The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed many aspects of society, but perhaps none so much as the concept of home: for many of the Canadians who locked down in efforts to stop the spread of the virus, where they lived became their de-facto gym, restaurant, and office.

That’s had a significant impact on how we view our homes, according to new national data.

In a survey conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Peerage Realty Partners, a full 75% of Canadians (based on a sample of 1,002 respondents aged 18+) agreed that their home has become more important to them due to the pandemic, with an additional 65% saying they feel a stronger emotional connection to it.

This has been reflected in an intensified demand for residential ownership since 2020, says Ipsos, despite rising prices and the supply challenges facing those trying to break into the market. Not surprisingly, this enhanced appreciation of the emotional benefits of home was stronger among those who own (70%) compared to those who rent (59%).

READ: One Partner at a Time: Inside the Rise of Peerage Realty

The survey also found that the most important considerations among Canadians looking to move have shifted. According to respondents, as of March 2020, the top two considerations when deciding where to live were the level of comfort in their home (73% ranked this between 8 and 10 in terms of importance) and level of safety within their community (71%). This outweighs the 58% who indicated the cost to maintain their home was the most important factor.

The pandemic has led to these attributes being considered even more important to Canadians relative to other aspects, with 46% agreeing the level of comfort has become more important in considering the impact of the pandemic (24% much more/22% somewhat more) and 43% agreeing the level of safety in the community has become more important (21% much more/22% somewhat more). 

Perhaps tellingly, location seems to have fallen by the wayside when it comes to buyer considerations; proximity to work, school, or other regular commitments has become more important to only a minority (30%) of Canadians -- likely due an increase in remote school and work options over the last two years.

Attribute% Important (8-10/10) in Deciding Where to Live% Much/Somewhat More Important Because of the Pandemic
Level of comfort within the home73%46%
Level of safety in the community71%43%
Cost to maintain the home58%36%
Proximity to work, school, or other regular commitments44%30%
Being close to family or friends43%35%
Market value of the home40%32%
Sense of community34%31%

“More than ever before, the emotional factors that drive home ownership are fuelling demand across Canada. In this competitive market it confirms the value of trusted advice from an experienced agent when buying or selling a home,” said Gavin Swartzman, CEO of Peerage Realty Partners. “We have brokers and agents across Canada, and we are seeing the power of these feelings about home.”

Pandemic Brought Real Estate Issues Front and Centre

The data also reveals that many Canadians -- especially younger ones -- became all-around more knowledgeable about the real estate market during the pandemic; eroding affordability and lack of available supply have been especially hot-button issues over the last two years. According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, the average price for a home nation-wide has exceeded the $800,000-mark for the first time, following an annual increase of 20.8%, while available inventory sits at just 1.6 months -- an all-time low.

“Emotional connection and long-term investment intersect even more as Canadians adapt to the socio-economic shifts resulting from the pandemic. Just under half (48%) of Canadians agree that they have become more knowledgeable about the real estate market in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 41% say they are more likely to see purchasing a home as a capital investment because of the pandemic,” states the report. Four percent of Canadians overall report having invested in an additional property since the pandemic, either for personal use (2%) or to rent out to others (2%). 

This is especially apparent among the 18 - 34 age group with 59% agreeing they’ve become more knowledgeable, compared to 48% of those aged 35 - 54, and 40% of those aged 55+. A total of 57% of the youngest age group also indicated they’re more likely to consider real estate as an investment opportunity. 

“This highlights the impact the pandemic has had in broadening younger generations’ understanding of the market and perceptions of investment opportunities in the lead up to their peak home buying years,” reads the release.

An overwhelming majority of respondents indicated just how tough entering the market has been over the course of the pandemic, with 81% saying they believe there’s a severe supply shortage in Canada, especially among renters (87%) compared to homeowners (77%). 

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