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New research shows Ontario’s affordable homeownership crisis worsened by COVID-19 pandemic as buyers look for more space, bigger homes, but detached owners show reluctance to list.

OREA conducted an online survey with 1,421 Ontario residents aged 18+ between March 1 and March 6, 2021, through the Ipsos I-Say panel and compared it against the previous years’ survey conducted pre-pandemic, between January 27th and February 6th, 2020 with a sample of 1,420 Ontario residents.

Key Findings: Buyers and Sellers

  • Home buyers say they want more space with 63% interested in purchasing a detached home (63%), +3 points from last year, and more than a quarter of home buyers (28%) saying they plan to buy a home larger than 2,500 sq-ft (+8). 
  • Among upgraders, who typically have established equity and a larger budget, 75% (+9) say they are looking for a detached home. 
  • By contrast, those who say they plan to sell has decreased one point to 18%, and only 62% of sellers plan to sell a detached home (-4).
  • When asked about the pandemic’s impact, most buyers (68%) said the pandemic did not change where they plan to buy; indicating a more marginal shift in preferences as a result of the pandemic, as opposed to a revolution. 
  • Among those planning to buy, 37% (+1) still anticipate purchasing in a suburban area, with 24% looking in small cities and towns, and 19% (+3) looking in rural areas. 
  • Fewer buyers (one-in-five) say they intend to settle in urban/downtown areas, -4 points from last year. 
  • Of those looking at downtown homes, 15% of buyers said they have lost their appeal due to COVID; among Millennials, 2 in 10 say urban areas have lost their appeal. About the same number of homeowners (25%, +1) plan to sell a downtown property.


Key Findings: Use of a REALTOR®

  • 88% (+4) of sellers and 89% (+3) of buyers say they plan to use a REALTOR® to help them navigate today’s complex and fast-moving market – expert help when buying or selling property is becoming increasingly important. 
  • Use of a REALTOR® is even more prevalent among upgraders (95%), who likely know the value a REALTOR® brings, thanks to their previous experience working with one. 
  • Top reasons upgraders cite for using a REALTOR® include helping with paperwork (48%), saving them time (44%), helping navigate the process (38%), and because it simply gives them peace of mind (37%).

Source: OREA’s 2021 Home Buyers and Sellers Report

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