Insufficient income keeps aspiring homeowners in Canada on the sidelines

Phil Soper, president and chief executive officer, Royal LePage (Credit: Korby Banner)

Most Canadian renters can’t afford to buy a home, according to a recent Royal LePage survey, conducted by Hill & Knowlton.

The renters report showed that 27 per cent of Canadians who currently rent their home say they plan to purchase a property in the next two years. Among those aged 18 to 34, that figure jumps to 40 per cent. Meanwhile, 69 per cent of renters say they do not plan to buy a home in the near future. Among them, more than half (54%) do not feel their income will be sufficient to afford a property in the area where they wish to live (61% among respondents aged 18 to 34).

“The rental sector is not immune to the significant affordability challenges stemming from Canada’s acute housing shortage. High mortgage rates have made it difficult for many to purchase a home, forcing some to move into, or remain longer than planned, in the rental market,” said Phil Soper, president and chief executive officer, Royal LePage.

Of renters who say they plan to buy within the next two years, half (50%) say they will have a down payment of less than 20 per cent. Twenty-six per cent say they will put 20 per cent down, while 15 per cent say they will have a down payment of more than 20 per cent. In Canada, mortgage insurance is required for homes purchased with less than 20 per cent down.

Before signing or renewing their current lease, 29 per cent of Canadian renters say they considered purchasing a property. Among them, 41 per cent say the lack of a sufficient down payment led to their decision to rent instead.

“While a third of Canadian adults are currently renting, and there are families who are perfectly content doing so, the desire for home ownership remains strong among a large portion of this segment of the population. Our latest research reveals that a material number of renters wish to transition to home ownership. Understandably, the greatest barrier to entry is the ability to drum up the initial capital for a down payment,” continued Soper.

When asked about the motivating factors behind their decision to continue renting rather than buy, approximately one third of respondents said they were waiting for interest rates (33%) and property prices (30%) to decrease. Twenty-two per cent said they are continuing to rent while saving for a down payment, and 20 per cent said they did not qualify for a mortgage. Respondents were able to select more than one answer.

“Earlier this month, the Bank of Canada announced its first rate cut in more than four years. Falling borrowing costs will lower the threshold to qualify for a mortgage, helping renters become owners. However, this creates a double-edged sword. Increased competition as they enter the market will put additional pressure on property values. While some will wait for home prices to become more reasonable, Canada’s housing shortage will leave them waiting indefinitely,” added Soper.

Hill & Knowlton used the Leger Opinion online panel to survey 1,506 Canadians, aged 18+, who rent their primary residence. The survey was completed between June 7th and June 10th, 2024. Serving Canadians since 1913, Royal LePage is the country’s leading provider of services to real estate brokerages, with a network of approximately 20,000 real estate professionals in over 670 locations nationwide.