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Home ownership rates slipping but condos are still booming: census

Tricar Group's 29-storey luxury condo tower at Dufferin Avenue and Talbot Street under construction on June 14, 2017 (Matthew Trevithick/AM980).

The proportion of Canadians who own their own homes has fallen slightly between 2006 and 2016, according to information collected by Statistics Canada in the most recent census.

In 2016, 67.8 per cent of Canadian households reported owning their own homes. This is a little less than in 2011, when 69 per cent of households said they were homeowners, and in 2006 when 68.4 per cent of households said they were.

“What we have in the last three census periods is sort of a relatively stable home ownership rate at a high level,” said Andrew Heisz, assistant director of Statistics Canada’s income statistics division.

He contrasts this with the period from 1991 to 2006, when home ownership rates rose from 62.6 per cent of households to 68.4 per cent.

The shift is related to a variety of factors, according to Statistics Canada.

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Baby boomers drove the growth in home ownership rates before 2006, said Heisz. And now that they own homes, they aren’t leaving them, according to census data. Seniors are more likely to own their homes now than they were a decade earlier.

This isn’t the case for the younger generation. Thirty-year-old millennials are less likely to own their homes than boomers were at age 30. About half of 30-year-old millennials who lived in their own home were owners, compared to 55.5 per cent of boomers when they were 30.

“It’s going to be interesting to see what happens next,” said Heisz. “Baby boomers are just entering or have just entered their retirement years, so the question is, how much longer are they going to own their homes?”

Canadians are also more likely to live in cities than they used to be, which is likely affecting home ownership rates. Nearly 78 per cent of households outside census metropolitan areas owned their homes – about 10 per cent higher than the Canadian average.

“It stands to reason that if more people are living in urban areas it could put some downward pressure on the home ownership rate,” said Heisz, though Statistics Canada didn’t look at this specifically and can’t say what kind of impact this may have had.

Home ownership is high in some cities though – Calgary for example has a home ownership rate of 73 per cent, well above the national average. It’s also Canada’s fastest-growing metropolitan area.

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Condo boom

Home ownership rates slipping but condos are still booming: census - image
Statistics Canada

More Canadians than ever are living in condos and builders keep building them. One third of new homes built in Canada between 2011 and 2016 were condos.

About 13 per cent of Canadian households currently live in a condo, up about 1.2 percentage points since 2011.

“Condominiums have become a more important mode of living or type of living arrangement for people,” said Heisz.

A little over two-thirds of condo dwellers own their unit. This is a big change from the last census, when 71 per cent of condo dwellers were also the owners – meaning many more people are renting condos than five years ago.

“It suggests that there is a change in the condo market,” said Heisz.

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Millennials are also more likely to live in a condo than people 30 years older. Around one in five people in their twenties lives in a condo, compared to one in ten people in their fifties. The percentage of condo-dwellers falls in middle age, then rises again in retirement age after 65.

More than 30 per cent of households in Vancouver live in a condominium. In Toronto, it’s about 21 per cent.

Unaffordable shelter

Just under one quarter of Canadian households have shelter costs considered to be unaffordable. This rate has hardly changed in ten years, decreasing just 0.3 per cent.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation considers shelter costs to be unaffordable if a household spends 30 per cent or more of its total household income on mortgage or rent, hydro, heat, water and other municipal services, property taxes and condo fees.

Around one third of households in Toronto and Vancouver can’t afford their shelter, according to these criteria.

Nearly 40 per cent of renters have unaffordable shelter costs, compared to just 16.5 per cent of home owners.

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