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More than half of young families given up on single-family home dream: poll

Just because young families are buying condos or townhomes, doesn’t mean they want to, survey reveals

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More than half of Metro Vancouver's young families who own real estate but do not own a single-family home have given up on the dream that they will ever have one, according to a survey report released Nov. 1.

The survey, by Mustel Group for Sotheby's International Realty Canada, examines the impact that the rising cost of homeownership has had on buyer aspirations among families in major metropolitan regions, with a focus on households with adults aged 25 to 40.

More than three-quarters (78 per cent) of Metro Vancouver's young families reported that they would like to own a single-family home if budget was no barrier, with just 22 per cent expressing a preference for an attached home or condo. However, only 46 per cent of young family homeowners said they actually bought a detached house, with 27 per cent buying a townhome, duplex or other attached unit, and 27 per cent a condo.

Of Metro Vancouver's homeowner respondents, 55 per cent of those who do not own a single-family home have given up any plans to do so, which Sotheby's reports is the highest "abandonment rate" of Canada's major metropolitan areas. Less than one third (31 per cent) of young family homeowners in the region still have plans to buy a detached house one day, with 16 per cent planning to buy one in a central location and 15 per cent aiming to purchase outside the main urban core.

Despite the compromises they have made, 90 per cent of young Metro Vancouver families expressed some level of satisfaction with their home purchase. However, a lower percentage of families (40 per cent) indicated that they were "very satisfied" with their purchase compared to counterparts in Calgary, Toronto and Montreal.

The current market softening doesn't seem to have dampened confidence in the Metro Vancouver real estate market. Some 79 per cent of local young families said they believe that financial gains on their home will outperform or be on par with financial investments over the next five years, and half (50 per cent) believe that real estate gains will exceed gains in financial investments.

Brad Henderson, President and CEO, Sotheby's International Realty Canada, said, "Our research dispels several urban myths about the housing preferences of this group. It suggests that the wave of demand for single-family home ownership will continue to rise in spite of mounting affordability challenges. Moreover, it highlights the fact that cities will continue to face significant pressure to overcome these challenges with solutions that go beyond the addition of higher density housing."

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