Toronto

Make home ownership affordable, OREA campaign to urge election candidates

An organization that represents Ontario real estate agents will urge candidates in the upcoming provincial and municipal elections to support policies that would make home ownership affordable.

Ontario Real Estate Association launched 'Keep The Dream Alive' campaign on Monday

Tim Hudak, left, CEO of the Ontario Real Estate Association, appears with Nik Nanos, right, of Nanos Research, at a televised news conference. The OREA launches a campaign, Keep the Dream Alive, on Monday. It will run during the provincial and municipal election campaigns in Ontario. (CBC)

An organization that represents Ontario real estate agents will urge candidates in the upcoming provincial and municipal elections to support policies that would make home ownership affordable.

The Ontario Real Estate Association launched a media campaign, Keep The Dream Alive, on Monday.

It will take the form of an advertisement that traces the home ownership dreams of a young couple, then shows the heartbreak that follows when they crunch the numbers and realize they cannot afford a home of their own. 

"That dream of home ownership is slipping away for an entire generation of young people," Tim Hudak, the association's CEO, said at a televised news conference.

"You know the folks. They're in their early 20s or their early 30s and they've done everything right. They got their degree. They're working hard. They're paying down their student debt. Yet they're struggling to take that next step in life to own a home. We need action to address this problem." 
A still photo from an advertisement launched by the Ontario Real Estate Association. The ad traces the home ownership dreams of a young couple, then shows the heartbreak that follows. Here, the young couple is happily meeting a real estate agent. (Ontario Real Estate Association)

Hudak, also former leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party, called this situation "the millennial trap." 

He said the campaign is not only focused on the plight of millennials, but also their boomer parents who are beginning to downsize, as well as young families and all first-time homebuyers.

Ad to run on TV, social media

The ad will run on television and on social media during election campaigns this spring and fall. 

Hudak noted a significant number of young people still live at home with their parents because they cannot afford to buy their own homes.

He said millennials are interested in home ownership, but they are frustrated. And he said they do support political parties that are committed to making home ownership affordable.

According to Statistics Canada, just over a third of young adults, aged 20 to 34, lived with their parents in Canada in 2016. In Ontario, the numbers are higher than they are in other provinces and territories. Statistics Canada says 42.1 per cent of young adults in Ontario were living with their parents in 2016. 
Statistics Canada says 42.1 per cent of young adults in Ontario were living with their parents in 2016. (Getty Images)

Meanwhile, the OREA's own recent survey, conducted by Nanos Research, found that:

  • More than 68 per cent of young Ontarians agree or somewhat agree that home ownership is unaffordable in their neighbourhood.
  • About 41 per cent of young Ontarians cited saving enough money for a down payment as the most important barrier to owning a home.
  • Seven in 10 young Ontarians agree or somewhat agree they are more likely to vote for a political party that is committed to helping them own a home. 

Ontarians head to the polls for the provincial election on June 7.

Hudak said government action has focused on cooling the housing market, in the face of rising prices and dwindling supply, and there has not been much help for young people who want to buy their first homes.

"Folks, housing is not a luxury. People need a place to live," he said. "It is time to take a very different path."

Hudak urged governments and candidates to "keep the dream of home ownership alive instead of smothering it" by doing the following:

  • Boosting the housing supply in Ontario.
  • Increasing the supply of "missing middle" housing, which includes townhouses, semi-detached houses, row houses and mid-rise condo buildings, and is a kind of housing that the association believes is attractive to millennials and empty-nesters.
  • Giving first-time home buyers some relief, including increasing the land transfer tax rebate or offering financial help with down payments.

OREA represents 70,000 real estate brokers and agents in Ontario.