Most Canadians have affordability concerns about buying or selling a home in 2023, though a third of people are optimistic about a more balanced housing market this year, according to a new survey from RE/MAX Canada.
The Leger survey commissioned for RE/MAX’s Canadian Real Estate Industry Trends Report found that 59 per cent of Canadians have at least one concern “related to their home-buying or selling journey” in 2023.
All of the top three concerns related to affordability in some way. Cost of living and inflation was the number one concern for 34 per cent of respondents, followed by lack of affordable options in their community for 25 per cent of people and rising cost of rent for another 25 per cent.
Despite concerns, 32 per cent of homebuyers and sellers said they were optimistic about the housing market moderating and regaining balance this year.
RE/MAX Canada president Christopher Alexander said this year could see “major shifts in how brokers run their business” as the market moderates and the industry responds to a slowing economy.
“We may start to see some consolidation as brokerages adapt to the economic slowdown. On an individual level, part-time agents could have a harder time progressing, as they may not be able to meet the needs of Canadians, or their brokerages. And one-on-one, personalized meetings with clients will be more important than ever before,” he said in a written statement.
“This year, the industry needs to be focused on client service, education, and transparency in order to best serve clients.”
The report pointed to possible broader economic effects from challenges in the housing market. It said employers may struggle to attract new workers due to the lack of secure housing, and local communities may be unable to attract and retain new businesses amid higher office rental costs.
A majority of survey respondents – 66 per cent – said addressing the housing affordability and supply crisis should be a top priority for governments across Canada.
“Our severe lack of supply in every town, community, and city across the country, seeps into almost every facet of the lives of Canadians,” Elton Ash, executive vice-president at RE/MAX Canada, said in a written statement.
Alexander encouraged “visionary thinking” from governments to tackle the housing crisis, suggesting reforms to municipal zoning laws, expanding laneway development capacity and building more housing supply “in a manner that doesn’t compromise climate adaption and mitigation efforts.”
Nearly a quarter of people at 22 per cent said they support new building developments that address “the missing middle” housing gap.
Forty-one per cent of survey respondents said removing red tape around zoning and redevelopment is a “key measure” to improve housing supply, and one that they hope continues to expand.
Even more people, at 66 per cent said protecting the environment is “essential” for long-term quality of life, and something they expect will be a factor in their real estate journey. The report pointed to plans to develop the protected Greenbelt in southern Ontario as a “particularly contentious topic.”
Leger is the largest Canadian-owned full-service market research firm. An online survey of 1,554 Canadians was completed between January 20-22, 2023, using Leger’s online panel. Leger’s online panel has approximately 400,000 members nationally and has a retention rate of 90 per cent. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.