Many of us can relate to spending a lot of time scrolling through real estate listings, right? It's where we daydream about our dream kitchens, the perfect backyard, and that ideal ensuite. Surprisingly, in a report published by NerdWallet Canada, over 2 in 5 (43%), or almost 16 million, Canadians plan to purchase a home in the next five years. This is in addition to the fact that a whopping 47% of Canadians spend between one to two years browsing real estate listings before even diving into the actual house-hunting process. It's clear that home buyers know what they want, and we're here to help you explore these fascinating trends and preferences.
We recently got a survey report of 800 Canadians to get to the bottom of what home buyers are really looking for these days. And guess what? It seems like the focus is shifting away from needing more space and is heading towards a desire for more amenities and a greater connection to the great outdoors. Buyers are looking to find that perfect balance!
Single-Family Suburban Dream Home Remains a Priority Despite Soaring Prices
Even as home prices continue to soar in major real estate markets, one thing remains crystal clear: Homebuyers are standing firm in their unwavering dedication to the classic suburban dream home. The allure of open outdoor spaces, a strong sense of community, and a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life continue to pull in buyers to the suburbs.
Contrary to some stories we may have heard during the pandemic, it's evident that homebuyers haven't wavered in their preference for single-family homes and the charm of suburban living. In fact, a whopping 62% of Canadians remain steadfast in their preference for single-family homes, a percentage that far surpasses the attraction to condos or apartments (20%) and townhomes (10%). The allure of a classic suburban home is alive and well!
Canadians Seek City Escape: Embracing Rural Living
When it comes to location, it's clear that Canadians are yearning for an escape from the city. The survey revealed that the suburbs are the top choice for a whopping 71% of buyers, with 44% seeking refuge in suburban neighbourhoods, and an additional 27% opting for the serene ambiance of rural communities. In stark contrast, a mere 29% of Canadians are on the hunt for homes right in the heart of the city. It's evidence of the widespread desire for a quieter and more spacious lifestyle.
In 2022, we saw a surge in the preference for larger homes and increased living space, thanks to the ongoing pandemic. This shift led to a substantial uptick in house prices across Canada's suburbs. With the rise of remote work, homebuyers increasingly turned their attention to suburban areas, which offered more square footage at a reasonable price point. For sellers contemplating listing their suburban homes, there's every reason to feel confident that there's a strong demand waiting for them.
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The mass migration from urban areas sparked a surging demand for properties situated outside city centers. This shift has had a remarkable effect on real estate prices, notably narrowing the price gap between downtown areas and the suburbs. Back in 2016, suburban homes were selling for 33% less than their downtown counterparts. Fast forward to 2021, and that gap has dwindled to just 10%. It's clear that suburban living is on the rise.
While many workplaces have returned to entire in-house operations or embraced hybrid work models, the Bank of Canada (BOC) issued a cautious note. They suggested that if the trend toward larger suburban homes proved to be temporary, housing prices in the suburbs might face downward pressure. However, if our survey respondents have their say, the BOC's prediction may prove to be incorrect. Suburban living seems to be the way forward for many.
With this trend, sellers are enjoying a distinct advantage due to the strong demand for suburban properties. However, while this presents a promising opportunity, it's crucial for sellers to be mindful of certain aspects as they prepare to list their homes.
Homes For Sale In Calgary: Key Features to Emphasize as a Seller
As you prepare to list your home for sale in Calgary, it's important to focus on specific features that resonate with today's buyers. From the survey, we found that most prospective buyers are in search of a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home. This marks a slight shift from previous surveys in 2022, where buyers leaned towards four-bedroom, three-bathroom homes. It appears that in the current market, homebuyers are more inclined to embrace smaller home sizes, possibly driven by considerations of affordability and manageability.
Essential Features and Top Renovations for Sellers to Consider
To make your property truly stand out in the eyes of potential buyers, it's important to focus on certain must-have features or renovations that can significantly enhance its appeal. According to the survey, here are the key features and renovations sellers should consider:
Main Floor Bathroom (54%)
Incorporating a well-maintained main floor bathroom is crucial. It not only adds convenience but also makes the property more accessible, especially for individuals with mobility challenges or families with elderly members.
