BMO has issued the first in a two-part series of releases taking the pulse of first-time homebuyers and diving into their views on the Canadian housing market. While the survey shows a drop in how first-time buyers feel about market affordability amid today’s sizzling market, some regions show a different story with buyers in Western Canada feeling now is a good time to purchase a home.

The survey, conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights, found:

  • Compared to last September, sentiment around affordability has cooled for over a third of first-time buyers. In this latest survey, 32 per cent are indicating that now is a good time to buy. Demographically, Millennials were the least likely to be optimistic about buying in the current market (30 per cent).
  • The provinces tell a contrasting story. First-time homebuyers in Alberta and the Prairies are optimistic about their markets (70 per cent and 55 per cent, respectively). The most pessimistic first-time buyers are found in Ontario, closely followed by those in B.C. and Quebec (20 per cent and 22 per cent each, respectively).
  • The view of the housing market is, in part, being driven by first-time buyers’ perception of housing prices. As we turn the corner on COVID, most (62 per cent) believe that house prices will go up. First-time homebuyers in the Prairies and Alberta were the most likely to hold this view, at 73 per cent and 72 per cent respectively.
  • With prices expected to increase, some first-time homebuyers plan on sitting on the sidelines. Close to 40 per cent said they plan to hold off on buying a home until prices come down; Millennials are the group most likely to wait.
RegionExpecting to spend on first home (on average)
Atlantic Canada$206,000
British Columbia$586,000

“The Canadian housing market, overall, is incredibly strong right now with record demand and tighter supply pushing prices up,” said Hassan Pirnia, Head, Personal Lending and Home Financing Products, BMO Bank of Montreal. “While some buyers are looking to accelerate their move into the market anticipating price appreciation, we are seeing others pause on their homeownership plans. We know how significant the purchase of that first home is – it’s a milestone for most Canadians. Where we’re focused is on helping Canadians get their foot in the door. We are providing first-time buyers with the ability to get cashback on their mortgage – while also providing the longest pre-approval time – and are working with them to come up with tailored plans to help them get into the home they want.”

The down payment
Over the course of the pandemic, Canadians have amassed a healthy savings cushion. According to the survey, 80 per cent of first-time buyers intend on using some or most of their increased savings to boost their down payment.

On the down payment itself, first-time homebuyers are spread out on the amount to spend. Over a third (36 per cent) indicated that they would be looking to put down between five and 10 per cent of the purchase price, while nearly 20 per cent of buyers plan on making a down payment between 16 and 20 per cent. On the higher end, close to 15 per cent of buyers are looking at laying down between 21 and 50 per cent of the purchase price of their first home.

For first-time homebuyers, getting pre-approved provides a cushion for due diligence when purchasing a home. According to the survey, nearly 20 per cent of first-time buyers are already pre-approved and 48 per cent plan on getting pre-approved. For obtaining that pre-approval, close to a third would consider an online option.

To help provide peace of mind, BMO has introduced the ability for first-time homebuyers to apply for mortgage pre-approval online and receive a decision in real time. As well, the bank offers the longest rate guarantee period at 130 days. For more information on mortgage options and affordability tools or to be pre-approved online, visit: