The findings of a new survey suggest a rising number of first-time homebuyers in Canada are looking to take up residence in suburban areas and smaller communities, reversing the inward trends into major cities prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pollara Strategic Insights’ survey, conducted for BMO, shows nearly half of respondents across the country are planning to buy their first property outside of city centres.
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The regions that are highest for prospective first-time buyers in the suburbs are British Columbia and Ontario, with 53% of respondents in each province indicating this preference. Affordability is a driving factor (44%), followed by the ability to have a larger living space (41%) than what might be possible in a more urban area.
Moreover, about a third (35%) of first-time buyers are considering smaller cities and towns, with affordability and space (47%) as key factors.
Less than a third (30%) of these buyers showed primary interest in properties within a major city centre, with Toronto at 27%, Vancouver at 15%, and Montreal and Calgary each at 11%. Half of the respondents (49%) cited not wanting to leave the area where they currently work and live as the main factors.
As for the type of property these prospective buyers are interested in, 61% are looking for detached homes, followed by 32% for townhomes, 28% for a semi-detached house, and 27% for a condominium.
“With remote work expected to continue over the long-term, first-time homebuyers have the flexibility to look for a home that isn’t necessarily next door to where they work,” said Hassan Pirnia, head of personal lending and home financing with BMO, in a statement.
“Between this added work flexibility and price appreciation in some major cities, the expectation is that we will continue to see a push into the suburbs.”