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Go it alone: Singles are taking on homeownership for themselves

Cindy Stephen
Calgary Herald

Calgary is the third best city in Canada for single people to make a date with a mortgage broker.

In July 2020, Canadian online real estate broker conducted an analysis of 50 Canadian cities using metrics that would predict a single person’s ability to afford average home prices in each centre.

Regina and Saskatoon, both with relatively low costs of living, ranked first and second, while Ottawa, a city with higher average incomes, placing fourth. Winnipeg placed fifth, while Edmonton, with stable employment and growth rates, checked in at sixth.

Zolo compiled data from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., Statistics Canada and factored in local market information. Figures from last summer pegged Calgary with an average home price of $467,000 (it’s since dropped to $437,000), a required minimum gross income of $83,000, an unemployment rate of 9.3 per cent (now sitting at 12.6 per cent) and a population growth rate of 14.6 per cent (now a modest 2.25 per cent).

Many of those numbers have wobbled in late 2020, as they have across the country. But singles still make more money on average than non-singles, and the population of singles in Calgary is the third highest in the country. The proportion of singles owning homes is approaching 50 per cent, a growing number. And homes are still moving despite a challenging year and singles, like 27-year-old Priya Boyal, are buying.

Boyal is established in her career as the director of operations for small underground infrastructure construction firm. Knowing she wanted a home of her own someday, she moved in with her parents three years ago so that she could aggressively save her money. She didn’t want a condo, or a townhome or a resale starter property. She’s building a 1,652-square-foot, two-storey home by Jayman Built in Belmont on the outskirts of the city.

“I decided to go with a new build because I’m not a handy person. I wanted to be comfortable with everything exactly how I want it with no renovations required,” she says, adding that she wanted something she could grow into over time, with a yard for her dog.

She chose Belmont in the extreme southwest to be close to her parents who live south of the city in Foothills County. After researching builders, she chose Jayman because of their focus on building sustainable homes.

“Jayman stood out. They have solar panels on their homes and upgrades for energy efficiency. I was also comfortable going with them — they’ve been around for a long time,” she says.

Boyal is among the young, single buyers that Jayman is seeing — individuals with their first “real” job who want to take advantage of historically low interest rates with monthly payments that could possibly be less than rent.

“This would by and large be a buyer aged 25 to 35. They’re typically buying a duplex or a laned starter home in the $300,000 to $370,000 range with a few options,” says Jayman sales manager Michael Klassen.

The addition of the federal government’s First Time Home Buyer Incentive program, which launched September 2019, has also been a helpful resource. It’s a shared equity mortgage loan for approved buyers.

Boyal is building Jayman’s Sonata, a three-bedroom, 2.5 bathroom laned model on a corner lot, which starts in the $390,000s. Her strict monthly savings plan allowed her to upgrade her kitchen and install additional windows to take advantage of her corner lot.

Klassen says single-income buyers who spend more — in the $450,000 to $500,000 range — are typically older, perhaps looking for a fresh start after a change-of-life circumstance. These buyers often want a garage, more storage and security features like cameras, alarms and smart technology.  High on their priority list is the location, whether close to children and other family members or work, plus community amenities such as trails, lakes and shopping.

“We are seeing singles showing up in Belmont, Legacy, Wolf Willow, Cochrane and Mahogany,” Klassen says.

View the original article here.