First-time buyer numbers diminishing in real estate market: B.C. notaries

Nearly 60 per cent of notaries say there are fewer first-timers this year, with mortgage stress test seen as the key culprit

There are fewer first-time buyers in the real estate market this year, according to a new survey of B.C. notaries – and they say the top factor affecting the market is the mortgage stress test.

Some 59 per cent of the 173 notaries polled reported seeing fewer first-timers in 2018, with 28 per cent reporting no change and just 13 per cent seeing an increase.

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Regarding first-timers who did enter the housing market, 83 per cent of notaries said the buyers were getting some help with their down payment from family. This is up from 57 per cent in 2015.

The proportion of down payment help has also increased over the past three years. This year, 42 per cent of notaries said they are seeing financial help of typically 25 to 50 per cent of the down payment (up from 33 per cent of respondents in 2015) and 16 per cent of respondents seeing more than half the down payment coming from family help (up from 15 per cent in 2015).

BC notaries first time buyers
Source: B.C. Notaries Association

Daniel Boisvert, president of B.C. Notaries Association, which conducted the poll of its members, said, “While it’s great to see that many first-time buyers are finding ways to get their first home, increased restrictions and the potential for higher interest rates is making some cautious or decide to wait on the sidelines to amass more of a down payment.”

Just over three-quarters of the respondents (76 per cent) said that high home prices were an issue in their community. A total of 108 of the 173 polled notaries were based in Greater Vancouver, while the rest were from various regional centres around B.C.

Of those 173 notaries, 121 said that the mortgage stress test was one of the three biggest issues affecting the real estate market in 2018 – the highest proportion of the seven given factors. The next biggest issue was rising interest rates, with 97 notaries citing it as a top-three factor.

BC notaries factors affecting market
Source: B.C. Notaries Association

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