Who are Canadian Home Buyers?

Home buyers in Canada come in many different forms: different ages and different family dynamics with different goals. The following is a sample of what some buyer groups might look like.

First-Time Home Buyers

First-time home buyers typically young professionals in their late 20s or early 30s—millennials born between 1981 to 1996. They are usually motivated to purchase their first home thanks to a change in family status, like getting married.

“The ones I work with mainly work stable corporate jobs,” said sales representative and REALTOR® Andrea Lopes. “They are usually searching for a condo, but I have had couples go straight into a single-family home with anticipation of having space for future children.”

Lopes noted, while most of the first-time home buyers she works with are professionals, they almost always have down payment assistance from their parents.

“Most first-time home buyers have a ton of questions and really appreciate my help and guidance,” said Lopes.

According to the 2019 REALTOR.ca Insights Report, 47% of REALTOR.ca visitors are first-time home buyers. First-time home buyers are 30% more likely to reach out to a REALTOR®. REALTOR.ca visitors in this group tend to skew toward a younger age range of 25-34. This age group also accounts for about 25% of all REALTOR.ca visitors.

Goals:

  • Establish their careers and climb the corporate ladder.
  • Find a location close to work or with easy access to commuting options like highways or trains.
  • Increase net worth by investing in an asset.
  • Take steps toward building a stable environment for future families.

How a REALTOR® can help:

  • Guide buyers through the entire home buying process.

Starter Home Upgrade/Repeat Buyer

Buyers and sellers looking to upgrade from their starter homes are typically in their late 30s to early 40s. They are usually motivated by a lifestyle change, like a growing family.

“This move is almost always prompted by needing extra space for a growing family,” say Lopes. “Small kids are getting bigger or parents are tired of living in an attached home and are looking for a bigger detached home.”

These buyers are usually more selective with their decision. They are less motivated by affordability and more interested in homes that meet their needs. School district and local amenities are important factors.

According to the 2019 REALTOR.ca Insights Report, 43% of REALTOR.ca visitors are repeat buyers. Repeat buyers visit REALTOR.ca seven more times compared to first-time home buyers. About 25% of REALTOR.ca visitors are between the ages 35 to 44, while another 21% are between 45 and 55.

Goals:

  • Find a home matching their current needs, including number of bedrooms and location.
  • Maximize return on investment (ROI) for existing home.
  • Find move-in ready home to avoid displacing family during renovations.

How a REALTOR® can help:

  • Provide expertise on desired location. For more lifestyle-based information such as schools and their catchments, transportation, grocery stores and more use the REALTOR.ca map page.
  • Help with staging and selling current home.

Seniors 

Senior buyers are older than 50 and are typically looking to downsize.

“Everybody that I can think of currently, in the over 70 group, are all looking to downsize. Either the house is too much for them or they want to be closer to the kids, but in every case they are looking for something smaller,” said Janet Kay who has her Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®) designation, which helps REALTORS® work with clients over the age of 50. 

Their needs can vary greatly depending on which end of the age spectrum they are on. Buyers in their 50s or 60s might still be active, but are simply looking for something closer to grandchildren, while older clients might be more focused on accessibility needs (a condo without stairs, for example).

Often, the decision to sell their family home is a difficult, emotional decision.

“With the seniors training I have, there are a lot of recommendations I can make to them. I have to respect the fact that they may not want to go anywhere,” said Kay.

Kay says she often sees senior clients who are on reduced incomes but have a lot of equity in their homes. Explaining options like reverse mortgages or sell-and-stay (where you sell your home but continue living there as a renter) can help senior buyers and sellers feel empowered.

Like first-time home buyers, they typically have a lot of questions because they haven’t bought or sold property in many years. Many are selling the homes they raised their families in.

According to 2019 REALTOR.ca Local Insights, 15% of REALTOR.ca visitors are between the ages 55 to 64 and nearly 9% are over 65 years old.

Goals:

  • Find a home matching their current needs—size and accessibility are important.
  • Find a home to fit a more modest income.

How a REALTOR® can help:

  • Explain how buying or selling process has changed since their original purchase.
  • Help client understand cost of downsizing (condo fees for example).
  • Provide guidance on search criteria to align with budget and goals.
  • Use specialized knowledge from SRES® courses.

Rental Property Investors

Rental property investors are usually in their late 30s or older and typically share many of the same attributes as repeat buyers.

“Many (investors) bought their first home over 10 years ago and see an opportunity to use their equity to buy an investment property,” said Lopes. “I spend a lot of time educating them to help them make decisions. Prices, expenses, expected rent and return, setting expectations on time commitment to managing tenants. There isn’t a big expectation of cash flow in the Greater Toronto Area, we just look for something that will break even, and the goal is more about long term growth.”

According to the 2019 REALTOR.ca Insights Report 5% of REALTOR.ca visitors are residential investors and about 1% are commercial investors.

Goals:

  • Earn extra income, often to help support their growing family.
  • Concentrating on long-term growth, rather than quickly flipping for a profit.

How a REALTOR® can help:

  • Find appropriate properties to fit clients wants and needs.
  • Validate opinions on the best properties for a good ROI.
  • Use expertise to guide clients through paperwork.
  • Extended REALTOR® professional network (for example contractors, notaries, inspectors, etc.).

Sarah Doktor brings her experience as a small-town journalist and national online editor to the Canadian Real Estate Association as a Communications Advisor. Sarah helps facilitate conversations between CREA and our members, boards, associations and the public via our online communities. She also helps coordinate the content presented to you here on the CREA Café. In her spare time, Sarah can be found at the gym, running on a trail or watching Netflix with her cat, Libby.


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