Updated Kitchen (45%)
The kitchen has always been a major focal point for homebuyers. A modern, well-designed kitchen can substantially increase a home's value and often serves as a central gathering space for family and friends.
Patio, Deck, or Outdoor Space (50%)
Outdoor spaces are highly valued, with 50% of buyers expressing a preference for a patio, deck, or outdoor area. As they may be compromising on indoor space with fewer bedrooms and bathrooms, having an inviting outdoor space becomes even more crucial for relaxation and socializing.
A garage is a practical feature that many buyers desire. It provides not only secure parking but also additional storage space.
Updated HVAC (46%)
Ensuring that the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems are up-to-date is essential. It not only increases energy efficiency but also improves the overall comfort of the home.
Natural Light (53%)
Buyers highly appreciate natural light. Bright, well-lit spaces make a home feel more inviting and spacious.
Among these features, it's worth noting that hardwood flooring remains a top choice for 69% of homebuyers, significantly preferred over carpet, tile, laminate, and luxury vinyl plank.
In summary, as a seller, you can maximize your property's appeal by prioritizing these key features and renovations, making it more attractive to potential buyers who are seeking a balance between comfort, convenience, and indoor and outdoor living spaces.
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Moreover, buyers highly value specific features that contribute to comfort, energy efficiency, and an enjoyable living environment. These include:
- Garage (48%): Buyers appreciate the convenience and security of a garage, which provides both parking and storage space.
- Updated HVAC System (46%): An efficient HVAC system ensures comfortable indoor temperatures and can lead to energy savings.
- Ample Natural Light (53%): Bright and well-lit spaces create a welcoming and pleasant atmosphere in a home.
When preparing your home for sale, it's essential to keep these features in mind and think about how you can effectively showcase them during showings. Preparing your home for sale in Calgary is vital, but not all steps hold equal weight in the eyes of potential buyers. For example, while staging and exterior design are somewhat important, cleanliness is considered extremely important by buyers.
The Least Important Features Sellers May Prioritize Less
On the other hand, sellers should also be mindful of features that buyers generally don't prioritize. Focusing your efforts on areas of importance can help your property stand out in a competitive market. Features that are considered less important by buyers include:
- Mudroom (27%): While some may appreciate a mudroom, it's not a top priority for most buyers.
- Hot Tub (32%): While a hot tub can be a luxurious addition, it's not a feature that resonates with the majority of buyers.
- Pool (34%): Pools can be costly to maintain, and not all buyers are looking for this feature.
- Basement Suite (21%): Not all buyers are interested in properties with basement suites, and it may not be a top selling point in every market.
By understanding what features buyers value and deprioritizing those of lesser importance, sellers can tailor their marketing strategy to make their property more attractive in a competitive real estate market.
Contemporary Style Surpasses Bungalows and Victorians in Popularity
The preferences of Canadian homebuyers are evolving, not only in terms of features but also when it comes to architectural styles. Here's a look at how these preferences are changing.
Contemporary Style Takes the Lead
Contemporary-style homes are gaining significant popularity among homebuyers. These homes are characterized by clean lines, a minimalist design, and the incorporation of modern materials. In essence, contemporary homes represent a departure from traditional architectural designs. They appeal to those who appreciate a sleek, modern aesthetic.
Bungalows Remain Endearing
Bungalows, with their distinct architectural style dating back to the early 20th century, continue to be beloved by many. These single-story houses are known for their low-profile design, often featuring a front porch and a simple yet charming aesthetic. Bungalows are recognized for their efficient use of space and functional floor plans, creating a seamless flow between rooms.
Victorian Style's Timeless Appeal
Victorian-style homes showcase a blend of various architectural influences. They are characterized by ornate trim, intricate woodwork, and decorative elements like gingerbread detailing, stained glass windows, and intricate fretwork. While contemporary styles may be gaining traction, the timeless charm of Victorian homes still appeals to those who appreciate intricate details and historical character.
