The majority of Canadians, at 77 per cent, indicated their home is an investment rather than an expense, according to a new Scotiabank poll conducted by Harris/Decima.
And residents of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, at 80 per cent, led Canadians in sharing the belief that a home is an investment.
The investment may extend beyond retirement for some. Among those mortgage holders not yet retired, one-third said they will likely still have their mortgage when they retire.
But Canadians are eager to leave their mortgages behind, with almost three-quarters of mortgage holders taking at least one step to becoming mortgage-free faster.
Mortgage holders in Manitoba and Saskatchewan (75 per cent) are more likely than those in Atlantic Canada (53 per cent) and Quebec (54 per cent) to indicate they can make additional mortgage payments.
As well, 35 per cent of Manitoba and Saskatchewan homeowners do not have a mortgage.
When it comes to mortgage-mindset, Canadians are thinking in the right direction:
• Two-thirds (69 per cent) of Canadians report owning a home. For Canadian homeowners, 40 per cent are living mortgage-free.
• The majority (81 per cent) of Canadians agree it is important to become mortgage-free as soon as possible.
• The most common step Canadians are taking to pay off their mortgage faster is to increase the frequency of their regular payments (29 per cent).
• One-third of Canadians (34 per cent) say they will be relying on their home equity to support them in retirement.
“What I want Canadians, who are feeling a little overwhelmed in paying off their mortgages to know, is that paying off their mortgage is totally achievable, and the great news is that a number of Canadians who were in the same position have reached the goal of being mortgage-free,” said David Stafford, managing director of Real Estate Secured Lending at Scotiabank.
“With rates at historic lows, there’s never been a better time to take years off your mortgage,” he added.
Canadian homeowners over 55 are the most likely to currently be mortgage-free.
Women are more likely than men to be renting their home (30 per cent of women vs. 24 per cent of men).
Those who are between the ages of 35 and 54 are the most likely to say they are relying on their home equity to support their retirement (41 per cent).
Male mortgage holders are more likely to be able to make additional mortgage payments (70 per cent vs. 51 per cent of women).
Among Canadians who don’t own a home, 12 per cent plan on purchasing a home within the next year, according to the Scotiabank poll.
For some of those wanting to own a home, there have been mortgage rule changes that will effect them more than previous home buyers and mortgage holders, such as the change of the maximum amortization period allowed from 30 to 25 years.
“National activity is likely to remain down from year-ago levels over the fourth quarter of 2012,” said Gregory Klump, the Canadian Real Estate Association’s chief economist. “In the shadow of the latest mortgage rule changes, activity has ratcheted down from higher levels seen during the fourth quarter last year.
“While some first-time home buyers may no longer qualify for mortgage financing under the new rules, it is likely that many others are stepping back and reassessing how much house they can realistically afford, which is one of the things new mortgage rules were designed to do.”