Quebecers Want to Know More About the Environmental Impact of a Home

  • Quebecers would like to see a standardized environmental impact assessment system for housing.

  • Rising prices dampen home-buying intentions slightly until 2027 in favour of renting.

  • Work-from-home is ever more popular.

MONTRÉAL, Dec. 9, 2022 /CNW Telbec/ - The Fonds immobilier de solidarité FTQ, the Société d'habitation du Québec, the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers (QPAREB) and the Service de l'habitation de la Ville de Montréal unveiled today the results of a vast survey on residential real estate in Québec. Conducted by Léger in the fall, the web-based survey polled 6,755 people on their home-buying and -selling intentions in the next five years. A similar study was conducted in 2021. The 2022 edition was designed to gauge whether the pandemic is having a lasting impact on consumers' housing choices and to find out to what extent environmental factors play into these choices.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF A HOME

Sixty-nine percent of homeowners and future homebuyers support the introduction of a standardized system for assessing the environmental impact of a home.

Of the 6,755 respondents, 42% believe that their housing decisions (living in the city, the suburbs, the countryside, in a large or small house, new or old, etc.) do not impact the environment. However, 11% believe that their choices have a negative impact. Those aged 18-34 are more likely to believe that their housing decisions have a negative impact (17%). Of note, only 36% of homeowners and future homebuyers say they have enough information to assess the environmental impact of a home. Those aged 55 and over are the most confident, with 41% saying they have enough information. Interestingly, 35% of respondents would like cities to provide information on the environmental impact of a home; 21% and 9% feel that this information should be provided, respectively, by the provincial and the federal government. Although the information should come from local government, more than two-thirds of Quebecers would like to see an environmental assessment standard put in place. This percentage rises to 72% in the Montréal census metropolitan area (CMA).

Energy performance

The survey shows that the energy performance of a home is the most important criterion for measuring the environmental impact of real estate. This criterion is cited almost twice as often as the quality of materials (in 2nd place), the reduction of travel distances and the preservation of natural environments (tied for 3rd place). The 55+ age group is more sensitive to energy performance than the 18-34 age group.

Premium for a greener home

When asked if they would be willing to pay a premium for a greener home, 56% of homeowners and future homebuyers said yes. However, this is a conditional yes, with 31% paying a premium if there were other savings to offset the additional cost and 18% if the higher price was associated with a higher resale value. Only 7% would be prepared to pay more unconditionally, a percentage that rises to 10% among 18-34 year-olds. At 50%, 35-54 year-olds are the least enthusiastic about paying a premium for a green home. Those who are reluctant to pay more might be persuaded to do so if the home was shown to be cheaper to live in and maintain or if a purchase subsidy was available.

Environmental impact of housing: renters' perspective

When choosing a place to live, renters are less concerned by the environmental impact of the home, with only 56 % saying that it affects their decision, compared to 63% in 2021. Just 30% say they have enough information to assess the environmental impact. As with homeowners and future homebuyers, renters consider energy consumption to be the most important measure of a home's impact on the environment. The second most important criterion is a location that facilitates active transportation. Fifty-four percent of renters would be willing to pay a premium for greener housing. As with homeowners, however, the majority expect this premium to be offset by savings. Just 6% of renters would pay a premium unconditionally. Those who do not want to pay a higher rent for green housing would do so if they received a subsidy to reduce the rent or if it was demonstrated that such housing is cheaper to live in and maintain.

"This year's survey confirms that people need more information to make better environmental decisions when buying or renting a home. The Fonds immobilier de solidarité FTQ is committed to ESG (environmental, social and governance) in order to promote environmentally responsible projects and reduce the environmental impact of real estate development. We all have an influential role to play in the real estate sector to demonstrate the benefits of sustainable buildings. With the right tools, people can make informed decisions that will benefit the environment, our communities and future generations."

Martin Raymond,
Senior Vice-President, Real Estate Investments, Fonds immobilier de solidarité FTQ

HOME-BUYING INTENTIONS

Purchase intentions are down slightly, but the proportion of buyers aiming for a rental or vacation property is up.

The effects of the overheating housing market, where prices peaked in 2022, combined with rising interest rates, are reflected in purchases, which dropped from 56% to 47% this past year. Households have been less active in 2022, with 20% of them acquiring a property in the last 5 years. The survey confirms the rise in prices, as 30% of households reported paying more than $350,000 for a property, compared to 26% of households in 2021. Rising interest are now ingrained in the public's mind and reduced buying intentions from 23% in 2021 to 21% this year. The decrease is most prevalent among 18-34 year-olds, where they declined from 47% to 45% in one year. On average, Quebecers intend to pay about $405,000 for a principal residence. Among experienced buyers, the average increases to $457,000. Compared to the last two years, it is fair to say that Quebecers have significantly increased their estimated purchase price (about +$28,000).

