First National Financial LP

Market Memo: Stress and the young home buyer

  • First National Financial LP

Purchasing a home, especially a first home, is a stressful time.  And that is particularly true for young buyers. 

Looking for love in the property listings

The anxiety can start long before the purchase though.  The latest sampling in the international Beyond the Bricks Survey suggests many Canadian millennials are putting shared property and financial goals ahead of looks when it comes to considering a potential partner. 

Nearly 40% of Canadian millennials say shared financial goals are more important than looks.  Thirty-three percent say shared property goals are more important.

While it might seem refreshing that the younger generation is getting past something as superficial as appearance, there is a downside.  Sixteen percent of Canadian millennials say they would remain in a bad relationship due to property.  That is well above the national average of just 6%.

Pre-purchase angst

More than 60% of young buyers feel anxious about purchasing property.  Almost 15% say the biggest source of that stress is accepting money from parents.  By comparison, only about 20% of baby boomers find themselves stressed-out by the home buying process.

Regardless of age, though, it is the extras and add-ons that create the most stress for home buyers.  Overall, 25% of buyers say applications, land surveys, fees, taxes and contracts left them feeling tense.  Millennials took a slightly bigger hit, with 33% feeling anxious.

To be fair, it is harder for millennials to get on the housing ladder.  Prices are far higher but wage growth has not kept pace.  Numbers produced by the non-profit housing advocacy group Generation Squeeze show it takes millennials 13 years to save a 20% down payment.  A generation earlier it took just five years.

Post-purchase angst

Even after they are in the market younger buyers still find themselves anxious about money.  Nearly 63% say financial considerations drove their last house move.  Just over 25% say they moved in order to get more house for their money, a little more than 23% say they moved to find a lower cost of living. 

Canadian millennials handle the financial demands of home ownership differently than their global peers.  While both groups cut back on major purchases and luxuries, 30% of Canadians say they curtail day-to-day spending, compared to just 11% internationally.  Outside of Canada millennials are more likely to delay having children, 35% versus 6% here.

Youthful obsession

The Beyond the Bricks Survey reveals that millennials may be fuelling some of their own anxiety about their home and finances.  About a quarter of them admit to checking the value of their property at least once a month.  (Overall only about 8% of Canadians admit to being that obsessed.)

Based on the fact that most Canadians have lived in their homes for 13 years, the survey points out that property prices rarely fall on a decade-over-decade basis so frequent checking is not necessary.

Canadians spend about 2.08 hours a week reading about, searching for or viewing properties.  That is the second lowest in the 10 countries surveyed.  Americans spend about five hours a week.  People in the United Arab Emirates average nearly seven hours a week.