The young adults who bought into an expensive housing market in the past year are feeling remarkably good about the purchase.
They have worries, of course. Inflation is definitely a problem, and many singled out their mortgage as a concern. But with rising interest rates testing the financial resilience of borrowers, the millennials and Gen Z members who bet big on housing seem to be holding up well.
This glimpse into the minds of young home buyers is based on response to a recent informal survey in my Carrick on Money e-mail newsletter that targeted people under 40 who bought a home in the past year. A total of 488 people responded, 24.3 per cent of them indicating that buying their home was the best move they ever made.
Just over 52 per cent said their level of satisfaction about their home purchase is pretty high, 18 per cent said they were moderately satisfied and a bit over 5 per cent said they had a low level of satisfaction or regretted buying. Even as signs of slowing growth in home prices emerge and interest rates grind higher, buyer’s regret is apparently not a thing among recent buyers.
Buyers who got into the market last year bought at extremely elevated prices, but they did have an opportunity to lock in low mortgage rates. Two-thirds of survey respondents said they will renew in four or five years, which means they have no immediate exposure to rising interest rates if they went with a fixed rate.
Just under two-thirds of those who responded to the survey have a fixed rate mortgage, 32.6 per cent have a variable rate and the rest have a hybrid of the two. The interest cost of variable-rate mortgages was incredibly cheap for a while, but it’s marching higher in sync with the Bank of Canada’s trendsetting overnight rate.
Mortgage balances for those who responded to the survey are an eye opener. Mortgage balances of $1-million or more were reported by almost 12 per cent, while balances of $750,000 to $1-million were noted by 15 per cent and balances of $500,000 to $700,000 were noted by 29.5 per cent.
Thirty-one per cent of respondents said they live in Toronto or Vancouver, which are the country’s most expensive markets. But a growing number of cities or regions in British Columbia and Ontario now have an average resale home price of close to $1-million or more. Mega-mortgages are becoming normal for young buyers who don’t have six figures’ worth of parental help for a down payment.
The amount of debt carried by young homeowners helps explain why close to 16 per cent of survey respondents said their mortgage is their biggest financial stress right now, and another 7 per cent said they were concerned about an imminent mortgage renewal.
The biggest financial stress is inflation, though. Just over 46 per cent ranked inflation number one, while another 6.6 per cent singled out the cost of gas and food. Close to 3 per cent said their top worry is finding money to save for retirement. A sampling of other stressors cited in the survey results: Student debt, child care, the cost of home repairs or renovations and climate change.
Despite these concerns, young adults seem to be holding their own financially. Almost one-third rated their overall financial health as rock solid and almost 60 per cent said they’re doing okay. Just 7 per cent rated their financial health as worrisome, and 1.4 per cent said they’re definitely struggling.
One thing young adults seem to have going for them is rising pay. Forty per cent said their income has risen by more than 5 per cent in the past 12 months, while another 14 per cent have seen their pay rise by 2 to 5 per cent. Just over one-quarter of survey participants said their pay has stayed the same, while just under 7 per cent said their pay has fallen.
With inflation raging and interest on the rise, stress levels for homeowners young and old are on the rise. The surprisingly strong percentage of people with raises of 5 per cent or more suggests that one of the best coping strategies right now is to ask your employer for a raise or bonus.
Are you a young Canadian with money on your mind? To set yourself up for success and steer clear of costly mistakes, listen to our award-winning Stress Test podcast.