If you are interested in purchasing a residential property in 2021, expect that it may be slightly harder to achieve the Canadian Dream. Housing supply continues to tighten in the face of strong demand. With low interest rates, evolving consumer trends, normalizing immigration, and a recovering Canadian economy, many expect home prices to continue rising in the Canadian real estate market, whether in major urban centres or rural communities dotting the nation. Conditions are easing and stabilizing, but the post-COVID housing market undoubtedly looks very different.

During the most recent federal election campaign, the major political parties put forth their plans to mitigate the housing affordability crisis and ensure Canadians who want to buy a home, can do so. But will this be enough to increase housing opportunities and ownership rates? Many industry observers argue that their policy proposals, such as home renovation tax credits and co-housing CMHC-backed mortgages, might not be enough to curb sky-high prices. Instead, policymakers need to endorse more supply initiatives, like streamlining new developments and speeding up the application process.

Until more housing supply is introduced, the challenges may continue for many, including newcomers trying to buy into the Canadian real estate market – whether it’s a detached home in Atlantic Canada or a condominium in Vancouver. In the meantime, many Canadians have been sitting on the sidelines of the housing market, renting until affordability returns to the market. According to a recent report, home-ownership rates have declined nationwide.

Home Ownership Rates Drop Across Canadian Real Estate Market

Over the last 20 years, the home-ownership rate in Canada has steadily increased, rising from 63.9 per cent in early 2000 to 68.55 per cent before the coronavirus pandemic. But while the majority of Canadians own their dwellings, about one-third of the population were renting. With most renters concentrated in two provinces: Ontario and British Columbia.

With criticisms that all the party leaders focused their policy proposals on home-ownership rather than renters, this could cause some problems in the two most populous provinces. In fact, most eligible voters in Ontario are not even homeowners, particularly among millennials.

Here is a breakdown of homeowners and non-homeowners in these places, based on figures from Statistics Canada:

Ontario

18-to-34

  • Homeowners: 319,295
  • Non-Homeowners: 2,481,539

35-to-54

  • Homeowners: 1,380,254
  • Non-Homeowners: 2,002,721

55+

  • Homeowners: 2,053,363
  • Non-homeowners: 2,233,408

British Columbia

18-to-34

  • Homeowners: 96,723
  • Non-Homeowners: 833,303

35-to-54

  • Homeowners: 433,804
  • Non-Homeowners: 723,006

55+

  • Homeowners: 826,399
  • Non-Homeowners: 756,740

Put simply, the home-ownership rate is high at the national level. However, when you dive deeper into provincial numbers, especially in two of the most expensive provinces in the country, the numbers flip. It is costly to rent in municipalities like Toronto and Vancouver, forcing young people to spend more years saving and paying skyrocketing rent rates.

Better Dwelling also made this important note: “It’s not a new issue either, it was present during the last election, people just didn’t know it.”

Another Stark Revelation: Falling Housing Investment

A different trend is slowly surfacing in the Canadian real estate market and the broader national economy: sliding housing investment.

According to the Bank of Montreal (BMO), investment in Canada’s residential construction sector tumbled at an annualized rate of 12.4 per cent in the second quarter of 2021, contributing to the 1.1-per-cent year-over-year gross domestic product (GDP) contraction. This is crucial because this segment of the market represents more than 10 per cent of the Canadian economy.

“Despite more home building and renovation spending, the segment fell due to a retreat in ownership transfer costs, as sales pulled back from record heights,” wrote BMO senior economist Sal Guatieri in a research note. “The report is a timely reminder that the housing sector is now such a large slice of GDP, that it’s likely to act as a drag for some time.”

Meanwhile, this could lead to a concerning trend in the housing industry since less residential investment could translate to less supply.

Heading Into 2022 – and Beyond!

The Canadian real estate market has many storylines to follow, from low borrowing costs to tight inventories. The coming year should be an exciting time in Canada, with many components weighing on the direction of overall housing activity, such as interest rates, federal election policies materializing, professionals transitioning back to the workplace, and so much more.

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