Households that have purchased in the past five years remain financially solid. As in 2021, 88% obtained their mortgages the first time they applied. More buyers chose a term of 25 years or more (81% in 2022 versus 75% in 2021), and 81% of mortgages are fixed rate. Eighty-two percent of households report being comfortable with their debt levels. As was the case last year, 77% of buyers have enough savings to pay the mortgage for two months.

The single-family home is still the most popular, with 79% of future homebuyers aspiring to own this type of housing.

"The rapid market slowdown precipitated by the unexpectedly large increase in interest rates has resulted in a more cautious attitude among buyers, particularly in the younger age groups, who are primarily interested in a primary residence. However, this is not the case with the older age groups, who are often experienced buyers, who have been homeowners for many years and who are generally less affected by debt issues. This explains the maintenance, if not the increase in the proportion of buyers who are more opportunistic and looking to acquire a vacation home and/or a rental property."

Charles Brant,
Director of the QPAREB's Market Analysis Department

Renters for longer

This year's survey reveals that 59% of tenants have been living in their apartment for more than three years, an increase of 9% from 2020. Thirty-three percent reported paying less than $700 per month in 2022, compared to 41% in 2020. The respondents' monthly rent is $902 on average in 2022. At $977, the average rent is highest in the Montréal CMA. The Québec City CMA falls in the middle at $902 while the rest of Québec is at $766.

"The data reported in this survey, combined with the low vacancy rates in several regions, underscore the importance of considering these facts before deciding to end a lease or move. People need to consider and analyze different residential options in order to make more informed decisions in this regard."

Claude Foster,
President and CEO, Société d'habitation du Québec

REMOTE WORK

Work-from-home is growing in popularity.

In Québec as a whole, one-third of workers report having worked from home. Thirty-eight percent now want to work from home 5 days a week (compared to 30% in 2021) while 22% would like to do so 3 days a week, and 84% of teleworkers want to continue with this arrangement, an increase of 7 percentage points since 2021. The reduction in commuting time (54% say they save more than an hour of commuting time per day) and the cost savings (about $127/month) are helping make this arrangement commonplace. More people say that telecommuting will have an impact on their housing choices (36% in 2022 vs. 32% in 2021). More people see remote work as an opportunity to move to a more affordable location.

About the Service de l'habitation de la Ville de Montréal

The mission of the Service de l'habitation is to support and accelerate balanced residential development in Montréal, improve the habitat and respond to urban issues by taking strategic action around built heritage and territory.

About the Fonds immobilier de solidarité FTQ

The Fonds immobilier de solidarité FTQ has been helping to drive economic growth and employment in Québec for over 30 years by strategically investing in profitable and socially responsible real estate projects in partnership with other industry leaders. It backs residential, office, commercial, institutional and industrial projects of all sizes across Québec. As of June 30, 2022, the Fonds immobilier had 47 projects worth $4.9 billion in development or construction of which the latter will ultimately create 29,000 jobs, 65 portfolio properties under management, 1.8 million square feet of land for development and a cumulative total of $181 million invested in affordable, social and community housing. The Fonds immobilier is a member of the Canada Green Building Council — Québec division.

About the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers

The Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers (QPAREB) is a non-profit association that brings together more than 14,000 real estate brokers and agencies. Its mission is to promote, represent, support and develop the practice of real estate brokerage. The QPAREB is also an important player in many real estate dossiers, including the implementation of measures that promote homeownership. The Association reports on Québec's residential real estate market statistics, provides training, tools and services relating to real estate, and facilitates the collection, dissemination and exchange of information. Headquartered in Québec City, the QPAREB has administrative offices in Montréal and a regional office in Saguenay. It has two subsidiaries: Centris Inc. and the Collège de l'immobilier du Québec. Follow its activities at apciq.ca or via its social media pages:  Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

About the Société d'habitation du Québec

As a leader in housing, the Société d'habitation du Québec (SHQ) works to meet the housing needs of Québec citizens. To do so, it offers affordable and low-rent housing and provides a range of assistance programs to encourage the construction, renovation and adaptation of homes, as well as access to homeownership. In November 2022, the SHQ was assigned responsibility for ensuring the coherence of the government's action in housing. It works in collaboration with the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l'Habitation, the partners and the public organizations already active in the housing sector to meet the needs of the population. To learn more about its activities, visit habitation.gouv.qc.ca.

SOURCE Fonds de solidarité FTQ

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