BMO Financial Group

BMO Financial Group
BMO Bank of Montreal

BMO Bank of Montreal

April 15, 2014 06:00 ET

BMO 2014 Housing Confidence Report: Optimism Varies Across Canada Over the Next Five Years

- Buying Intentions: Intent to buy surges in Montreal; softens in the GTA

- Price expectations: Homeowners' expectations of price gains reasonable as appreciation begins to slow

- Mortgage affordability: Number of mortgage holders dipping into savings to afford payments continues to decrease

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - April 15, 2014) - According to the 2014 BMO Housing Confidence Report released today, 44 per cent of homeowners intend to buy a property in the next five years. This represents a slight drop from 2013, but still signals a high level of confidence in Canada's housing market - particularly among those under 30 years of age.

However, results vary widely in Canada's major city centres:

  • Intent to buy has surged in Montreal, with 63 per cent planning to purchase a property in the next 5 years - up 13 points from last year
  • Half of those in the Greater Toronto Area (51 per cent) plan to buy in the next 5 years, a decline of 8 points from 2013
  • Further west, intent to buy in Calgary is up 5 points to 54 per cent, while Vancouver is down 4 points to 54 per cent
  • After seeing an increase of 15 points last year, Atlantic Canada dropped notably; intent decreased by 18 points to 29 per cent.

"The dip in overall intent could reflect expectations of higher interest rates, while the drop in the GTA likely reflects concerns about valuations and a possible price correction," said Sal Guatieri, Senior Economist, BMO Capital Markets. "The improvement in buyer confidence in Montreal should help to absorb a moderate overhang of condos in that market."

After seeing an improvement in affordability between Fall 2012 and Spring of last year, this measure has flattened in 2014, with 45 per cent of homeowners cutting back or dipping into their savings to pay their mortgage.

"Seeing consistency in terms of affordability year over year is encouraging, however, interest rates are likely to begin moving up in the near future, resulting in households potentially facing some strain down the road," said Sameh Elrefaei, Head of Mortgage Products, BMO Bank of Montreal. "It's important that Canadians make responsible choices when financing their home, and part of that is stress testing against a higher rate to ensure affordability remains stable."

Mr. Elrefaei added that for Canadians looking to buy a home - particularly first-time buyers - choosing a fixed rate mortgage and a lower amortization period can help to increase financial stability.

The report, conducted by Pollara, tracks confidence in Canada's housing market among Canadian homeowners by measuring intentions to buy or sell, price expectations and overall mortgage affordability.

Homeownership Intentions: Young Canadians Most Likely to Buy; Investment Properties More Attractive in 2014

  • Overall, intent to buy a property is highest among younger Canadians. Three-quarters (75 per cent) of those between the ages of 18 and 29 plan to buy in the next five years, along with 67 per cent of homeowners aged 30 to 39.
  • While more than half (54 per cent) of those considering a property purchase in the next five years are looking at houses, this is down 8 points from 2013. Subsequently, the intention to buy a condo is up 5 points to 22 per cent.
  • As with 2013, 10 per cent of those planning to buy are looking at recreational properties. Meanwhile 9 per cent plan to purchase an investment property, up three points from a year ago.

Price Sensitivity and Expectations: Homeowners Expect Modest Increases in Property Value

  • Nationally, a 15 per cent rise in prices would dampen plans to buy in the next 5 years by 8 points (44 per cent to 36 per cent), showing that property values would have to rise sharply for long term buying intent to cool significantly
  • On average, home owners expect property values to grow by 2.3 per cent in the next year, and 13.2 per cent over the next 10 years.
12 Month Price Expectations (Per Cent) National BC AB MB/
ON QC ATL Mont GTA Cal Van
Spring 2014 +2.3 +1.8 +3.0 +3.0 +2.9 +1.3 +2.4 +0.3 +3.1 +3.5 +1.6
Spring 2013 +2.2 +1.2 +1.9 +3.0 +2.4 +2.2 +2.5 +2.5 +2.4 +2.1 +1.5

Percentage of Mortgage Holders Dipping into Savings Decreases in 2014

  • The number of those dipping into their savings to afford their mortgage payments in the past year has decreased by 3 points to 12 per cent. Furthermore, this measure has decreased by 5 points since 2012.
  • Additionally, the total percentage of mortgage holders needing to cut spending to make their payments has stayed flat year over year.
  • However, mortgage holders who have needed to cut appear to be doing so in the appropriate places, with a 4-point increase in those decreasing their spend on vacations.

The BMO Housing Confidence Report was conducted by Pollara. Survey results cited in this report are from online interviews with a random sample of 1,006 Canadian homeowners, 18 years of age and over, conducted between March 17 to March 22, 2014. A probability sample of this size would yield results accurate to ± 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20. Data has been weighted by region, based on the most recent Census figures, so that it is representative of Canadian homeowners.

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly diversified financial services organization based in North America. The bank offers a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and services to more than 12 million customers. BMO Financial Group had total assets of $593 billion and more than 45,500 employees at January 31, 2014.

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