Pattie Lovett-Reid: Housing affordability is rapidly becoming a personal and political issue
HUNTSVILLE, ONT. -- As we progress through year two of the pandemic, more and more Canadians know how and where they want to live, work and even play.
Residential and recreational real estate is hot right now, supported by strong employment, unprecedented savings levels and low interest rates. In fact, 12 major markets have posted price gains of more than 30%, according to data from the Canadian Real Estate Association.
RBC is the latest, out with their Spring Housing Poll that dives into the complicated factors behind home ownership in Canada. According to the poll out Monday, 36% of non- homeowners under the age of 40 have given up on owning a home. And what is worse: 62% of Canadians say that most people will be priced out of the housing market in the next decade.
The road to home ownership has never been easy, but the last year has created both challenges and opportunities, according to Amit Sahasrabudhe, Vice-President of Home Equity Financing, Products and Acquisitions, RBC.
The poll results underscore that home ownership is complicated: 41% are thinking of buying a home sooner due to low interest rates, while 61% believe home values will go up in the immediate future.
And yet, four-out-of-five still think housing is a good investment.
But there are others prepared to hold off on a home purchase due to economic uncertainty (56%), a belief prices could come down (41%), affordability concerns (35%) and job anxiety (30%).
Depending on where you stand, the fear is prices could fall as fast as they have risen - or not.
However, Rob McLister of RATESDOTCA believes the housing market has gone too far, too fast.
Something has to slow things down without decimating the entire market and steps are in motion. The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OFSI) has kicked off the consultative period before the stress test for uninsured mortgages climbs to 5.25% from 4.79% on June 1st.
Some answers could come by way of the Federal Budget on April 19th, when we may see a tightening of the stress test on lower ratio mortgages and, possibly, the introduction of a speculation tax or a levy on non-residential homebuyers. There is even the possibility we could see the end of the exemption of capital gains for primary residences.
There is also hope the lack of housing supply will be addressed in the budget, and not simply the demand side of the equation.
In the meantime, our banking system is strong and you can be sure lenders will ensure qualified borrowers have been income-verified, reasonable amortizations are in place and there is strict adherence to debt-servicing limits.
As you can see, housing affordability is rapidly becoming a personal and political issue.