Is It Getting More Difficult to Buy a Home in Canada?

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If you are thinking about purchasing a home in Canada, it’s wise to stay on top of the market and understand why so many people say that buying a house is getting more and more difficult. Why is that so? For one thing, new buyers face more hurdles than ever before. Larger down payments, higher closing costs, a generally unfavorable market, more stringent requirements for documentation and credit scores are just a few of the factors causing all the trouble. Here are the key areas of concern among a great number of Canadian citizens who intend to purchase a house in the near future:

Down Payments

It depends on your particular situation, but in most cases, new home buyers need to put between 5 and 20 percent down. That percentage is based on the sale value, so it can be a huge amount of cash even for moderately priced residences. For younger folks who have fewer resources, this factor is something of a double-whammy. Not only do they get hit with a high down-payment requirement for being young and having a shorter credit history, but they are then asked to come up with more money up front.

As recently as a decade ago, few deals required up-front payments that exceeded five percent of the total purchase amount. Nowadays, if you have less-than-perfect credit and a modest income, you might have to pony up $25,000 or more in order to get a decent interest rate on your mortgage. If you can’t, be prepared to take on an interest rate that is higher than normal.

Closing Costs

Many first-time buyers don’t pay attention to closing costs until the last minute. Even if their agent warns them about having funds available for these expenses, they assume they’ll be able to come up with another chunk of cash when needed. The sad truth, for many, is that these costs close them out of being able to buy a house.

Market Prices

The single most challenging factor in this entire arena is market prices. In the past five years, prices have soared and there is no end in sight. Home prices are rising, especially in major cities. That means if you want to be near your place of employment, you’ll be forced to take on more debt than you wish or you’ll have to commute a long distance into the city. This scenario is squeezing young and middle-income buyers out of the ownership game and leading to a hyper-active rental market where high numbers are already the norm.


It might seem like a trivial thing, especially when viewed alongside high prices and huge down payments, but the requirements for documentation have grown to staggering heights. For example, the average closing session for a real estate deal took only 45 minutes in 2010 and entailed fewer than 14 signatures on as many separate documents. Today, the typical time for a closing is in excess of 90 minutes and means the buyer must sign nearly 30 pieces of official paper and read through, and initial, many more.