New research shows, savings more important when buying a home

In the fall of 1997, I moved back home to live with my parents. I had been living on my own since I was 23, attending university, teaching and living abroad. I boomeranged home when I was trying to decide my next career move. While my parents made it easy to live with them, it was not something that I really wanted to do. Like many 25-35 year old’s, I really wanted to become a homeowner.

I hatched a plan to buy a house and began hunting in the spring of 1998. I purchased a charming 560 sf. bungalow built in 1923 that needed some cosmetic upgrades but was a solid home. I paid $37,000 – I had no savings so my down payment was my $2,000 income tax refund from the previous year.

How things have changed in Manitoba

  2000 2020
Average House Price $87,000 $304,150
Saving Vehicles Available Savings Account, Short term GIC TFSA, Savings Account, Short term GIC
Home Buyer Plan Yes Yes
Home Buyer Incentives No Yes
Mortgage Rates

(5-yr fixed rate Bank of Canada)

7.75% 4.79%
Down Payment Required 25% Minimum 5%, if less than 20% requires mortgage insurance

 

A recent survey conducted by the Manitoba Financial Services Agency showed that there continues to be strong interest amongst 25- to 34-year-old Manitobans in becoming homeowners. The majority of them are relying on their TFSA as a saving vehicle and about half of them have been able to save during COVID times. Most figure that they will need on average $40,000 for a down payment but they will have to increase this amount if they are purchasing a home at or above the average house price and want to avoid having to purchase mortgage insurance.

Some things have not changed in the last 20 years. Young people today don’t undertake purposeful financial planning. Most do not budget and if they do, only half of them are sticking to it. They also cite the barriers to saving as being over-spending, not knowing where to get the best Return on Investment (so they don’t bother to invest at all) and unexpected expenses or loss of income.

I consider myself to be very fortunate, things could have gone very wrong for me. I didn’t have a plan, I didn’t save a down payment. I didn’t plan for the unexpected or the possibility of lost income. So, while I have a good story to tell, I would never suggest anyone follow in my footsteps.

This is a good case of “do as I say not as I do!”

– Ainsley Cunningham
Founder and Project Coordinator, MoneySmart Manitoba
Manager, Education & Communications, Manitoba Financial Services Agency

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