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Brave New Buyer: The New Canadian Homebuyer Is a Solo Homebuyer

Despite reporting high home prices as the biggest obstacle to home ownership, four in 10 renters would apply for a mortgage alone.

by Andra Hopulele
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8 min. read

There’s no doubt that buying a condo would be easier than buying a single-family home, especially for first-time buyers trying to get on the property ladder and start building equity. There’s also no doubt that two incomes are better than one when it comes to fulfilling renters’ home ownership dreams. But that’s not what Canadian homebuyers are doing.

A new Point2 survey focusing on Canadian renters’ home ownership plans revealed that four in 10 renters were willing to apply for a mortgage alone. What used to be the default for decades — meaning applying for a mortgage with a spouse — is taking second place to going it alone.

Here are some generational insights that the Renter to Homeowner Point2 survey revealed:

  • The Age of the Paradox: Most renters (42%) — and from all generations except one — are considering applying for a mortgage alone, despite citing high home prices as the main hurdle on their path toward home ownership (39%), followed by down payment worries (27%).
  • Gen Z: The youngest generation of renters has big plans: Most of the respondents under 25 want to buy within the next 12 months (72%) and many have already saved up to $30,000.
  • Younger Millennials: Although they are slightly less determined than their younger counterparts, most Millennials under 35 want to buy within the year (57%) and 76% have saved up to $50,000.
  • Older Millennials: The only age group that is still primarily considering buying a home with their spouse (50%), older Millennials are also the only generation that’s slightly more worried about the down payment (35% of respondents) than they are about the high home prices (34%).
  • Gen X: Renters aged 45 to 54 also want to buy a home alone (47%), but seem to be more worried about their credit score than other generations.
  • Baby Boomers: Homebuyers over 60 are looking for smaller single-family homes (possibly in an attempt to downsize) but are mostly unsure about when they will actually commit to this decision.

 

Going Solo: Canadian Renters Are Breaking the Double Bond Between Marriage & Home Ownership

Young adults and single people are starting to separate two ideas that truly seemed inseparable: Buying a home doesn’t necessarily mean they need to find a partner and get married, and getting or being married isn’t a prerequisite for home ownership.

Although the reasons vary depending on the generation, the number of Canadians living alone is increasing — and they are becoming increasingly comfortable with the idea of taking up the challenge of home ownership on their own.

 

 

Looking at the overall results, an eyebrow-raising four in 10 renters would be willing to apply for a mortgage alone, which is more than for any other option available in the survey. Gen X and Baby Boomers have the highest shares of renters who are willing (and probably most able) to go it alone. Around half of respondents aged 55 to 64 (52%) and those aged 45 to 54 (47%) are confident that they can apply for a mortgage on a single income.

Two other generations that put home ownership before marriage are Gen Z — somewhat unsurprisingly given their young age — and younger Millennials. No matter whether they’re considering getting married later on, they don’t want to give up on owning their home. Older Millennials are the only generation that is still thinking about going the traditional way: Many of them are already married, so most respondents in this age group (50%) said they would apply for a mortgage with their spouse.

Respondents’ willingness to buy a home on their own — despite the growing worries related to increasing home prices and high mortgage rates — signals how important and relevant home ownership remains for Canadians of all generations.

Analyzing renters’ answers regarding the most worrisome obstacles to their home ownership dreams, it quickly becomes apparent that home prices, mortgage rates and down payment amounts may be going up, but so is renters’ desire to secure their ideal home — even if they have to do it on their own.

The least of their worries? Student debt. Although a bachelor’s degree means a graduate starts with an average debt of $30,600, very few survey takers reported that they were worried about the effect of this debt on their homebuying plans.

 

 

 

 

Why Are Marriage & Homeownership Drifting Apart?

In a culture that values autonomy and freedom, moving from the family home, starting university, applying for a job may entail a lot of consideration, discussions and even help from others, but are ultimately individual pursuits. Applying for a mortgage might just be the next challenge that Canadians could start tackling alone.

A report by Statistics Canada revealed a growing trend:

“The 2016 Census revealed that for the first time in recorded Canadian history, one-person households were the most common household type, overtaking households comprising couples with children. The number of persons living alone in Canada has more than doubled over the last 35 years, from 1.7 million in 1981 to 4.0 million in 2016. Solo dwellers represented 14% of the population aged 15 and over living in private households in 2016, up from 9% in 1981.”

And the latest StatCan data shows that the share of single-person households is at its highest:

 

 

Although some of the people living alone do so following a divorce or the death of their partner, most of the rise in the popularity of living alone can be attributed to shifts in preferences and societal norms. People — and especially young people — are changing their perspective on marriage and having a family, with some of them delaying this milestone to pursue education or career goals, and others foregoing it completely.

What’s more, the increase in financial independence is also opening up new opportunities for people of all generations, shifting their focus from a life dedicated to just one person or their family to a life shared with friends and their community.

 

Renter to Owner: What Does the New Homebuyer Want?

In the same way that applying for a mortgage alone is more difficult than with a partner, wanting a large(-ish) single-family home is a bigger dream than buying a condo. But again, the brave new Canadian renter might not shirk the challenge.

The Point2 survey revealed that an overwhelming eight out of 10 Canadian renters would like to buy a single-family home — and a fairly large one at that. To the youngest renters looking to become homeowners and to Baby Boomers over 65, even a farm or a piece of farm land seems more desirable than a condo.

 

 

 

And they want it now. Given that the survey was on the Point2 platform, it makes sense that many respondents are quite determined to buy, but the differences between generations are somewhat unexpected. It’s not the Millennials who are most ready to join the homeowners’ ranks. On the contrary, those who are most determined to buy within the next 12 months are Baby Boomers over 65 and the youngest renters, meaning the Gen Zers.

 

 

Ambitious Goals: Gen Z & Baby Boomers Are Most Determined, But Can They Do It?

They probably can. Analyzing their other responses, it looks like it’s not just about future plans. Indeed, 76% of renters over 65 and 72% of Gen Z renters stated that they would like to buy within the next year, but what matters more is how much money they managed to set aside to cover the down payment.

The national benchmark home price reached $719,400, which puts the national average down payment amount at $143,880. Of course, the home price and therefore the down payment varies greatly depending on the city where renters live and the type of home they want to buy.

But some respondents have some serious money already set aside.

 

 

Although 14% of Gen Z respondents haven’t managed to save anything yet, 74% of them saved up to $30,000 for the down payment. But the most surprising finding was that the youngest potential buyers had the third highest share of super-savers: An amazing 8% of them already had $100,000 set aside for their future down payment.

What’s more, many of them are saving quite substantially: 36% set aside up to 20% of their monthly income toward a down payment and again, when it comes to super-saving habits, young renters who want to become homeowners are only surpassed by Baby Boomers: 6% of Gen Z renters save more than half of their income — a percentage that’s only beat by the 9% of Baby Boomers who are doing the same.

 

 

With prices steadily rising and mortgage rates continuing to be prohibitive, the housing market is becoming more and more competitive by the day. However, Canadian renters don’t seem to want to give up. Many of them are determined to make their home ownership dream come true — even if they have to do it on their own.

 

 

Methodology

  • This study was based on a survey aimed at renters and homebuyers who visited or used the Point2 real estate platform.
  • The survey was posted on Point2Homes.com between March and June, 2024.
  • A total of 1,361 people participated, 890 of whom were renters. For this study, we only took into consideration the answers provided by renters.
  • The benchmark national home price per city was sourced from CREA.
  • The 20% down payment amount was calculated based on the latest national benchmark home price.
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