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Pattie Lovett-Reid

Chief Financial Commentator, CTV


Is the dream of owning a home realistic?

I'm not exactly sure when it happened however, for decades Canadians have felt the need to buy a home.

The real estate market has held up exceptionally well especially during the pandemic and from an investment perspective for many it has exceeded all expectations.

However, with real estate being a pillar of strength in the Canadian economy it has also become a hot political issue and is turning into a key pocketbook issue for Canadians.

I question whether it should be?

Owning a home isn't really a right of passage into adulthood nor is always a savvy move for everyone. Home ownership is simply out of reach for many in the hottest pockets across the country. Canada isn't unique in this scenario, few can afford to own in the likes of London, New York, Paris, etc.

Sure there are plenty of really great reasons to buy a home but peer pressure, dated perceptions or even the expectations of price gains shouldn't be at the top of the list. There are simply too many people who are house poor, struggling to make ends meet thinking a house is the only investment you can make.

I believe the need to own is an outdated concept. It simply isn't the only logical step toward wealth creation.

On Tuesday, the Liberals introduced platform promises to help first-time homebuyers. Now to be fair, I would love to see an end to blind bidding wars and the Liberals, like the Conservatives, are also zeroing in on foreign investors, saying they will ban home purchases from those not living in or planning on moving to Canada, for a two-year period.

However, I wonder if $1 billion pledged for rent-to-own projects and introducing a new first-time homebuyers saving account is really going to help?

Do taxpayers ultimately pay for policies supporting home ownership at a time when renting is a viable and highly acceptable option?

During the past few years there has been panic buying and I understand the fear of being left behind. The bank of mom and dad for some has been opened and if they can afford it great.

However, for others, despite some of the policies being offered up by all the political parties, recognize there is great comfort in knowing if you rent, you aren't stretched beyond your limits and renting can provide you with a lot of financial flexibility that shouldn't be underestimated.