Buyers' preferences for architectural styles often reflect their personal tastes and lifestyle needs. Whether it's the clean lines of contemporary design, the efficient layout of bungalows, or the ornate beauty of Victorian homes, there's a home style to suit every homeowner's preferences.
What's fascinating is that regardless of their architectural style, homes are increasingly designed to foster a strong connection to the outdoors and to invite ample natural light inside through oversized windows. This design choice aligns seamlessly with the preferences of contemporary, bungalow (traditional), and Victorian-style homes. It's no surprise since natural light is a top priority for 53% of buyers. Hence, maximizing natural light and creating indoor-outdoor synergy is of paramount importance, regardless of the architectural style of the home.
Ultimately, the enduring appeal of these architectural styles lies in their ability to not only provide functional living spaces but also to establish a distinct identity, reflect the personal tastes of homeowners, and capture the essence of a particular era. These homes serve as more than just places to live; they become a canvas for self-expression and a reflection of one's lifestyle and values.
66% of Canadians Deem Home Prices as Deal-Breakers
It's evident that the price of a home is a paramount factor in the decision-making process for many Canadian buyers. In fact, a substantial 66% of Canadians consider the price of a home to be a decisive deal breaker. This strong emphasis on price is, in part, due to the perception that homeownership remains unattainable for a significant portion of the population. A recent survey by Mortgage Professionals Canada (MPC) revealed that an unprecedented 33% of Canadians believe they may never be able to afford a home, underscoring the challenges many face in today's housing market.
As Nick Hill, host of the Canadian Real Estate Investor podcast, aptly puts it, "Price is usually the number one deal breaker in anything." The demand for housing often outpaces the available supply, which inevitably leads to higher home prices.
Is Price the Sole Determining Factor?
Not really. it's essential to note that not all buyers share the same priorities. For instance, when it comes to the generational perspective, Gen Z is an exception. They are more willing to place less emphasis on price and instead prioritize the condition of the home. The condition of a property is a critical deal breaker for many buyers, with 61% of respondents indicating its importance.
According to Nick Hill, "Gen Z's mentality around homes differs from that of Millennials and Boomers." Those from Gen Z who are entering the housing market seem to favour properties that are in excellent condition and are ready for occupancy. They are more inclined to invest in a home that requires minimal repairs or renovations, preferring a move-in-ready experience.
Buyers, regardless of generation, generally seek well-maintained and turnkey properties. Consequently, they are more likely to walk away from a potential purchase if they encounter structural issues or the need for extensive repairs during a home walkthrough. The condition of the property plays a vital role in determining whether a home meets the buyers' expectations and deal-breaking criteria.
The condition of a home carries significant weight for Canadian buyers, with a substantial 68% considering it to be essential when making a home purchase. This emphasis on a home's overall condition is driven by the fact that 47% of buyers are only willing to undertake minor cosmetic upgrades, such as painting or updating fixtures. In contrast, a smaller 32% are open to the idea of more extensive renovations and upgrades, such as roof repairs or foundational work.
In addition to the home's condition, location is another pivotal factor that can sway potential buyers. Elements such as the neighborhood's reputation, and its proximity to amenities, schools, and transportation options all play a crucial role in decision-making. For instance, if the area doesn't feel safe and clean or lacks readily accessible amenities, buyers are more likely to reconsider their purchase.
Basically, buyers are not only concerned with the physical state of a home but also how it fits within the broader context of the neighbourhood and its surroundings. The condition of the property and its location are key determinants in the home-buying process for Canadians.
Medical Facilities: Essential Must-Have for Homebuyers
Amenities play a significant role in the homebuying decisions of Canadians, and one that stands out is the need for proximity to medical facilities. In addition to considering the condition of a home and its location, many buyers also place high importance on community amenities. The top three amenities that Canadian homebuyers seek are:
1. Parks and Outdoor Recreation (64%)
A strong desire to integrate outdoor activities into their living spaces and lives is evident among Canadians. This preference for parks and outdoor recreation spaces reflects a historical and pandemic-amplified trend of valuing outdoor activities.
