First time home buyers in Alberta drive a hard bargain

- TD Canada Trust releases 2010 Home Buyers Report -

TORONTO, July 5 /CNW/ - Are Albertans better negotiators than the rest of Canada? More than any other province, first time home buyers in Alberta are expecting to pay less than the asking price for their home (71% vs. 65% nationally). One-quarter (26%) expect to pay asking price and only 3% expect to pay more than asking price. This is according to the first TD Canada Trust Home Buyers Report, which surveyed Canadians who have purchased their first home in the past 2 years or who intend to purchase a home in the next 2 years.

More than in any other province, Albertans report putting down as much as they can afford for a down payment (95% vs. 88% nationally). Sixty-five per cent say they saved or plan on saving for two years or less for their home purchase. Despite the majority putting down as much as they can afford, only 25% plan to have more than a 20% down payment. The remaining 75% will require their mortgage to be insured by organizations like the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). Two-thirds (65%) are worried about being able to afford their home if interest rates rise.

"It's only natural to want your first home to be the home of your dreams, but it is important to be realistic about what you can afford as a down payment and what that will mean for both the type of home you buy and for your mortgage payments over time," says Farhaneh Haque, Regional Sales Manager, Mobile Mortgage Specialists, TD Canada Trust. "I advise first time home owners to consider a larger down payment because a 10% or greater down payment will make a big difference. It may mean that you need to save longer before buying your first home, but it will pay off in the end. Speak with a representative at your bank about setting up an automatic savings plan to help you save."

Seventy-three per cent of those surveyed in Alberta have or plan to have a fixed-rate mortgage. "Historically you are more likely to save interest costs with a variable rate or short-term mortgage option, so if they can handle some volatility then I recommend buyers choose a variable rate. If people are adverse to interest rate fluctuations then a fixed-rate is best," says Haque.

Albertans are doing their homework:

Nearly all home buyers are making informed financial decisions before buying their home. Top activities before buying a home include getting pre-approved for a mortgage (94%), learning about mortgage options (93%), calculating closing costs (89%) and speaking to a mortgage lender before shopping for a home (89%). However, land transfer tax, closing costs and property taxes were the top costs that buyers felt unprepared for (53%, 51% and 48% respectively).

What type of home do Albertans want?

Fifty-nine per cent of Albertans prefer fully detached homes, followed by condominiums (17%) and semi-detached homes (14%). If two homes were at the same price point, 68% would prefer a newer home over an older home. Albertans are split about the preferred location for their home; for the same price, 55% would prefer a smaller home closer to work and 45% would prefer a larger home that requires a longer commute to work.

Home shopping process:

People in Alberta do their due diligence when searching for a home, spending almost 9 months looking for a home and viewing on average 13 homes. They spend a lot of time shopping in Alberta because they plan to live in their first home for longer than people in other provinces. In fact, only 5% of people plan to spend less than 3 years in their first home (compared to 11% nationally). Thirty-nine per cent plan to spend more than 10 years in their home or to never sell.

About the TD Canada Trust Home Buyers Report:

Results for the TD Canada Trust Home Buyers Report were collected through a custom online survey conducted by Environics Research Group. A total of 1,000 completed surveys were collected between June 8-21, 2010, including 100 from Alberta. All participants either purchased their first home within the past 24 months, or intend to purchase their first home within the next 24 months.

About TD Bank Financial Group

The Toronto-Dominion Bank and its subsidiaries are collectively known as TD Bank Financial Group. TD Bank Financial Group is the sixth largest bank in North America by branches and serves more than 18 million customers in four key businesses operating in a number of locations in key financial centres around the globe: Canadian Personal and Commercial Banking, including TD Canada Trust and TD Insurance; Wealth Management, including TD Waterhouse and an investment in TD Ameritrade; U.S. Personal and Commercial Banking, including TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank; and Wholesale Banking, including TD Securities. TD Bank Financial Group also ranks among the world's leading online financial services firms, with more than 6 million online customers. TD Bank Financial Group had CDN$574 billion in assets on April 30, 2010. The Toronto-Dominion Bank trades under the symbol "TD" on the Toronto and New York Stock Exchanges.

For further information: Karen Williams, Steve Presant, Paradigm Public Relations, 416-203-2223, kwilliams@paradigmpr.ca, spresant@paradigmpr.ca; Tashlin Hirani, TD Bank Financial Group, 416-982-3375, Tashlin.hirani@td.com