Wait and Save: We Still Believe in Homeownership

Do you dream of owning a home someday? If so, you’re not alone. The desire to put down roots and invest in a home is a common one.

And this dream is still strong across North America. The problem is, many can’t afford it.

To many, the dream seems elusive as a result of the significant cost not just of purchasing a home but also in carrying it. Many who would like to and can pursue the dream never will due to fears associated with the lack of affordability (“Will I be in over my head?” “Will I lose money?”).

Affordability is a concern

According to the RBC 2017 Home Ownership Poll, 80% of Canadians believe homeownership is a good investment.

However, only 25% plan to purchase a home this year. Why the discrepancy? Considering the average Canadian home price has climbed over the $500,000 mark, it’s understandable why many won’t find home-buying affordable just yet. And “yet” is the key word. For many, their plans to own a home someday have not changed. They’re simply delayed. For example, nearly 40% of Canadian millennials plan to buy a home in the next two years.

As some Canadians put their home-buying plans on hold, they cite three main reasons for the delay. More than half of those participating in the RBC poll believe that housing prices may come down. Others are uncertain about the state of the economy and also express concern that carrying costs continue to increase.

How are they dealing with it? As RBC vice president Nicole Wells suggests: “For many Canadians, buying a home is a financial and personal milestone – often the biggest investment one will make.

“In today’s market, the best advice is to start with understanding exactly how much you can afford, and focus on your wants and needs ahead of starting the house hunt. … Knowledge and education are key.”

Family Living in the Sky: North America’s Newest Reality

As land available for new construction shrinks in urban centers across North America, governments, builders, and families are looking upward. Living high in the sky isn’t how many young families would have envisioned the family home, but for many, it’s a reality.

This new reality is playing out in Toronto, Ontario, where family-sized condo units are rare. Some 80% of new housing built in the past decade are buildings of five or more stories. Yet fewer than 10% of high-rise homes in the city have three or more bedrooms. And this is presenting a problem for young families who want to live and work there.

According to a recent story inĀ Citylab.com, Toronto is on its way. Guidelines generated in a 2015 study by the city’s Planning Division were adopted this summer by its City Council and will be used in evaluating current and future projects. The guidelines, points out CityLab contributing writer Mimi Kirk, “are not only applicable to Toronto, but to cities across North America and beyond …”

Among the recommendations: 15% of units should include two bedrooms and 10% should include three, with these larger units located on lower levels, close to each other, and adjoining outdoor spaces.

Meanwhile, in New York City, where raising kids in high-rises is nothing new (but not particularly family-friendly), some existing buildings are currently updating and repurposing their amenities, thanks to the growing number of New Yorkers choosing to raise their families in the city.

Maybe life in the sky isn’t such a hardship after all.