Rising Property Taxes Top of Mind For First-Time Homebuyers In Ontario: Survey

    Tax Consideration In GTA Among Highest In Canada

    TORONTO, Feb. 20 /CNW/ - The potential of property tax increases is on
the minds of first-time homebuyers in Ontario - and the GTA in particular -
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.
    "It seems that the debates about higher property taxes which have been
taking place at city halls across Ontario are firmly on the minds of
first-time buyers, and especially among those in the Greater Toronto Area,"
said Peter Vukanovich, president of Genworth Financial Canada.
    The City of Toronto has proposed a 3.75 per cent property tax increase,
the City of Toronto's new land transfer tax took effect February 1st, and the
Ontario government's three-year freeze on property tax assessment values was
lifted January 1, 2008.
    Almost two-thirds (65 per cent) of Ontario respondents surveyed for
Genworth's latest report cited property tax increases among things they
consider when buying a home. In Toronto, 69 per cent said they're worried
about property taxes going up, the second highest rate of concern about the
issue in Canada, behind Albertans at 72 per cent.
    Practical considerations about taxes, the level of monthly payment and
changes in interest rates all ranked higher in concern for residents of
Ontario than the possibility of a future decline in property values,
consistent with results across the country.
    "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 Vukanovich.
    "That said, there are some issues which do concern them, such as rising
property taxes and high monthly payments. But the good news is that there are
innovative mortgage insurance solutions available to help make homeownership
more affordable," Vukanovich said.
    "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
    "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

    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: Sherri Leclair, Genworth Financial Canada,
Marketing/Communications Leader, (905) 287-5408 or

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