MONTREAL - Younger Canadians are expected to lead the way with home buying this year as they take advantage of low interest rates, new jobs and what they consider "good prices," a bank survey says.
The survey for the Royal Bank suggested that 15 per cent of Canadians between the ages of 18 and 24 were very likely to buy, almost double from eight per cent in 2009.
It's a marked shift in the attitudes of younger Canadians, who have tightened their budgets over the past few years to cope with tough jobs markets and the recession.
"Our poll found that 35 per cent of younger Canadians, between the ages of 18 and 24, are intending to buy a home due to good real estate prices," Marcia Moffat, RBC's head of home equity financing in Toronto, said Monday.
The national average price for a home was $328,537 in January, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.
Thirty-one per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds surveyed in the online poll said they would buy a house because of a new job. The survey also found 22 per cent in that young age group wanted to buy a home because they considered interest rates were good.
CIBC World Markets senior economist Benjamin Tal said more young people are getting into the real estate market, taking advantage of low interest rates, lower down payments and more years to pay off their mortgages.
Tal said he estimates the young people getting into the market as a bit older, between the ages of 22 and 28.
"Basically parents are begging their kids to buy now because they remember when they were paying 12 to 15 per cent mortgage interest," Tal said.
"So there's a sense of urgency to get into the market and young people are a part of it."
Tal described the coming real estate market of the next three or four years as "boring."
"I think that what we are doing now is that we are basically stealing activity from the future."
The RBC survey also suggested that overall attitudes are changing as more Canadians return to shopping for homes as the economy recovers, even though it's considered a seller's market.
"Confidence in the housing market is back, essentially," RBC senior economist Robert Hogue said.
Royal Bank said the study found more Canadians are "very likely" to buy a new home in the next two years.
Ten per cent of the 2,047 people of all ages surveyed for the study said they planned to buy a home within two years - up from seven per cent two years ago.
The RBC study also found that 91 per cent of Canadian homeowners believe a home is a good investment, the highest level in 12 years.
"At this stage last year, there was doom and gloom all around and it definitely affected the housing market," Hogue said.
One-quarter of those surveyed, 26 per cent, said they expect their home to be their primary source of income when they retire.
However, the surge in optimism doesn't necessarily mean that Canadians have forgotten about past economic troubles.
The survey found they are still more cautious when it comes to mortgages. Forty-four per cent of those surveyed who plan to buy a home in the next two years said they would take a fixed-rate mortgage.
Also on Monday, the latest new homes numbers showed that the annual rate of housing starts were up in February.
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said that the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts reached 196,700 units in February, an increase from 185,400 in January 2010.
Senior CMHC economist Bill Clark said the market is seeing a lot of "catch-up" and consumers in Ontario and B.C. are likely trying to avoid the harmonized sales tax before the summer.
"So if you roll all of that together it's really sort of one big recipe for housing starts to go up," Clark said.
The report showed the gain was concentrated in the multiple starts segment, particularly in Toronto.
Urban starts increased nine per cent to 179,100 units in February.
Urban multiple starts increased by 19.1 per cent to 89,900 units, while single urban starts increased by 0.5 per cent to 89,200 units.
The annual rate of urban starts increased 28.6 per cent in Ontario in February, 14.3 per cent in Atlantic Canada, 10.8 per cent in the Prairies and by eight per cent in British Columbia.
In Quebec, urban starts fell 14.1 per cent.
Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 17,600 units in February.