Desire to buy closes gen gap
ICAN still clearly remember, as a highschooler, the day my dad came home from work and dropped a large brown envelope on the kitchen table.
There was no big celebration, just satisfied smiles.
My mother opened the envelope, looked inside and put it in her cedar chest.
The letter marked the day when the home they had purchased in 1943 for something like $7,000 was theirs. The mortgage had finally been paid off.
Every month, a chunk of my dad’s hardearned steel factory money went to paying down that mortgage — no doubling up, no five per cent down payment, no help from parents, and just one income.
Some months, it was tough sledding, but it got done.
TD Canada Trust recently came out with a Generational Homeownership Study in which they talked with today’s young homebuyers (ages 18 to 34) and with some 55-plus folks who still recall buying their first home.
The questions put to the 900 who were interviewed by Angus Reid Strategies were pretty basic: What prompted you to buy? Did you get some kind of financial help? How important was paying off the mortgage?
When today’s 55-plus Canadians bought their first home, paying off the mortgage was a top priority — much more important than it is to this current generation.
Today, less than half of young adults (49 per cent) agree that paying off their mortgage is a first priority, compared to 64 per cent of those over 55, according to the study.
Debt was something to get rid of, as it is for most people today. But I can recall a realtor telling me that today’s homebuyers are not afraid of debt.
Mind you, that was before the economic downturn. Some may have changed their minds by now.
What hasn’t changed is the desire to own a home.
A couple of months ago, I interviewed Devon Wolfe, a full-time University of Calgary student, who, along with girlfriend Priscilla Naber, decided the time was right to buy their first home.
The pair of 20-year-olds had crunched some numbers and decided renting was just a waste of money.
They wanted to start getting some return for the cash they were doling out every month.
When we considered how much we have paid in rent in the past relative to the cost of owning a home — as well as the fact the payments are being transferred into equity rather than going down the drain — it was pretty much a no-brainer, says Wolfe.
Young people are now more likely to feel they are financially ready to buy a home than their parents and grandparents were: 51 per cent to 37 per cent.
Here comes the kicker — two of them, actually: About 36 per cent of today’s 18-34 age bracket said they could not have afforded their first home without help from family, compared to 16 per cent in the 55-plus category.
Going a step further, 27 per cent of young buyers either received a gift of money or borrowed from family or friends. For Wolfe and Naber, though, this wasn’t the case. They saved their downpayment. Kind of a throwback. Just 10 per cent of the 55-plus set said they borrowed from family or friends.
When it came to getting a mortgage, the older buyers tended to go visit a bank manager who probably attended the same church they did, bowled in the same league and shopped at the same grocery store.
For nearly two-thirds of the 55-plus group, there was no shopping around. Loyalty was the deciding factor when it came to getting a mortgage.
Today? Computers make shopping around a given. Rates are negotiable — go to the lender with the best deal, get pre-approved and start the buying process.
There are so many different options available now — and easier access to information with the Internet — that it’s no wonder today’s first-time homebuyer shops around a bit more, says Chris Wisniewski, group product manager for TD Canada Trust. Thirty years ago when people were looking for financing, they usually had limited choices.
— Canwest News Service