Census data shows that 61.3 per cent of Quebec households owned their home in 2016, compared to an average of 67.8 per cent in all of Canada.
The Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards (QFREB) recently published a study that examines Quebec’s lag in its homeownership rate compared to other Canadian provinces.
“Although the gap has narrowed since 1971, Quebec still remains well below the national average,” says Paul Cardinal, manager of the QFREB’s Market Analysis Department. “The homeownership rates in the province’s six census metropolitan areas (CMAs) are no exception, particularly those of Montreal and Sherbrooke, which in 2016 had the lowest proportion of homeowners among all CMAs in Canada.”
Homeownership also remains an issue for young Quebecers, says the federation. According to the latest census data, between 2011 and 2016, the homeownership rate among those under 25 years of age fell by 2.5 percentage points (pp). The rate fell by 2.8 pp for the 25 to 34 age group, by two pp for the 35 to 44 age group and by 0.4 pp for the 45 to 54 age group.
The study says household composition could partly explain the lag in homeownership. Single-person households are more prevalent in Quebec (33 per cent) than elsewhere in Canada (28 per cent).
“Since it is more difficult for a single person to save the down payment required for the purchase of a home than it is for a couple, it is not surprising that Quebec’s homeownership rate is lower than Canada’s,” says Cardinal.
The “opportunity cost” of homeownership – the additional monthly amount that a tenant household can expect to pay to become an owner household – also appears to have an influence on the homeownership rate, says the study. According to QFREB’s analyses, generally the higher the opportunity cost of ownership, the lower the homeownership rate. The difference between the costs associated with ownership and those associated with renting is often greater in Quebec than elsewhere in Canada, it says.
QFREB has been advocating for several years for an exemption of the welcome tax for first-time buyers. This measure would take the form of a refundable tax credit for the purchase of a first home and would help the province catch up in its homeownership rate, says the federation. QFREB is also proposing a reform of the Home Buyers’ Plan.