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Like home buyers, study suggests renters also looking out of market for an alternative

A poll of over 2,200 people in Canada discovered a number of renters are considering moving away from a place they enjoy to find affordability in a place to live. CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

A recent survey from a Canadian polling company is suggesting renting a home is just as “tough” as purchasing one.

The study, from Abacus Data, found that 82 per cent of renters across Canada feel their prospects have become less affordable in the area they live and they’re looking out of market for an alternative.

“What we learned is renters have been hit with higher rental prices and limited supply of stable areas,” Abacus Data consultant Megan Ross told 900 CHML’s Good Morning Hamilton.

“These circumstances have led some to stay in an unfavourable living situation and some to move out of areas that they’ve enjoyed living in to find to cheaper rent.”

Read more: Average sale price of Hamilton home up 30 per cent year-over-year: RAHB

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Polling of about 2,200 Canadian adults in October found that a third (35 per cent) fall under the category of “renters” with 44 per cent of those living alone and 30 per cent living with a partner.

About 77 per cent of those who live with a roommate say they are doing so because they cannot afford to live on their own, and almost half (45 per cent) are living with family for the same reason.

Of renters living alone, 63 per cent at the time of the survey were considering living with someone else to help make life more affordable.

The latest Bullpen Research on listings shows prices for Hamilton’s rentals continued to rise between September and October, with a single dwelling checking in at $1,552 and a two-bedroom at $1,822 per month.

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The largest increase was with the single units which went up 5.8 per cent month to month and 4.8 per cent year over year.

A January CHMC rental market report revealed the average rent increase for Hamilton units in 2019 and 2020 was about 5.4 per cent, while the provincial average was 2.2 per cent.

The city’s vacancy rate was 3.5 per cent in 2020, down slightly from 3.9 per cent in 2019.

The supply of units renting for less than $1,000 shrank in 2020 as strong rent growth pushed some apartments into higher rent categories.

Lack of supply was also a gripe in the Abacas study with six in 10 feeling there aren’t enough rentals available where they want to live. About 32 per cent say they made the decision to leave the community “they enjoy” to find a place they can afford to rent.

Read more: Canadian economy adds 31K jobs in October bringing unemployment to pandemic-era low

The pattern is similar to one observed by a recent Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) poll that showed nearly half of Ontario residents under the age of 45 were looking to move out of province in order to afford a home.

“The phenomenon that existed before COVID was ‘drive till you qualify,’ OREA president Tim Hudak told Global News in July.

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“So people would, you know, live outside of Hamilton, Toronto or major centres and get a tolerable commute distance so they could own a property.”

The Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington’s (RAHB) latest monthly report for October revealed the average price for a residential property in Hamilton is up 30 per cent year over year to just over $864,000.

RAHB president Donna Bacher told Global News that a shortage of inventory and the fact that buyers represent 50 per cent of the market were contributing factors to such a steep increase.

But with a “bleak” rental market, Ross says there’s a significant number considering entry into home ownership.

“There is still hope for the transition from renting to owning” Ross said.

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“Many renters are still interested in owning a home some day and would be open to government support to help make it happen.”

Close to half of those polled (45 per cent) want to own a home someday, while the other half are split between those who believe owning a home isn’t that important and those happy to rent the rest of their life.

“They’re nervous,” said Ross

“We found that three in four who really want to own a home some day are concerned. If they continue to stay in the rental market for much longer, housing prices will continue to rise and owning a home will become even more out of reach.”

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