Friday, June 14, 2019

Most homebuyers won’t take financial risks says CMHC

A study of homeowner perceptions and risk attitudes has found that Canadians view homebuying as a long-term investment but are not willing to take financial risks in the process.

CMHC’s Homebuyers’ Motivations survey found that 75% of respondents in three major markets were not willing to take financial risks and this was consistent across Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver.

However, among young buyers (35yrs or less), 88% had some appetite for financial risk while older buyers were more risk averse.

The higher the income of respondents, the more willing they are to take financial risks; 31% those who were not willing to take risks earned less than $60,000, while only 11% of those who were not willing to take risks earned more than $200,000.

Price growth expectations

The survey also revealed a shift in price growth expectations in Vancouver (from 10% in 2017 to just 1% in 2018) while generally expectations matched the actual gains in the previous year. Montreal was the exception where respondents expected growth to be lower in 2018 than the actual changes in 2017.

"Since increases in housing prices cannot be explained by economic fundamentals alone, subjective factors like city attractiveness and perceived price growth must play a role,” said Marguerite Simo, senior specialist, housing research. “This report, and the survey it is based on, helps us shed light on homebuyers' perception of how subjective factors influence housing markets and will improve our understanding of housing markets in Canada."

The dominance of subjective factors was obvious in Vancouver, while respondents in Toronto perceived population growth to be influencing housing prices the most. The fact that subjective factors have a greater influence on house prices can lead to higher house price growth expectations, which makes homebuyers more willing to pay a higher price.

Bidding wars

The moderation in home prices meant a smaller share of homebuyers faced competition.

In 2018, the proportion of homebuyers who experienced a bidding war in Toronto dropped to 45% in 2018 from 55% in 2017. Homebuyers in all three centres involved in bidding wars spent 24% more than the median price.

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