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.
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.”