The internet is hot with takes on home ownership. Is having your own place a thing of the past? Is it simply out of reach no matter how hard you work? When it comes down to the stats, though, it seems prospective buyers are less split on whether they want to own than they are on whether they can afford it.
A survey conducted by Royal LePage found that 87 per cent of Canadians aged 25 to 30 believe home ownership is a good investment. While 69 per cent hope to own a home in the next five years, only 57 per cent believe they will be able to afford one.
Canadian cities’ housing markets are just as polarizing, with some cities becoming near-impossible to even imagine buying property in unless you’re anything less than upper-class. But first-time buyers in Edmonton are in luck. This is one city where the benefits to buying far outweigh the perceived security of staying in a rental.
Edmonton is one of the rare Canadian cities boasting a stable and affordable real estate market. While first-time Vancouver and Toronto buyers are being priced out of the city, the median price for a single-family home in Edmonton is an affordable $388,000. In contrast, Calgary’s home prices are expected to increase by 2.3 per cent.
This news becomes more encouraging when keeping in mind that Canadians only have to provide a down payment of 5 per cent for homes listed for less than $500,000. This means Edmonton is one of the few Canadian cities where starter homes are still exactly that: a property affordable for young professionals to buy after a minimal time spent saving.
And while prospective buyers are trending towards wanting smaller spaces instead of sprawling homes, Edmonton’s market offers a bevy of affordable smaller options. Some duplexes and townhouses in Brookfield’s The Orchards, Paisley and Chappelle Gardens communities offer monthly mortgage payments on-par with or even cheaper than Edmonton’s average monthly rental fees (all without the stress of strata fees). Those who invest in Brookfield properties also benefit from a biweekly payment option.
This allows a low-barrier first step to home ownership. First-time buyers can invest in a starter home earlier in their careers without feeling the need to make a huge leap into a huge home — or a huge mortgage — right off the bat. From there, they can choose to move into a larger space that will fill their needs later or settle on a smaller space that works for them now, all while building credit and equity that they wouldn’t be earning while renting. If they choose a fixed-rate mortgage, they can also avoid the financial (and emotional) stress of weathering a landlord’s rent fluctuations.
The affordability of owning property in Edmonton also means that first-time buyers can afford to spring for add-ons that go beyond the bare bones of a home, whether that’s upgrading appliances for top-of-the-line models or installing homey touches like a fireplace. Plus, as one of the oft-repeated benefits to owning, buyers no longer have to consult condo codes or a finicky building manager to have their place exactly how they like it.
This independence also comes with the understated luxury of being able to customize the home’s security features, from installing smart phone-enabled locks to security cameras. Even benefits like private, attached garages in Brookfield Residential’s townhouses beat sharing a questionably secure apartment parkade with 50 other neighbours.
When considering all the perks of home ownership — from the peace-of-mind that comes with no longer having to rent to the current low-barrier housing market — it’s fair to acknowledge that signing a mortgage is still a big step for a young professional to make. But in a city like Edmonton, it’s a step worth taking.