Millennials are sometimes dubbed “Generation Screwed”.
It is said that young people nowadays face difficult prospects in life and that it applies to homeownership as well. A typical narrative says that it is tougher for people born from 1980 to 2000 to buy a house compared to their elders.
However, a report by the Toronto-Dominion Bank has noted that millennials are “faring better economically than is commonly portrayed”.
According to the TD Economics report, more than 50 percent of millennials in Canada owned a home as of the first half of 2015. Moreover, they are buying at a “younger age than their parents—or any other cohort that has come before them, for that matter”.
Hailey Curtis, 22, is a new addition to the ranks of millennial homeowners. In January this year, she moved into her condo.
“I just wanted to get a head start while I have the opportunity,” Curtis told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.
According to her, she has a well-paying job as a manager in a financial-technology company in Vancouver.
Curtis related that her parents steered her in the right direction: “They said, like, ‘You need to be saving up,’ because I never went to postsecondary school. I landed…a job that I really like, and it was full-time. And I was really, really, unsure about what I wanted to do after high school anyway.”
She continued: “So I just said, ‘Let’s forget it for now.’ And they said, ‘Well, that’s fine. If you don’t want to go to school, you don’t have to. But you need to save your money and your goal needs to be realistic, because you need to get in [the real-estate market] as early as possible so that you can pay everything off as early as possible and not, you know, have a mortgage when you’re 60, like us.’ ”
It was more than just encouragement that she received from her parents.
“They let me stay with them with no charge. So all the money I would have been spending on rent or paying my parents, I was able to save it,” Curtis said.
After four years of saving, she had enough for a down payment. “It was just the right time, like I was financially ready,” she said.
Curtis also said that it helped that her realtor, Garth Sylte, is also a millennial. She met him at an open house and, a homeowner himself, he was able to make a good connection with her.
According to Curtis, her biggest concern about owning a property is if the economy slumps and she loses her job.
For now, prospects look good, based on the interim global economic outlook released by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in March this year.
According to the Paris-based think tank, Canada’s economy will grow by 2.4 percent and 2.2 percent in 2017 and 2018, respectively, surpassing the 1.4-percent growth figure for 2016.
However, the OECD in the same report expressed concern about the pricey housing market in this country.
“In advanced economies, some countries have experienced rapid house price increases in recent years, including Australia, Canada, Sweden and the United Kingdom,” the OECD stated. “As past experience has shown, a rapid rise of house prices can be a precursor of an economic downturn.”
Curtis got her Port Coquitlam condo for less than $230,000, and she recalled that the 700-square-foot-plus unit wasn’t even the cheapest at the time.
Citing her experience, she said that the Tri-Cities, which includes Coquitlam and Port Moody, is a “good place to start” for first-time home buyers because prices in the area are relatively affordable.
“Anything past that, like Burnaby…Vancouver, I don’t think I’ll be able to afford that in a long time until I’ve paid off a lot more of my apartment and have some equity,” Curtis said.
From her new place, she said that it’s now easier for her to get to work via public transit.
Being in Port Coquitlam also gives her more comfort: “It’s close enough to my parents. I don’t get too homesick or lonely.”