Monthly Payments, Interest Rates, Property Taxes Top of Mind For First-Time Buyers: Survey



    Future of Housing Market Lowest on List

    TORONTO, Feb. 20 /CNW/ - Two out of three first-time buyers considering a
home purchase are confident in future housing values but are thinking about
monthly payments, the potential for rising property taxes and interest rates,
according to a new report released today by Genworth Financial Canada, The
Homeownership Company, a subsidiary of Genworth Financial, Inc. (NYSE:  GNW).
    Genworth's winter First-Time Homebuyer's Monitor provides a comprehensive
snapshot of the preferences and expectations of first-time buyers across
Canada. Property taxes, interest rates and high monthly payments were the
highest ranked among a list of seven issues first-time buyers were asked
about, while concerns that housing values might decline in the future ranked
the lowest.
    "Overall, this report illustrates that Canadians continue to have
confidence in the strength of the housing market. They take cyclical market
fluctuations in stride and are focused on the long term benefits of building
equity sooner", said Peter Vukanovich, president of Genworth Financial Canada.
    "That said, there are some issues which do concern them, such as high
monthly payments. But the good news is that there are innovative mortgage
insurance solutions available to help make homeownership more affordable,"
said Vukanovich.
    Only 33 per cent of first-time buyers surveyed for the report said "a
drop in house values in the future" was of concern to them, making it the
lowest-rated of seven possible factors. The top consideration, at 63 per cent,
of first-time buyers nationally was "high monthly payments," which was highest
in the most expensive housing markets, including Alberta (74 per cent), the
Greater Toronto Area (73 per cent), Ontario (71 per cent) and British Columbia
(65 per cent).
    Rising property taxes were cited by almost 60 per cent of first-time
buyers across the country - a level of worry that peaks at about 70 per cent
in British Columbia, Alberta and the Greater Toronto Area. Almost 60 per cent
nationally were also apprehensive about rising interest rates.
    "Canadians are savvy shoppers and they're looking at the bigger financial
picture," said Vukanovich. "Economic factors like monthly payments, rising
interest rates and property tax increases are playing a much greater role in
homeownership decisions - particularly among the first-time homebuyer
segment," he added.
    "Nationally, more than two thirds (68 per cent) of respondents said that
a home is the single most important investment they'll ever make. This shows
that Canadian first-time homebuyers continue to believe that buying a home
remains one of the most solid personal investments they will make in their
lifetimes, and they understand the importance of achieving the goal of
homeownership," said Vukanovich.
    First-time buyers in the Greater Toronto Area and in Alberta are,
however, concerned about future house values. Following extraordinary housing
price spikes in Alberta's red-hot economy, which have begun to moderate,
54 per cent of buyers surveyed were worried about declining values. In
Toronto, where home and condo values also have climbed rapidly, 50 per cent of
first-time buyers expressed the same sentiment.

    
    The Genworth survey highlighted some interesting perspectives:

    -   The most common level of down payment intended was between
        5-10 per cent, while 25 years was the most preferred amortization
        term and a five-year mortgage term remains most popular nationally.

    -   Nationally, most first-time buyers planned to spend between
        $100,000-$199,000, except in Alberta and the Greater Toronto Area,
        where respondents cited $200,000-$299,000, and British Columbia where
        first-time buyers expected to pay $300,000-$399,000.

    -   Almost 60 per cent of first-time buyers said they'd get mortgage
        information from the Internet, including the use of online mortgage
        calculators to see what monthly payment they could afford.
    

    The full Genworth Financial First-Time Homebuyer's Monitor is available
at www.genworth.ca.

    About Genworth Financial Canada:

    Genworth Financial Canada, The Homeownership Company, works with lenders,
mortgage brokers, real estate agents and builders to make homeownership more
affordable and accessible throughout Canada. The company combines global
experience in mortgage insurance with technological and service leadership to
deliver innovation to the mortgage marketplace.
    In addition to releasing two First-Time Homebuyer's Monitor reports
annually, Genworth Financial Canada also issues reports on Canada's housing
market and condo market in winter and summer; all in conjunction with the
Conference Board of Canada. Our intention is to educate and provide useful
information to consumers, homeowners, future first-time homebuyers and
governments. We believe homeowners and homebuyers require up-to-date
information about Canada's housing market to make informed decisions about
homeownership, for many the most important investment of their lifetime.
Genworth Financial Canada also listens to homebuyers about their challenges
and concerns, to make us better informed about how we can continue to offer
innovative products that help more Canadians realize the dream of
homeownership sooner and more affordably.
    Additional information about Genworth Financial Canada is available at
www.genworth.ca or through mortgage lenders.





For further information:

For further information: MEDIA CONTACT: Sherri Leclair, Genworth
Financial Canada, Marketing/Communications Leader, (905) 287-5408 or
sherri.leclair@genworth.com


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