It’s more challenging to become a homeowner in 2019 than it was for previous generations, but here’s some encouraging news: Millennials still can and do buy homes. On the heels of a recent RBC Economic Research report that shows ownership rates among young Canadians are actually higher when compared to other countries, our own REW numbers indicate some interesting trends on what millennials want in a property when they’re able to get into the market and buy a home.
In February 2019, REW polled 300 people who have purchased a home in the Toronto area in the past three years, including those in the “older Millennial” age demographic of 25 to 34. We asked a number of questions around location, size, features and more, all with an eye to understanding what really drives Millennial homebuyers.
“While we know that young people still struggle with affordability issues, especially in major cities like Toronto, the results are encouraging,” says Ian Martin, Director of Industry Relations for REW. “They tell us some millennials are still finding ways to get into the property market.”
The Single Millennial Majority
One surprising stat jumped out right away: The majority of millennial homebuyers surveyed in Toronto bought their property while single. With smaller one-bedroom condos widely available, it seems like there’s a large group of people who aren’t waiting for a partner to buy a home. It’s an exciting trend to see. Younger, single buyers traditionally face some of the largest challenges getting into the market, but the data shows there’s a sizeable group who aren’t afraid to buy a home independently.
When it comes to what these single homeowners were motivated by, two things stood out: Outdoor space and view. This could suggest they would be purchasing in mid-to-high rise buildings, where the view increases the higher up you go. But the desire for outdoor space may mean that millennial homebuyers covet something that’s always at a premium in the densely populated GTA.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, a consistent number one priority across the board for millennials was air conditioning. Toronto summers? They get hot. Some might say uncomfortably hot, as outdoor humidity can climb nearly two or three times higher than the recommended humidity levels. This may be leading millennial buyers to newer condos or homes with air conditioning already installed, and away from older, AC-less properties. If you’re looking to sell a property and don’t have air conditioning currently, you might want to consider the investment before getting your home on the market.
Couples Need Breathing Room
When it comes to married or partnered millennials, the overall size of the property was consistently among the most important considerations in their purchase. It makes sense: Young couples want the room to grow into their starter homes. Whether they’re looking to start a family or just wanting space for everyone to stretch out and do their own thing, two-bedroom or one-bedroom and den condos always make attractive starter home options.
Women Don’t Want to Commute?
Another interesting trend from the data is the issue of commuting to work. According to our poll, women buying properties are looking to cut down on their commute time and live closer to major job centres, while millennial men were far more willing to commute longer distances to work than their female counterparts. The data also points to a trend that indicates younger women prefer to live close to where they work than older women, who were less concerned with a commute.
About the Survey
Of those surveyed, 35 percent were in the age bracket of 25 years to 34 years old; 35 percent were aged between 35 and 54, and the remainder were older than 54. Some 36 percent reported a household income of between $80,000 and $160,000. And nearly all the respondents had post-secondary education, with 93 percent reporting that they attended either university or college. The survey was conducted between December and February of this year.
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