If you are interested in purchasing a residential property in 2023, the competition will be fierce as housing supply remains tight and demand begins to be renewed. Mortgage rates have likely peaked, the consumer remains in decent shape, the Canadian government’s immigration program anticipates seeing hundreds of thousands of newcomers in the next couple of years, and the national economy is holding steady.
While housing affordability is not at the forefront of the federal government as it was in the last election campaign, many local governments are taking action to ensure that more Canadians can achieve the dream of homeownership. But will this be enough to increase housing opportunities and ownership rates? Many industry observers argue that federal 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 facilitate more supply initiatives, like streamlining new developments and speeding up the application process.
Indeed, despite the housing correction over the last 18 months, prices are still above their pre-pandemic levels, be it a detached residential property in Atlantic Canada or a condominium in downtown Toronto. This has left many Canadian households to continue renting, which has also become an exorbitant expense in plenty of markets.
So, are these trends weighing on homeownership rates across the country?
Home Ownership Rates Drop Across Canadian Real Estate Market
Since the beginning of the century, the homeownership rate in the Canadian real estate market has steadily risen, climbing from 63.9 per cent in 2000 to an all-time high of 68.55 per cent in 2019. However, according to Statistics Canada, the national homeownership rate slipped to a four-year low of 66.5 per cent in 2022. In all provinces, homeownership rates have been on the decline.
Here is a breakdown of provincial homeownership levels:
British Columbia: -3.2 per cent to 66.8 per cent
Alberta: -2.7 per cent to 70.9 per cent
Saskatchewan: -1.9 per cent to 70.7 per cent
Manitoba: -2.6 per cent to 67.4 per cent
Ontario: -3.1 per cent to 68.4 per cent
New Brunswick: -2.7 per cent to 73 per cent
Nova Scotia: -4 per cent to 66.8 per cent
Prince Edward Island: -4.6 per cent to 68.8 per cent
Newfoundland and Labrador: -1.8 per cent to 75.7 per cent
Put simply, the homeownership rate is higher at the provincial level than nationally. However, the two most populous and expensive Canadian real estate markets – Ontario and British Columbia – are closer to what it is nationwide.
In addition, Canada ranked 23rd among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. This was also below the OECD’s average of 71.5 per cent.
Overall, everything that has transpired over the past year, from higher interest rates to slowing economic conditions, has discouraged young Canadians about owning a residential property.
Survey: Young Canadians Discouraged About Homeownership
According to the Bank of Montreal’s recent Real Financial Progress Index, 68 per cent of Canadians feel purchasing a home is out of reach. Seventy-one per cent of Generation Z Canadians (18 to 24) are most likely to share this view. This is followed by 69 per cent of younger millennials (25 to 34) and 65 per cent of older millennials (35 to 44).
The June 2023 survey from the financial institution revealed that 67 per cent of Generation Z Canadians plan to defer their home-buying efforts, while 73 per cent of younger millennials postpone their home-buying plans.
“While the challenging market and economic conditions may pose hurdles and uncertainty, we encourage Canadians to work with a professional advisor or planner to explore the many paths to homeownership,” said Gayle Ramsay, the head of everyday Banking, segment and Customer Growth at BMO, in a statement.
Finally, 71 per cent of Canadians consider housing costs the third largest source of financial anxiety, following unknown expenses and concerns about their personal finances.
Another Stark Revelation: Falling Housing Investment
Housing investment is falling across the country.
Statistics Canada recently reported that investment in building construction slumped 1.3 per cent in March to $20.3 billion. Within this category, residential sector investment construction tumbled 2.1 per cent to $14.6 billion, while non-residential sector spending rose 0.9 per cent to $5.7 billion.
The statistics agency discovered that investment in single-family homes dropped 1.8 per cent to $7.9 billion, with seven provinces recording declines. Moreover, multi-unit construction slipped 2.4 per cent to $6.7 billion, led by Ontario (-4.7 per cent).
This trend is seen in new housing construction activity data Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) data show that housing starts declined 23 per cent month-over-month in May, totalling 202,494 units. Despite an immense jump in April, it was down considerably in March at 213,800 units.
Rishi Sondhi, an economist at TD Bank, says this has been expected due to declines in home sales feeding “into falling construction activity.”
“This is also consistent with permit issuance, which has dropped to 2019 levels, before the pandemic-induced runup in demand and construction,” Sondhi wrote in a research note.
“That said, starts are volatile and not every data point will move in a straight line downwards. Even with today’s decline, starts are tracking 4% higher than their first-quarter average, thanks to an April pop. This, alongside what will likely be a super-sized gain in home sales should generate a positive second-quarter growth print for residential investment, supporting the overall economy.”
Heading Into 2024 – and Beyond!
The Canadian real estate market has many storylines to follow, from high borrowing costs to tight inventories. The coming year should be an exciting time in Canada, with many components that could weigh on or support the direction of the overall housing activity, be it interest rates or local reforms. Whether prices will rebound in the second half of 2023 and heading into 2024 remains to be seen.