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Canada home buying intent up as prices fall: survey

 

TORONTO (Reuters) - A growing number of Canadians say they plan to buy a home over the next two years, and see a slide in the real estate market creating more favourable prices, according to a survey by the country's largest bank.

The Royal Bank of Canada's annual home ownership survey found 27 percent of Canadians polled intend to purchase a house over the next two years, up from 23 percent a year earlier.

The online poll of 2,026 Canadians conducted by Ipsos Reid between Jan 6-9 also found 65 percent of those surveyed believe it is a buyers market right now.

Of those intending to buy, three in 10 saw favourable housing prices as a driving factor. The survey found 54 percent of Canadians expect housing prices will fall in 2009, up from 31 percent a year ago.

While there appears to be optimism in the RBC survey, recent industry statistics suggest the housing market may be in for a tough year, extending softness seen since the financial crisis first surfaced.

Figures from the Canadian Real Estate Association show home prices slid 11.3 percent in January to a national average of C$273,607 ($213,755). The industry group expects 2009 sales will drop nearly 17 percent to 360,900 units.

Most sector groups predict the property market -- from homebuilders to real estate agents to economists -- will rebound in 2010 as the economy stabilizes.

The RBC survey, which is considered accurate within 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, said 83 percent of respondents remain positive that home ownership is a good investment. This was down from 85 percent a year earlier and 90 percent in 2006.

 (Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson)

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