The more things change, the more they stay the same. It’s an old adage but more often than not, it rings true.
For instance, I was raised hearing my parents talk about home ownership as one of life’s most important achievements. I can’t say I thought I would ever be of the same mindset; you see I did have experience with my life goals not always being in alignment with my parents’ views. But when I was twenty and thoughts of being on my own were actually possible, I did start to see the benefits, and did turn to homeownership.
My first realization was that a home could be my own personal safe haven and I did revel in that freedom. Over the next few years as an apprentice carpenter, I became interested in understanding how my home worked, or at times didn’t work. In short, my home became the testing ground for new materials and methods of construction. It gave me a solid understanding, so much so, that at a recent LEEP Retrofit seminar whose objective was to evaluate the energy efficiency of exterior building envelope assemblies, I’m proud to say that the wall I designed was chosen as one of four most worthy of further research.
Along the way, I also realized my home was a solid financial investment that would support me well in the years to come, which brought me right back to my parent’s view of homeownership as an important life achievement.
Proof that this thinking is not unique to my family, is validated in RBC’s annual Home Ownership Poll, where 2,000 Canadians of various ages, provided insight – specifically:
- homebuying intentions were marked as the highest levels since 2010;
- 32 per cent of Canadians advised they were likely to buy a home in the next two years, up seven percentage over last year; and
- Millennials (aged 18-34) expressed the strongest of those home buying intentions (50 percent).
The main influencing factors were reported as a resurgence in confidence in Canada’s economy and a lessening of anxiety about employment. This confidence was despite the Federal Government’s recent new “stress test”, to which 55% of those who were aware of the test, indicated their purchase decisions were impacted. Actions taken to qualify were either making higher down payments, delaying their home purchase, buying a less expensive home or a less expensive one in a different location or a growing number also indicated having to rely on their family for financial assistance with their downpayment.
The report also offered solid tips to overcoming the biggest challenges of finding the right property and understanding your financial capability, to which we would agree and expand on:
- access on-line mortgage calculators to determine your level of affordability and to do your own stress test by using the posted or higher interest rate; make sure you consider your future – car purchase, starting a family or a business etc.
- identify areas of the city that support your lifestyle - close to family, work or facilities most used; also identify adjacent areas as often driving a few minutes either way can make a big difference in home prices;
- determine the type of home and ownership - detached, townhouse or high-rise; standard freehold or condominium form of ownership;
- lastly, develop a list of needs and wants making sure you are honest about both – the number of bedrooms is likely a need, as would features or layout related to mobility restrictions or health; luxury finishes though would be more appropriately on the wants list. Systems or materials that boost energy efficiency warrant discussion. They might not be as visually appealing as hardwood floors for example, and they may be an extra expense in a home purchase, but they can reduce operating costs, leaving you the option of then directing more budget towards your mortgage or for those luxuries.
Once you have completed the above, you should be ready to start your search.
While houses change in size and form, and technology and the building code make significant impacts on homes, the drive to own your own personal paradise remains a wise one.
Peder Madsen is the president of the London Home Builders' Association and Vice President of CCR Building and Remodeling in London.