Homeownership Rate Drops Among Young Canadians

2016 Census data reveals more young people are renting, compared with their parents at same age
Joannah Connolly
October 25, 2017

Compared with their baby-boomer parents, millennials are slower to get into the housing market, according to new 2016 Census data released October 25 by Statistics Canada.

The federal statistics agency said that, at the age of 30, among millennials who no longer lived with their parents, just over half (50.2%) were homeowners in 2016, compared with 55.5% of boomers in 1981.

Ryan Berlin, senior economist at Vancouver real estate marketing firm Rennie Group, said in response to the data, "Rising prices aside, the decline in younger ownership rates may be due to the ever-increasing pursuit of more education, leading an increasing share of late-20-somethings to stay at home longer or rent in lieu of purchasing."

The 2016 Census also found that the types of homes young adults are living in have changed over those 35 years. In 1981, 44.4% of baby boomers lived in a single-family home compared with 35% of millennials in 2016 – young adults are now much more likely to live in apartments.

Statistics Canada said in its report, “This is one example of how the housing landscape has changed across generations because of housing trends such as urbanization and increased apartment building construction.”

Among the population as a whole, homeownership rates have held fairly steady, despite rising Canadian home prices. The Census found that more than 9.5 million, 67.8%, of the 14.1 million households in Canada owned their home in 2016. The previous Census in 2011 cited the national homeownership rate as slightly higher at 69.0%; in 2006 it was 68.4%, and back in 1991 it was lower, at 62.6%.

Statistics Canada said, “The sustained growth in homeownership prior to 2006 was related, in large part, to baby boomers entering homeownership. By 2016, most baby boomers were already homeowners and no longer driving an increase. Future trends will be affected by how long baby boomers remain homeowners and whether younger generations own or rent a home.”

The agency also examined homeownership rates by province, and found that it had slipped slightly between 2006 and 2016 in both Ontario and British Columbia. Ontario’s rate fell from 71% to 69.7% over those 10 years; in BC, the drop was from 69.7% in 2006 to 68% in 2016.

Census 2016

Even though homeownership rates have also fallen in Newfoundland and Labrador, it posted the country’s highest 2016 rate at 76.7%. The only two provinces or territories to increase homeownership rates between 2006 and 2016 were Saskatchewan and Northwest Territories. By far the country’s lowest level of homeownership was seen in Nunavut, at just 20% in 2016.

The homeownership rate in the Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) was reported as 63.7% in 2016, down from the 65.5% of 2011. Victoria CMA was lower still in 2016, at 62.6%, down from 65.1% in 2011. In Toronto CMA, the latest figure is 66.5%, down from 68.3% in the 2011 Census.

Looking at shelter costs and affordability, StatsCan found that among CMAs in 2016, Toronto (33.4%) and Vancouver (32%) had the highest proportion of households whose shelter costs were considered not affordable – that is, spending 30% or more of total income on shelter costs. However, affordability was deemed to have improved nationwide over the decade, with the proportion of Canadian households with shelter costs considered not affordable at 24.1% in 2016, compared with 24.4% in 2006.

Berlin added, "All across Canada it is renters who are spending a greater share of their income on shelter costs, on average, than are owners; in Greater Vancouver, renters spend almost 24% of their pre-tax income on housing-related costs, while owners spend just under 17%."

The 2016 Census also found that condo living is – perhaps unsurprisingly – on the rise. In 2016, 13.3%, or almost 1.9 million of Canadian households, were living in condos, up from 12.1% in 2011. Of these households, 67.1% were owners, while 32.9% were renters.

Breaking this down by CMA, in 2016, Vancouver (30.6%) had the highest proportion of households living in condos, far higher than second-placed Calgary’s 21.8%. Toronto’s condo-living rate in 2016 was 20.9% – in fifth place nationally, after Abbotsford-Mission (21.5%) and Kelowna (21.3%).

Joannah Connolly
Joannah Connolly is editorial director of Glacier Real Estate, Glacier Media's real estate division. Joannah writes and curates real estate news for Glacier Media's local newspaper websites, including the Vancouver Courier, North Shore News, Burnaby Now, Tri-City News and others. She also oversees editorial content in Real Estate Weekly Homes, West Coast Condo, Western Investor and Glacier's special real estate publications. A dual Canadian-British citizen, Joannah has 22 years of journalism and editing experience in Vancouver and London, with a background in construction, architecture, healthcare and business media. Joannah has appeared on major local TV outlets as a real estate commentator, has moderated and spoken on various industry panels, and spent two years hosting the Real Estate Therapist radio show on Roundhouse Radio.