May 7, 2012

‘Buy Now’ Wins Over ‘Wait A While’

The latest poll taken by the Royal Bank finds the ‘overwhelming majority’ of Canadians remain confident in home ownership.

Kevin Lutz, regional manager, mortgage specialists, Royal Bank of Canada

An increasing majority of Canadians believe that now is the time to get into the housing market (59 per cent, up four percentage points from last year), instead of waiting until next year (41 per cent), according to the 19th Annual RBC Home- ownership Poll.

This year, slightly more Canadians say they are unlikely to buy within the next two years (73 per cent, up two percentage points), even as confidence in homeownership is on the rise. A majority of Canadians believe housing is a good investment (88 per cent, up two percentage points from last year) and more than two-thirds (68 per cent) believe the value of their home has increased in the past two years, similar to last year (69 per cent). Three-quarters of Canadians (74 per cent) feel they are well positioned to weather a potential downturn in home prices.

The RBC poll found that after four years of sentiment favouring a buyer’s market, the tide appears to be turning. More Canadians surveyed this year feel the current housing market is a seller’s market, in which sellers have the advantage because the number of buyers exceeds the number of homes available (27 per cent, up from 20 per cent in 2011). Nearly 4-in-10 Canadians say it is a buyer’s market, in which buyers have the advantage because the number of houses available exceeds the number of buyers (38 per cent, down two percentage points from a year ago). Fewer believe that the housing market is balanced (36 per cent, down from 40 per cent a year ago).

Less than half of Canadians (47 per cent) feel housing prices will be higher this time next year, down five percentage points from last year (52 per cent), while more Canadians expect prices to be stable (30 per cent, up from 27 per cent in 2011). Nearly half of respondents (46 per cent) expect mortgage rates to stay the same next year, up sharply from 30 per cent in 2011, while significantly fewer anticipate higher rates (41 per cent, down sharply from 60 per cent in 2011).

Prospective homebuyers who plan to buy in the next two years cited some concern about home prices increasing (23 per cent) and mortgage rates rising (22 per cent). These were followed by their current debt levels (20 per cent), qualifying for a mortgage (19 per cent), and having a good down payment (16 per cent).

British Columbians are narrowly divided when asked whether it makes more sense to buy a house now (52 per cent) or wait until next year (48 per cent), given current housing prices and economic conditions. Two-thirds of prospective homebuyers in British Columbia (66 per cent) said they were not likely to buy a home within the next two years, well below the national average (73 per cent).

“There’s a mix of opinions on the housing market, as Canadians still feel confident about real estate but are a little uncertain about where the market is heading and when it makes sense to buy,” said Marcia Moffat, head of home equity financing, RBC. “Considerations such as affordability and available housing choices may be the difference between intent and reality when purchasing a home.” Getting expert advice from a mortgage specialist on financing options and the all-in costs of home ownership can help you make an informed decision.

Follow Kevin Lutz on Twitter @RBCKevinLutz

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