Owning the roof over your head should still be a goal for most Canadians, as paying rent is like paying someone else’s mortgage, experts say.
The Bank of Canada gave its clearest signal so far this week that interest rates are set to rise, while a growing number of real estate watchers and some economists are forecasting property prices will decline.
Given such a scenario, some first-time buyers may be tempted to hold off on what’s likely to be one of the biggest purchases of their lives, though that may be a mistake.
Judith Cane, president of Antara Financial Group, said she has just advised a first-time buyer to get into the market.
They had been renting for four years and when they calculated how much they had been paying out, they decided they didn’t want to wait another year, Cane said.
“I am of the mind that it’s always good to buy,” said Cane, whose fees comes from clients paying for her advice and not from commission on the sale of financial products. “People may have to lower their expectations about what they can afford, but it’s better, especially if you are younger, to put your
money into buying rather than renting.”
About two-thirds of Canadians currently own their own homes, with men more likely to be homeowners than women at 69% compared with 63%, according to a recent BMO survey. Those least likely to have taken the plunge were in the 18-to-34 age bracket. Only a third of those surveyed in that age bracket were homeowners.
“If you have the opportunity to get into the market, it’s a great time to buy,” said Laura Parsons, a mortgage expert at BMO. “In many places it’s a buyers’ market.”
“There are a lot of renters out there and it’s very lucrative to have a rental property,” she said, pointing to rising Canadian rental prices.
According to the Canadian Mortgage Housing Corp., the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom place was $864 in April, up from $848 in April last year.
That price rises to $1,181 in Vancouver and $1,124 in Toronto, Canada’s costliest cities.
With interest rates currently so low, mortgage payments for an average $300,000 property are unlikely to be that much higher than rental payments.
A fixed-rate mortgage of 5% and an amortization period of 30 years would put monthly mortgage payments at $1,521.02. Adding in property taxes, monthly payments are likely to be about $1,771.02, according to figures supplied by BMO.
If a monthly rental of $1,200 increases by about 5% a year, after eight years your mortgage payments will be less than your rent, BMO says.
Cane said the main argument in favour of renting over buying is if you are highly mobile and plan to be in a location for less than five years. In that case, renting is probably the best option.