More than half of people in Toronto believe they’ll never be able to afford a home here

Home ownership is becoming more and more of a dream-like fantasy for young Torontonians, on par with becoming a rock star or joining the circus — both of which are actually probably easier right now for a talented arts industry worker than buying a house in Canada’s largest city.

The newly released results of Maru/Blue survey commissioned by Right at Home Realty, a Toronto-based real estate brokerage, suggest that 51 per cent of all Ontario residents are “feeling left behind” in the current housing market.

With an average detached home price of $1.75 million (and rising), it’s not hard to see why Toronto residents, specifically, are discouraged

When looking at the GTA, as compared to all of Ontario, the number of respondents who see home ownership as out of reach rises to 55 per cent. In the 416 / City of Toronto proper, that percentage rises to 59 per cent, and the numbers get even wilder when broken down by age group.

Among all Ontarians surveyed, 74 per cent of those aged 18-34 indicated that they “believe they may never be able to afford a home where they currently live.” Roughly 47 per cent of those aged 35-54 felt the same way, compared to 37 per cent of those over the age of 55.

The pandemic’s impact on home ownership dreams

Nearly one in four (23 per cent) of the 817 randomly selected adult Ontarians surveyed by Blue/Maru between April 23 to April 25 stated that the pandemic had negatively impacted their ability to purchase a home.

Roughly two thirds of respondents, however, stated that the pandemic had no impact on their ability tosave for a new home.

“Looking ahead, housing demand across Ontario is expected to remain robust, including from non-homeowners and first-time buyers,” reads the Right at Home report.

“While the vast majority (70 per cent) of non-homeowner respondents have no immediate plans to purchase a home, a substantial portion does. According to the survey, nearly one in four (23 per cent) respondents who currently rent or live with family plan to purchase a home in the next two to three years.”

The survey’s results also suggest that, as the brokerage puts it, “the pandemic-influenced exodus of Ontarians living in the region’s most dense urban areas to smaller cities may be overstated.”

The mass exodus may be over

Only 18 per cent of homeowners actually expressed a desire to move from a large city to a smaller community as a result of the pandemic, but that doesn’t encompass all Ontarians — only those who already own homes.

“While the work from home outcome of the pandemic is undoubtedly impacting the housing market…. The vast majority of Ontarians have no plans to move or change city locations as a result of these new dynamics,” says Right at Home Realty president John Lusink.

“As homebuyers look to the end of the pandemic and begin to consider what the future of work looks like, employer requirements will have an impact on housing and location choices.”

Many Toronto workers are more than ready to get back to the office, even if only for a few days per week, and analysts say this may be driving some of the recent hesitancy among downtown residents to flee the city.

“While nearly half (44 per cent) of respondents across Ontario (45 per cent in the GTA) who are currently working from home admit that in the last year they have considered moving out of the city to a smaller municipality/town, their ultimate courses of action will be closely tied to the post-pandemic future of work,” reads the report.

Work-from-home trends will determine future plans

“When asked if post pandemic their employer required them to work from the office a portion of the week (1-3 days per week), in practice 63 per cent of respondents across Ontario said they would be less willing to move further away,” the report continues.

“However, if offered the option to work from home permanently, 55 per cent would consider moving out of their current city or location.”

All in all, regardless of what their employers permit post-pandemic, 42 per cent of survey respondents worried that moving away from a larger center (read Toronto) could hurt their career opportunities.

“Career growth remains a priority for many professionals living in the city, as they fear not being able to find the same work opportunities in smaller urban areas in the province,” said Lusink.

“On the flip side, more flexibility in work settings, schedules and openness to remote work have offered Ontarians a unique opportunity to take some time to decide where they want to settle and take a closer look at what their professional future may look like in their new hometown.”