Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

What first-time buyers really need: affordable housing prices

Prospective buyers look at homes in a new sub-division in Lakeside, N.S., on April 15, 2010.

PAUL DARROW/paul darrow The Globe and Mail

While mortgage brokers are pressing the federal government to bring back 30-year mortgages and give first-time buyers a bigger tax break, Globe and Mail readers are not convinced that easing mortgage rules is the answer to the problem.

When the Globe and Mail asked readers in an online poll whether Ottawa should make it easier for first-time buyers to enter the real estate market, only 40 per cent of the nearly 2,500 respondents said yes, first-time buyers deserve a break.

"First-time buyers have all-time low rates, realistic 25-year terms, and minimum 5-per-cent down payments," one reader wrote in our comments section. "If they can't afford it, then the prices are too high. The hurdle is low enough for Canadians."

Story continues below advertisement

So what would help new buyers struggling to enter the real estate market? To find out, we asked first-time buyers in a recent community callout about the biggest challenges they face. Some of them were interviewed for a housing feature in Report on Business.

Many of the readers who answered our callout said high prices were the biggest obstacle to buying their first home.

"The biggest challenge I face is affordability," said Dustin Strong, a 34-year-old Vancouver renter looking for a home in the $500,000 range. "I have spent several years saving up enough for a reasonable down payment, but have now determined that in the current market, it just makes more sense to rent."

"Our biggest challenge is saving for a down payment in a market where the average prices of houses increase faster than savings accumulate, and where rentals run the price of mortgages," said Jennifer Forkes, a 36-year-old Toronto renter.

Has it become harder to qualify for a mortgage? It sure has, said Andrew Kavanagh, a 24-year-old looking for a condo in downtown Toronto. "Having the 20-per-cent down payment I am aiming for will not be an issue. However, qualifying for a mortgage will be a huge challenge considering the bank's requirements."

"OSAP is the reason I was able to secure my career job, but it also seems to be the reason I keep getting denied a mortgage," said Cassandra, a 25-year-old looking for a detached home in Niagara Falls. "It's rough because it took me and my fiancé a while to save up for the down payment. Now we would just like someone to accept it!"

Market uncertainty and bubble-talk are also holding buyers back, said James Ellis, a 26-year-old looking for a house in Kingston, Ont., with a $250,000 budget. His biggest challenge, he said, is "determining if the value of a house now is inflated or not, and whether resale value in a few years will reflect the current value once the housing market equalizes."

Story continues below advertisement

"Our main challenge is beating the fear of home prices falling on us," added Joseph, a 28-year-old looking for a detached house in Calgary. "That is what has kept us renting."

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
Report on Business Community Editor

Dianne Nice is community editor for Report on Business and writes about social media. Previously, she was The Globe's online editor for Careers and Personal Finance and has written about these topics for Report on Business and Globe Investor. More

Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at privacy@globeandmail.com.