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Realtors' signs are hung outside a newly sold property in a Vancouver neighbourhood where houses regularly sell for C$3-C$4 million ($2.7-3.6 million) September 9, 2014. Last year’s performance of 842 homes that fetched $3-million or more smashed the previous record of 691 luxury sales in 2011

Reuters

Affluent Canadians are sitting on an average value of $1.5-million for their homes, a recent poll indicates.

That compares with an average price of $448,862 for homes sold in April, according to the latest figures from the Canadian Real Estate Association.

Excluding the red-hot markets for the greater Toronto and Vancouver, the average figure in April was $339,893.

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Indeed, the poll published Monday by the Bank of Montreal puts the average value of an affluent homeowner's primary residence in Vancouver at $4-million and at $1.8-million in Toronto.

High-net-worth Canadians are those with investible assets of $1-million or more, the BMO report says.

The poll also indicates that 95 per cent of affluent Canadians own their residence, as opposed to renting, and that 58 per cent state they have paid off their mortgage.

Among those carrying a mortgage, the average amount they have left to pay is $176,000, the poll shows.

"There have been substantial wealth increases in the last decade, decade-and-a-half, partly as a result of the rise in real estate values," said David Macdonald, senior economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

"If you owned a house that was paid off in 2002, then this is very good news for you. Those folks who managed to do that are going to be relatively well off," he said. These homeowners will tend to be older, he added.

But people in their 20s, 30s and 40s who just got into the housing market or are at the halfway point of paying down their mortgage are carrying high debt levels, Mr. Macdonald said.

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"My real concern isn't so much 'can they carry it today?,' but 10 years from now as the cost of carrying debt rises."

Among other findings of the BMO survey:

  • 36 per cent of high-net-worth Canadians own a second or additional property
  • Of those with a second or additional property, 40 per cent own two or more extra properties
  • The top reason for owning a second property is to have vacation time, 47 per cent said
  • Among those with an additional property, 80 per cent own one in Canada, 27 per cent in the United States and 11 per cent in Europe
  • The average value of a high-net-worth primary residence in Quebec is $678,600, compared with $719,500 in Alberta

The survey results are from an online poll conducted by Pollara between Oct. 15 and Oct. 28, 2014, using a sample of 306 Canadians 18 or over who have at least $1-million in investable assets (excluding employers' retirement plans, insurance products or their home).

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