More than one-third of Ontarians who plan to purchase a pre-construction or newly built home were born outside of Canada, according to Tarion's New Home Buyers Report.
Of the Ontario residents who intend to buy a new home within the next year, 35% were born in another country, while 4% were born in a different province. Regarding the former group, the majority were well-established in Canada, with an average of 17 years since their immigration.
Conducted by Environics Research Group in late 2022, the online survey included responses from 526 Ontario residents between the ages of 25 and 75 who plan to buy a new home in the next 12 months.
The report defined a "new home" as either a pre-construction property or an existing abode that was built within the last five years.
Seeking to draw a detailed portrait of Ontarians who are buying new homes, the survey found that 35% are first-time buyers, while the remaining 65% are repeat purchasers. The latter tended to be older, with 86% identifying as a baby boomer and 79% falling into the Gen Xer generation, married or in a common-law relationship (69%), and born in Ontario (71%).
Meanwhile, first-time buyers were more likely to be millennials (46%), single (54%), and newcomers to Canada (74%).
David MacDonald, Group Vice President, Financial Services, at Environics Research, told STOREYS that immigrants are driving a significant portion of real estate activity in Ontario, and across Canada.
"Saving for a down payment and buying their first home in Canada [...] is a very important milestone for immigrants and new Canadians," MacDonald said. "They've taken a big risk by moving to a new country, and buying a home is a great indicator of success. I see new Canadians being a great driving engine of the new home construction market going forward."
In 2021, more than 8.3M people, or nearly one-quarter of the Canadian population, were immigrants or permanent residents. The federal government welcomed more than 431,000 new permanent residents in 2022, and aims to attract 465,000 newcomers in 2023, 485,000 in 2024, and 500,000 in 2025.
Immigrants tend to settle in and around large cities, like Toronto, where significant new construction is taking place. One-third of survey respondents intend to buy their new home in the neighbourhood they currently live in, while just over half plan to stay in the same city or town.
A new home offers less risk than a resale property -- it's unlikely you'll have unexpected furnace issues or need to replace the roof in a year or two -- and is covered by the Tarion new home warranty program. These added layers of protection make newcomers feel more confident to purchase a new home, MacDonald said.
Newcomer or not, confidence was key when buying a newly built abode. Half of all survey respondents said buying a home built within the last five years would give them the greatest peace of mind, while 39% said a pre-construction property would soothe their stresses.
A builder's reputation (92%) and the property's warranty protection (91%) were two of the top factors buyers considered during their new home search.
Energy efficiency was also a key issue, as noted by 96% of respondents, a phenomenon MacDonald said relates to the increase of remote work -- 73% of respondents wanted space to work from their new home. But, at 98% and 97%, respectively, the most important factors when shopping for a new home were the size and price of the property.
Fully detached homes were the most sought-after property type, with 66% of new home buyers preferring such an abode, followed by semi-detached homes and townhomes, both at 38%, while 32% of respondents preferred condos.
"People want a home they can trust," MacDonald said. "They want to buy with peace of mind, and they get that with new homes because of the protections that are in place."