Friday, March 21, 2014

Gen-Yers and home ownership

There are nine million Gen-Yers or “millennials” in Canada, many of whom are financially savvy, have control of their money, take a long-term approach when investing and are keen to own their own homes.  Despite high student loans to repay and fewer job opportunities, millennials are thinking about money in very different ways than their parents.  According to TD’s 2013 Investor Insights Report, this group is saving to invest; they use the Internet to track the stock market through their mobile phones and are skeptical of financial advice, meaning they do their research.

The Index also found that millennials start investing when they are 20, compared to Boomers who started investing, on average, at age 27.  They would like to invest even more of their money, making them a group with serious financial clout. For many, home ownership is a priority.

Here are some facts about millennials; new learning we can all benefit from:
  1. Millennials take a conservative approach when investing.  Forty per cent take a long-term, buy-and-hold approach. 
  2. They currently invest 18% of their income but would like to invest up to one third of their income. The TD Investor Insights Index found that saving for retirement was a top investment goal followed by saving to buy a house, then travel, then achieving financial independence.
  3. Millennials love TFSAA accounts because of the flexibility.
  4. They are independent, ask a lot of questions about investments and do their research.
In 2013, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp, (CMHC) held seminars identifying this age group as a growing opportunity for the Ontario housing market. While millennials accounted for 15 per cent of home ownership demand in Ontario in 2012, by 2016 they will own about 35 per cent of the province’s homes.

About one-third or 30% of those interviewed online said they expected assistance from parents or family. Nearly two-thirds (61%) said they have made cuts to their lifestyle to save for their first home.

The interest in home ownership is nationwide. A Bank of Montreal report released on March 18, found that first-time home buyers have increased their home purchase budget by six per cent to approximately $316,000. In Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto, those budgets are even higher. Fifty-three per cent of home buyers in the Calgary market will even break their budgets for the right home, compared to the national average of 33%.

In British Columbia, the Gen Yers are redefining the housing market there according to Melanie Reuter, director of research for the Real Estate Investment Network who has written a report about it.
“They are a more urban group, no longer dependent on a car, partly because of cost, and partly because they genuinely care about sustainability.” she said in a Globe and Mail interview. “They didn’t get their driver’s license the day they turned 16, it’s almost a badge of pride they wear, not needing a vehicle.”

They use transit, so will want to be located close to work, and close to transit hubs. Many were likely raised in townhouses or condos, and are familiar with living in smaller spaces. “They also like new spaces, as opposed to old houses they’ll have to spend weekends fixing up,” Reuter added.

For 35% of millennials, finding trustworthy advice is their biggest challenge. Twenty-seven per cent learned about savings and investing from their parents and family, 18% are self-taught and nearly half (48%) manage their own portfolios online.

The latest Market Insights from the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals (CAAMP) found that millennials  are a little nervous and apprehensive about investing in a home; however,  the majority of those who are homeowners are comfortable with their decisions and would make the same decision again. 

Interestingly, the report also found that mortgage brokers are a key channel for millennials looking for mortgage information, advice and arranging their mortgages, and turn to brokers 40% of the time. The broker’s value as an advisor, coupled with a strong customer service approach hits home with this age group. Younger clients see brokers as valuable consultants helping them to understand their options.

It’s a group that can’t be ignored.

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