Brought about by shifting market conditions, the face of the average Canadian homebuyer is also undergoing substantial changes.
As revealed in a national survey from RE/MAX, almost one in five prospective buyers in Alberta is single, with the number of young buyers – those aged 18 to 34 – the highest amongst all the provinces at 40 per cent.
“Today’s real estate consumer is more experienced and financially prudent than in the past,” said Elton Ash, regional executive vice president, RE/ MAX of Western Canada. “Recent global events—in concert with new mortgage finance rules—have fuelled a more conservative mindset that will serve Canadians well moving forward. It seems the lessons of excess are being heeded.”
Other findings in RE/MAX’s Canadian Homebuying Trends Survey 2013-2014, which was conducted among 1,109 prospective purchasers who intend to buy within the next 24 months, included the fact multi-time buyers represent 70 per cent of those serious about buying a home.
In Alberta, 22 per cent those surveyed were entering the marker for the first-time, 32 per cent were second- time buyers and 47 per cent were multi-time homebuyers. Aside from the large number of single Albertans intending to purchase a home, 42 per cent are couples and 38 per cent have families. While 40 per cent of buyers were under the age of 35, 42 per cent are between 35-54 years old, with buyers aged 55 and up making up 18 per cent of those surveyed.
When it comes to how much money those buyers were willing to put down, 32 per cent of Albertans intended to have a down payment of more than 30 per cent, with the majority of buyers (58%) looking to buy in the $250,000 to $500,000 price range.
“Serious equity gains have bolstered the level of down payment homeowners can put forth,” said Ash. “As a result, they’re clearly in a stronger financial position. They’re also more cautious, as demonstrated by our survey findings. Many are downsizing or making lateral moves. A redefined mindset has the market looking solid through 2013-2014.”
When it came to purchasing a home as an investment, half of Albertans believe housing values will rise in their area, while 34 per cent believe they will remain the same. Only seven per cent believe housing values will decline.
“Canadians remain confident in the future of housing— and this was demonstrated nationally across all demographics— regardless of income, gender, age, or location,” said Ash. “The level of enthusiasm bodes well, as a substantial barometer of market health. The outlook is positive.”
Low vacancy rates and higher rental costs, combined with favourable interest rates, are the primary impetus for those currently renting accommodations, and ultimately, behind their decision to buy a home. At present, 29 per cent of those surveyed rent, while 68 per cent owned their own property.
The vast majority of purchasers surveyed continue to seek out single-detached homes (53 per cent), while condominiums ranked second at 17 per cent, followed by both semi-detached/duplex and townhouse/rowhouse each at 11 per cent.
Alberta had the largest component of urban-bound purchasers in the survey at 50 per cent, with 24 per cent of prospective buyers in the province opting for the suburbs, and one per cent moving out of the city altogether.
Lifestyle and investment were the principle drivers in the decision to purchase a home. Buyers, for the most part, were interested in larger properties (17 per cent), updated homes (six per cent), and different neighbourhoods (11 per cent), while others were intent to downsize to smaller accommodations (14 per cent).