Economic uncertainties are prompting more home buyers to hold off on their home purchase.Photo: karamysh / Adobe Stock

Higher home prices, rising interest rates and economic uncertainties are prompting more homebuyers to hold off on jumping into the market now than during the most uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Results from a new Scotiabank Housing Poll show that twice as many Canadians are pumping the breaks on their home buying plans compared to the first year of the pandemic. Forty-three per cent of those surveyed said that they were putting their purchase plans on hold in 2022, which is a jump from 33 per cent in 2021 and 20 per cent in 2020.

The survey was conducted by Maru Public Opinion with 3,027 randomly-selected Canadian adults in February, which includes a mix of homeowners and renters.

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Canada’s youngest cohort of homebuyers are feeling discouraged by the market’s biggest challenges right now, which includes the rising cost of living, climbing interest rates and economic uncertainty.

Of those respondents between 18 and 34 years old, 90 per cent said that they believe housing prices will continue to grow over the next 12 months. Sixty-two per cent said that they are waiting for home prices to drop before making a purchase.

Fifty-six per cent of Millennials agreed that the current economic environment has negatively impacted their finances, ultimately forcing them to hold off on purchasing a property. A little more than half (51 per cent) of Canadians in the 18 to 34 age group feel that the threat of rising interest rates has paused their home buying plans. However, overall, the majority of Canadians (81 per cent) say that they are more concerned about the increasing price of goods and services than they are about a potential interest rate hike.

“It’s no surprise that a perfect storm made up of the rising cost of living, housing supply shortages, and increased demand has caused Canadians to feel like homeownership is out of reach,” said John Webster, Scotiabank’s head of real estate and secured lending, in a press release. “It’s important that Canadians know that they’re not alone.”

Although offices are reopening and COVID-19 restrictions are becoming looser, Canadians are still motivated to move outside of urban areas in search of affordable housing. In 2022, 35 per cent of respondents say that market conditions have motivated them to move further away from major cities to get more for their money, higher than 29 per cent that was reported in 2021.

This sentiment is most common among the youngest home buying generation, 49 per cent of whom are considering moving out of their city to get more space for their money. In Ontario, 39 per cent of those polled are considering moving or buying a home outside of the city where their dollars will stretch farther.

Instead of getting into a competitive marketplace, some homeowners are choosing to stay put and renovate instead of buying ⁠— 59 per cent of respondents say they are choosing to renovate their existing property instead of purchasing a new home in 2022. This is up from 56 per cent during the height of the pandemic in 2020.

This year, 15 per cent of those surveyed say they will purchase a new property and sell their old one, while 10 per cent have intentions to buy a leisure or investment property.

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