After over a year of working remotely from home, first-time homebuyers are trading their big city lifestyles for suburban life as they continue to seek more space, with nearly 50% of first-time homebuyers saying they plan to purchase their first home in the suburbs, according to BMO's latest housing survey.
The survey, conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights, found that a "healthy" number of first-time buyers plan to settle down in the burbs, with 53% of BC and Ontario buyers leading this trend.
While the driving force to relocate to the suburbs is affordability (44%), buyers also prefer the ability to purchase a larger house (41%) than what might be possible in a major urban centre.
Though, 30% of first-time homebuyers said they'll still consider looking for their first homes in major city centres.
Of these buyers, 27% are looking at Toronto, 15% in Vancouver, and 11% in Montreal and Calgary. Being able to stay close to work (49%) and not wanting to leave the area where they currently live (49%) are the main factors pushing towards or keeping first-time buyers in these cities.
When it comes to the property type that first-time homebuyers are looking at, 61% said they have their eyes on detached homes, close to a third (32%) will be looking at a townhomes, while just over a quarter will be looking at a semi-detached house or condo (28% and 27%, respectively).
"With remote work expected to continue over the long-term, first-time homebuyers have the flexibility to look for a home that isn't necessarily next door to where they work," said Hassan Pirnia, Head, Personal Lending and Home Financing Products, BMO Bank of Montreal.
"Between this added work flexibility and price appreciation in some major cities, the expectation is that we will continue to see a push into the suburbs," added Pirnia.
To make the dream of owning a home possible, the survey also revealed that first-time buyers are looking to maintain savings and lifestyle goals after purchasing a home.
The vast majority (92%) indicated that, when buying their first home, they still want to have money left over to enjoy the things they love, including traveling and shopping.
First-time buyers are also looking at maintaining their savings goals, with 90% wanting to balance monthly housing costs with the ability to save regularly.
However, there are some first-time buyers willing to stretch their wallets to purchase their first home, with 61% indicating that purchasing a home they wanted was more important than having money left over each month, with buyers in the Prairies and Quebec the most likely to share this sentiment (67% and 66%, respectively).