teens, armed with the vehicle description, headed off to find an eyewitness who had left the scene. The adults compared stories of what each had seen and felt.
Across the road, a young man dragged the bumper of his car onto his lawn. He crossed the street to a group of us, onlookers, huddled in a semicircle. He was debating if he should accept the offer: should he just settle with the driver of the SUV?
The group reacted at once: No! You can get help. It will be OK.
We lingered on the sidewalk and a conversation expanded beyond the crash. We began to talk about hockey and school; about work and the vacations we hoped to take. Normal stuff, but I had never stood and talked, never opened up about anything with my neighbours before. It felt new.
Soon the teenagers returned from their search for an eyewitness. “We found the guy who left the scene!” they grinned, triumphant. They had checked his vehicle. “We even felt the tailpipe on his truck and it’s still warm!” To their delight, the police wanted to know.
I watched those tall boys talk, eager to share and flush with their success.
Standing in this group of people, suddenly feeling that they were my people, I felt lighter. It took me by surprise. I’d never thought of them as my people before. In the past, I was aloof and comfortable — a wave and smile would suffice for neighbourliness.
In truth, we don’t share interests; we don’t share the same ethnic backgrounds or weekend habits. We weren’t all on the same page about COVID-19 – some of us were supportive and others against mask and vaccine mandates.
Maybe that’s what makes the huddled conversation on the day of the accident so special. It doesn’t matter if we’d naturally be friends had we not physically lived beside each other. It doesn’t matter that we have different views and beliefs. We are neighbours. That counts for something.
In the months since the accident I’ve thought a lot about what changed for me that day. It’s like the pieces fit together and I was able to discover a gift I’d never seen before.
We visit more now. We share gardening tips and someone suggested a block party. There’s even – imagine! – an inside joke or two we share. Community is growing where once I saw a street of strangers. I don’t ever want to lose sight of that gift.
Telling your story
CBC Calgary is running a series of in-person writing workshops across the city to support community members telling their own stories.
Read more from the workshop hosted by the Northern Hills Community Association:
To find out more about our writing workshops or to propose a community organization to help host, email CBC producer Elise Stolte.
Here's what you need to know about Squamish Real Estate – Squamish Chief
With Canada’s annual inflation rates spiking in June and a market still reeling from a global pandemic, local real estate in Squamish has seen its fair share of unpredictable ups and downs.
“In May, I started saying that it felt like someone had flipped a switch,” said Jennifer Sale, a local Realtor in Squamish with Sutton West Coast Realty. “I’d say the peak was probably end of March, beginning of April. That was when I [saw] multiple offers and things going for quite a bit over. That has definitely changed.”
With various factors coming into play, such as higher mortgage rates and low inventory, Sale says that some buyers appear to be growing wary of the local market while having trouble qualifying for a mortgage.
“We were experiencing a really hot period earlier in the year because the inventory was so low that there were so many more multiple offers versus pent-up demand,” Sale said. “So buyers were competing for properties.”
“Now with the increased rates … it’s really tapered off the number of sales,” she said. “There were only eight detached home sales in July.”
Feeling the pinch
“Everybody’s feeling the pinch in one way or another,” said Lisa Bjornson of Royal LePage. “Since the beginning of June, probably into May, we started to see a shift in market trends in that … multiple offers are off the table, days on the market have lengthened, inventory has come up somewhat. So it’s definitely slowed the market down.”
Yet historically, real estate sales during the summer are often low.
“Summers traditionally aren’t a hugely active market in the Squamish area,” said Bjornson. “It’s not uncommon to have July and August be on the slower side.”
However, looking back at summer sales in Squamish real estate from last year, Bjornson says there has been a drastic difference.
“Last year was a record-breaking year,” she said. “We’d never seen the likes of it in Squamish, in B.C., in Canada.”
Originally when the pandemic first hit in 2020, Bjornson says that the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation advised realtors that housing was going to plummet with a market drop of 20%. Yet their predictions were incorrect, with sales going up at the same rate they thought they would fall.
“COVID had the opposite effect of what everyone anticipated,” said Sale. “Since then, we’ve had these unprecedented increases not only in Squamish, but throughout B.C..”
When remote work became more of an option during the pandemic, many people realized that they did not have to remain in cities and began looking to buy outside of urban areas. Those within the Vancouver region who were of middle to high income were able to afford the prices just outside of the city, bringing an influx of buyers to Squamish.
“It locked everybody up, changed everybody’s mindset,” Bjornson said. “Many people started to work from home and people started to homeschool. People thought, ‘I’m not putting my loved one in care’. We’re going to generationally live. How people viewed housing and what their needs were changed drastically.”
Over the course of the two years from March of 2020 to now, other challenges such as supply chain issues and labour became evident and began to affect real estate.
“There’s so many forces at play when it comes to what makes up a housing market.”
In addition to an influx of people leaving the city to be in smaller areas, Sale says that she has also noticed single people moving between townhomes to condos to half-duplexes.
“People are always a little worried about getting out of the market. So it’s always nice to move within the same market,” said Sale. “Now that it’s slowed down, I think that’s gonna be a lot easier for many people.”
Overall, though interest rates are currently high, real estate prices in Squamish are seeing a return to relative normalcy.
“We’re not seeing multiple offers. We’re not seeing things go for $200,000 over ask,” said Bjornson. “We’re seeing negotiations, we’re seeing prices moderate.”
As for the coming months heading into fall, Bjornson says that she predicts longer days on the market.
“If we suddenly get an uptick COVID coming into the fall of winter, does that change people again about how they’re feeling and what their wants and needs are? Hard to say,” she said. “The general feeling kind of across the board is that we had a tremendous run-up for 20 plus months and for any real estate cycle that was long. So the normal calming and settling of the market is to be expected.”
For those currently looking to sell in Squamish, Bjornson recommends that people be reasonable and pay attention to what the market is currently doing. “It’s still an OK market; you’re not losing anything. Govern yourself according to what the market conditions are. And if you’re a buyer, get your pre-qualification and know what price point you should be shopping in.”
“I would say to list a realistic price point,” concurred Sale. “Take the advice of your realtor and watch the market carefully.”
Sale adds that comparing prices month to month with your neighbours is not helpful when trying to place a price on a home.
“It’s always hard to see what your neighbour sold for in February or March,” she said. “You have to work within the market that we’re in.”
“The last couple of years there’s greater demand for people wanting to be in Squamish,” said Sale. “I don’t think there’s going to be a big drop-off. I think now it’s changed from a seller’s market, shifted briefly into a balanced market, and I think in some product categories, it’s definitely a buyers market.”
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