House bubble
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Despite the pandemic and rising home prices, a majority of Canadians say their financial footing remains steady and that they aspire to homeownership, finds an RBC poll released on Monday.

In the poll, conducted in December 2020, almost six in 10 respondents (59%) said they weren’t in a worse financial position compared to before the pandemic, and 85% said they could pay their bills.

Overall, 47% of those polled didn’t believe the pandemic had made it harder to save money, and 54% were confident that better times weren’t far off.

“Despite the pandemic, Canadians continue to remain optimistic when it comes to the future and their finances,” said Amit Sahasrabudhe, vice-president of home equity financing, products and acquisitions with RBC, in a release.

Canadians’ financial resiliency has carried over to the housing market.

The poll, which focused on housing market sentiment, found that the majority of respondents (56%) aspired to purchase a new home with their spouse or partner “at some point.”

Further, most viewed homeownership as a good investment (80%).

While the majority of respondents agreed we were in the worst period of the crisis or that the worse was yet to come (79%), over half said home values would only go up in the immediate future (52%).

For many, however, the dream of homeownership may require a change in location.

Well over half of respondents (59%) said home values in their areas were unaffordable. Respondents had an average budget of $445,237 for a home, the poll found — an amount that falls below the average home price nationwide.

According to the latest data from the Canadian Real Estate Association, the national average home price (not seasonally adjusted) was just over $603,000 in November 2020, up 13.8% from the same month in 2019.

As a result, respondents said they were most interested in purchasing property in the suburbs or a commuter city (38%), followed by rural areas (26%).

Only 14% said they’d look to purchase a home in a major metropolitan area.

“High home values continue to drive many Canadians further outside of major city centres, both in search of affordability and more space,” Sahasrabudhe said.

A majority of those polled said they’d like to buy a detached home (51%), with condos being a distant second choice (18%).

And nearly two-in-five respondents who said they were looking to buy a home in the next two years said they were looking to upsize (38%).

About the RBC poll: Completed between Dec. 2 and Dec. 10, 2020, the poll surveyed 1,066 respondents using Leger’s online panel.

The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys can’t be assigned a margin of error because they don’t randomly sample the population.