2. Shopping and Dining (63%)
Access to shopping and dining options is another highly sought-after amenity. Buyers value convenience and the availability of local services and entertainment.
3. Medical Facilities (50%)
Among the top amenities, medical facilities hold significant importance for Canadian homebuyers. Access to healthcare services in the vicinity is a key consideration. This prioritization of medical facilities aligns with the findings of a recent Angus Reid Institute poll, which indicated that a substantial nine million Canadians face 'chronic difficulty' in accessing healthcare.
It makes sense that buyers are not only looking for comfortable and well-located homes but also for neighbourhoods with essential amenities that cater to their lifestyle and healthcare needs. This emphasis on outdoor spaces, shopping, dining, and healthcare facilities reflects the evolving priorities and preferences of Canadian homebuyers.
The top three amenities in demand among Canadians reveal a strong awareness of the need for balance in their lives. The convergence of these amenities - outdoor leisure spaces, access to quality dining and shopping, and proximity to healthcare facilities - reflects a well-rounded approach to lifestyle and well-being. It's a clear indication that Canadians are seeking a harmonious blend of leisure, convenience, and health as essential components of their living experience.
Generational Variances in Homebuyer Preferences
Understanding the unique needs and desires of homebuyers across different age groups is a vital consideration. While distinct differences do exist, it's striking that many aspects of the home-buying process are universally significant to a majority of buyers.
When it comes to the types of homes and features desired, it's intriguing to observe that Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers all share a common interest in single-family homes. Furthermore, a three-bedroom, two-bathroom suburban residence appears to be the ideal dream home for most, with Gen Z showing a slight preference for one additional bedroom. Yet, there are nuanced distinctions among generations when it comes to home style preferences and the amenities that matter most.
- Boomers and Gen X lean towards bungalows, appreciating their open and flowing floorplans.
- Gen Z is on the hunt for contemporary-style homes that offer a more modern design.
- Millennials stand out with their interest in colonial-style homes, characterized by symmetry, two stories, and a central entrance.
In terms of amenities, Gen Z and Boomers prioritize shopping and dining, while Millennials and Gen X favour access to parks and outdoor recreation.
While the desire for single-family homes and suburban living remains a common thread among generations, the nuances in style preferences and desired amenities highlight the diversity of interests. Recognizing these generational distinctions can offer valuable insights to both buyers and sellers in navigating the real estate market and making choices tailored to meet the specific desires of each generation.
Homebuyers Embrace Smaller Ideal House Sizes
The desires of Canadian homebuyers are significantly influenced by their strong preference for single-family suburban homes, even as the prices of these homes continue to rise in major cities. As of September 2023, the average home price in Calgary stands at $696,100 while according to a government report, the national average salary is expected to increase by 4.2% in 2023, reaching an estimated $59,300 per year. This discrepancy between home prices and income likely contributes to the trend of homebuyers embracing smaller, more efficient living spaces.
Buyers are increasingly open to downsizing and prioritize amenities and outdoor areas over larger square footage. However, it's essential to note that certain key features like a main floor bathroom, an updated kitchen, and abundant natural light remain of utmost importance to buyers. Factors such as price, home condition, and location continue to play a crucial role in the decision-making process.
For those planning to buy or sell a home in 2023, understanding these evolving preferences is vital in navigating the dynamic real estate market. It allows for more informed decisions and a better alignment with the changing needs and expectations of today's homebuyers.
The data for the "What Home Buyers Want 2023" survey was collected online from May 4, 2023, to May 5, 2023. The online survey included 800 respondents and featured a range of opinion-based, self-report, and knowledge-based questions designed to gauge their priorities and views, considering the current economic climate and real estate market conditions. The original survey was conducted by Alyssa Davies, a content manager for Zolo. The estimated margin of error for this survey is +/- 3 percentage points.