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Canada’s Rising Tide of Housing Co-ownership

A recent nationwide survey revealed that six per cent of Canadian homeowners co-own their property with another party, not including their spouse or significant other. A significant 89 per cent co-own with family members and seven per cent with friends. Another eight per cent have property partners who fall outside the bracket of friends or family.

When considering the living dynamics of these co-owners, 44 per cent indicated that all fellow co-owners reside in the home together. In contrast, 28% say that although they co-own a property with another, they don’t share the same roof. For 6%, the property isn’t a primary residence for any parties, instead serving as an investment or vacation getaway.

Pandemic Living and the Shift in Housing Needs

The seismic changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic led many Canadians to rethink their living arrangements. The need for companionship during times of isolation saw a surge in people opting to share their living spaces. Even as social distancing measures have eased, many have chosen cohabitation as a way to address their housing needs. Current surveys from real estate professionals note a 23 per cent uptick in buyers purchasing homes with someone other than their spouse or partner, when compared to the pre-pandemic era. Eight per cent noticed a substantial increase in such arrangements.

Financial Constraints Drive Co-ownership. A Solution or Symptom of the Housing Affordability Crisis?

Multigenerational households aren’t new. However, their rise in recent years points to both financial and social reasons. As home prices soar, mortgage qualifications become stringent, and interest rates witness a surge, Canadians are pooling resources to make home ownership viable. By sharing the financial burden, many hope to access better localities and larger properties that were previously out of their budget’s reach. According to survey findings, a staggering 76 per cent of co-owners flagged affordability as the dominant reason for their shared property purchase.

Analyst Insights: No Quick Fixes in Sight for Affordability

Sal Guatieri, a senior economist at BMO, paints a grim picture for prospective homebuyers. Guatieri comments that the recent interest rate hikes by the Bank of Canada have stymied the housing market’s budding recovery. He remarks that affordability is currently at its most challenging since 1988, with the median income falling short of the demands of the average-priced Canadian home. Hope, according to him, lies in potential policy changes that could alleviate this burden.

Adding to this perspective, Tony Stillo from Oxford Economics warns that the peak of housing prices might be on the horizon, possibly followed by a 10% decline by 2024. Despite this, he predicts that nationwide housing affordability might remain out of reach for the average Canadian household until 2027.

While shared property ownership offers a temporary solution, the underlying issues continue to persist. As Canadians grapple with a seemingly never-ending housing affordability crisis, the country awaits more long-term, sustainable solutions.

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