2023 was a year of big ups and downs for real estate buyers and sellers across the country.
According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, Canada’s housing market saw the lowest annual sales volume in over 10 years, with rising interest rates, limited supply and high home prices keeping many would-be buyers on the sidelines.
A recent survey of Canadians’ homebuying sentiment for 2024, however, indicates the tides may be turning as people set their sights on buying a home in the coming year. In fact, nearly one-in-five Canadians are considering buying a home in 2024, according to a Wahi survey of Angus Reid members that gauges whether Canadians are considering purchasing property in 2024.
What’s even more interesting is that young Canadians appear to be the most optimistic about becoming homeowners. The survey points out that those under 35 years of age have the strongest intentions of buying a home in the coming year.
Despite high home prices and increasing interest rates throughout 2023, nearly one-quarter (24 per cent) of Canadians aged 18-34 say they might, or probably will, buy a home this year. This is higher than those aged 45-55 (22 per cent) and 55+ (11 per cent).
A new generation of tech-savvy buyers
The 18-34 age group of potential buyers are comfortable using digital devices, apps and online platforms, and will likely use their technical know-how to find their first home.
Millennials (those born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s) were the first generation to grow up with the internet and computers, while Gen Z (those born between the mid-1990s and and the early 2010s), grew up in a digital age with smartphones, social media and instant access to information.
Whether it’s banking, ordering groceries, or booking a vacation, this cohort is inclined to use whatever apps and tools are at their disposal in various aspects of their lives, including real estate.
From browsing homes, to taking virtual tours, to getting pre-approved for a mortgage and finding the right realtor, every aspect of the homebuying experience can now be done digitally.
Here are three of the latest digital tools that young Canadians can take advantage of for a more personalized and convenient home search experience in 2024.
ChatGPT: Finding homes you like faster
The use of artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing the way people find homes for sale. With personalized recommendations, improved accuracy in property valuations, and now with the use of ChatGPT plug-ins and image filters, finding a home that meets your requirements has never been easier or faster.
ChatGPT users can now find homes that meet their specific criteria through a plug-in that turns a property search into a conversation in a matter of seconds.
For example, ask ChatGTP “Can you help me find condos for under $700,000 in the neighbourhood of Old Ottawa South?” and the plug-in will pull listings curated to meet your criteria. You can get even more specific by requesting listings for properties near public transit or with parking spaces, too.
The tool also allows property searchers to view listings in their preferred language, making real estate more accessible to consumers whose preferred language is not English.
Generative AI: Filtering images to match your search criteria
Generative AI is now being used to filter properties for sale using images.
Traditional real estate searches require users to browse through hundreds of listings, each with 10 to 20 photos (i.e., thousands of photos) to find the design aesthetic they are seeking.
Generative AI enhances the home search experience by allowing consumers to search for properties using an image-based filter. By using generative AI to annotate images in real estate listings using descriptive tags and labels, consumers can filter for properties that match their preferences.
For example, homebuyers can search for homes by using search terms that relate to the characteristics of an image, such as “renovated kitchen” or “finished basement,” to find listings that include those attributes. Properties that match their search criteria are then prioritized to offer personalized listings that include the features they are looking for.
Value estimator: A more accurate value on homes you’re searching
When searching for a home, home value estimates can help determine if a home is overpriced and what a reasonable offer would be to avoid overpaying. Automated property valuation can help inform your bidding strategy by comparing the list price against a home's estimated value.
Integrating sophisticated machine learning techniques, home value estimators analyze key features, including market shifts. This unique approach enhances the model’s precision, ensuring accurate and reliable property value estimates tailored to dynamic market conditions.
These tools are constantly improving as the algorithms continually learn and thereby become more accurate at predicting real time values.
While this younger cohort of homebuyers may have a stronger desire to rely on technology than preceding generations, they often still prefer human guidance and expertise to augment the technology.
Ultimately, it’s the combination of a digital approach to buying a home and human ability that will help this generation find the homes they want faster.
Benjy Katchen is the CEO of Wahi, a digital real estate platform that redefines real estate by giving control back to Canadians, including access to market data, agent-level insights on the latest listings, and the ability to match consumers with top realtors in their area.