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Residential Mortgage Commentary - Census Says: Renting on the Rise

The latest release of information from the national census last year shows homeownership has trailed-off in Canada. Between 2011 and 2021 homeownership dipped from 69% to 66.5%.

The decline appears to be led by young adults. Those between the ages 25 and 29 saw their rate of ownership fall from 44.1% to 36.5% over the 10-year period. Those between 30 and 34 experienced a similar reduction, with their ownership rate falling from 59.2% to 52.3%. Baby Boomers, those between the ages of 56 and 75 at the time of the census, account for 44.3% of all homeowners in Canada.

More than 10 million Canadian households owned their home in 2021. Five million households were renting. The number of renters in the country grew at twice the rate of owners between 2011 and 2021.

Affordability is a key factor in the rent-versus-own decision and the census shows affordability improved in 2021. But it needs to be pointed out, that data is skewed by government COVID income supports.

The census ranks British Columbia as the least affordable province. More than 25% of housing was deemed unaffordable. In Ontario 24.2% of housing fell into that category. The lack of affordability is largely attributed to high rents in the downtown cores of cities like Vancouver and Toronto.

It will be no surprise that the cost of shelter increased for both owners and renters over the 10 years since the last census, but renters have been particularly hard hit. Their monthly costs rose at nearly twice the rate of owners – almost 18% for renters, compared to a little less than 10% for owners.


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