Today, Mortgage Professionals Canada (MPC) released its latest housing market report exploring if and how COVID-19 is affecting consumer sentiments towards housing and mortgages. The data suggests that consumers' attitudes on homeownership during the pandemic have changed very little since MPC first polled Canadians three months ago.
The third installment of Rapidly Evolving Expectations in the Housing Industry was written by MPC's Chief Economist Will Dunning. One thousand Canadians were surveyed between September 25 to October 8. Despite this survey occurring during a partial renewal of COVID-19-related economic shutdowns and an increase in positive COVID tests, Dunning notes that "there has not been a discernible negative impact on perceptions about current employment situations or in attitudes towards home ownership."
"With the third installment in this series of reports, we see consistent attitudes and results," said Paul Taylor, President and CEO of MPC. "Even as many regions enter a second wave of the pandemic, it is notable that consumer sentiment has not shifted significantly."
Dunning's analysis helps confirm that the pandemic has had powerful negative and positive effects for home buying. There is acknowledgement of Canadians who "have experienced deteriorations in their personal economic circumstances or are worried about their futures, which has affected their attitudes about the housing market and their ability or willingness to buy." However, Dunning also notes that, "for many Canadians, the pandemic has raised interest in making housing changes," including finding housing "that is more suitable in a work-at-home/spend-more-time-at-home world."
The Bank of Canada's announcement in August that interest rates would remain low for a long time, has "also made homeownership more accessible for first-time buyers and altered the calculations for potential move-up buyers," says Dunning. Additionally, "For people in reasonably stable economic situations who expect that stability to continue, there is currently heightened interest in home buying."
Consumers are more optimistic about the future of home ownership. In each of MPC's 2020 surveys to date, the percentage of non-owners who expect to buy a home in the coming year has increased, and is sharply higher, from seven per cent just prior to the pandemic to 19 per cent in this most recent report. Conversely, there has been a significant drop in the number of individuals who expected to never be able to purchase a home: 32 per cent of consumers at year-end 2019 to just 16 per cent now. The report discusses that not all of the people who expect to buy a home will be able to.
In this third report, homeowners remain overwhelmingly happy with the decision they made to purchase their home – 90 per cent. A very small minority – two to three per cent – indicated regret in their home buying decision. Seven to eight per cent of home owners wish that they had purchased a different property. These figures are very similar to those found in the first and second reports.
When it comes to perceived expected difficulty in making mortgage payments, 23 per cent of those surveyed expect "some difficulty" making their payments as a result of COVID-19, and four per cent expect "a lot of difficulty". These figures are also little changed from MPC's two previous COVID-19 consumer sentiment reports.
Taylor did comment on the uncertainty regarding the future impact of the ending of mortgage deferrals. "With the mortgage deferral programs expiring for many in September, there are likely some homeowners who are currently determining whether they are able to continue to manage their mortgage debt obligation or be forced to sell. We expect to begin to see the impacts of this on the market and in consumers' sentiments in our next report."
Source: Mortgage Professionals Canada