Residents of British Columbia are currently more interested in purchasing a home in the suburbs and exurbs, according to a new survey by RBC on changing home preferences due to COVID-19.
In fact, over half of residents are interested in the suburbs (30%) and rural areas (22%) combined compared to just a quarter (25%) for major city centres.
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Nearly six-in-10 residents (59%) said they would likely have to move out of the city they are living in if they wanted to buy or own a larger home.
If they were to realistically purchase a new home right now, 35% would buy a detached home, 30% would buy a condominium home, 15% would buy a townhouse, and 4% would buy a semi-detached home.
Amongst all provinces and regions, BC residents are by far the least likely to want to buy a detached home, one-and-a-half times more likely to purchase a new condominium home compared to the next highest province (Ontario), and more likely to be interested in buying a home in a major metropolitan area.
Of course, these preferences likely have to do with housing affordability issues in BC. Compared to detached homes, condominiums are the more affordable ownership option, and most of the condominium supply is found in major urban centres.
Almost eight-in-10 BC residents (78%) said house prices are unaffordable, and the average price that can be afforded for a new home amongst respondents is $654,795 — more than twice the average in the Prairies, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada, about $260,000 more than Alberta, and about $94,000 more than Ontario. The nationwide average is $445,237.
BC residents are also more likely to say home values in their community will only go up in the future, and 43% are concerned about interest rates in the coming year.
Currently, half (50%) of respondents in the province say they are in a worse financial position than prior to the pandemic and 48% state the pandemic has made it harder to save money, but the vast majority (82%) are able to pay their bills.
“High home values continue to drive many Canadians further outside of major city centres, both in search of affordability and more space,” said Amit Sahasrabudhe, vice-president of home equity financing, products and acquisitions for RBC, in a statement.
“Many Canadians continue to be financially resilient in the face of the pandemic, and this has carried over into the real estate market. Seen as a pillar of stability, Canadians continue to view homeownership as a worthwhile pursuit and are willing to shift their priorities in order to find affordable property within their budget.”