Payments, Property Tax Increases Top Alberta First-Time Homebuyers' Concerns



    TORONTO, Feb. 20 /CNW/ - High monthly payments and possible increases in
property taxes top the list of considerations for Alberta first-time
homebuyers, with more than 70 per cent of respondents ranking them as their
top two worries about buying a home, according to a new report released today
by Genworth Financial Canada, The Homeownership Company, a subsidiary of
Genworth Financial, Inc. (NYSE:  GNW).
    "Albertans are savvy shoppers and they're looking at the bigger financial
picture," said Genworth President Peter 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."
    The report, a comprehensive snapshot of the mindset of first-time
homebuyers across Canada, showed that although Albertans' concerns about a
future decline in property values ranked among the lowest of a list of seven
subjects buyers were asked about, there was some concern about future housing
values given the province's price increases in recent years, followed by a
more recent cooling trend.
    More than half (54 per cent) of Alberta respondents surveyed for
Genworth's latest First-Time Homebuyer's Monitor cited a future drop in
housing values among things they consider when buying a home. Nationally, only
about one third (33 per cent) of first-time buyers say they're concerned about
falling market values.
    "With the Alberta housing market being as hot as it was for as long as it
was, it is not surprising that there might be a slightly higher level of
awareness about price fluctuations among Alberta first-time homebuyers,"
Vukanovich said. "The truth of the matter is that price appreciation in
Alberta is now returning to a more normal state, where steady moderate growth
is expected for the future."
    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.
    "This report illustrates that overall 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," he added. "But the good news is that there are innovative
mortgage insurance solutions available to help make homeownership more
affordable."
    "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 that they understand the importance of achieving the goal of
homeownership."
    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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