Over the past year, we’ve heard that young households are the root of the real estate frenzy. In addition to transfer data showing this is not true, Equifax’s mortgage data for the third quarter of 2021 agrees. Most demographics showed little change in their borrowing trends except for the extremes. Households headed by millennials retained their share of mortgages, but a larger share of debt. Senior-headed households increased their share of mortgages, but held a lower share of debt.

Millennials captured more debt, but not mortgages

The explosion of young buyers across Canada? More myth than reality. Households headed by people aged 25 to 34 held 15% of outstanding mortgages in the third quarter of 2021. That’s the number of mortgage accounts, not the dollar balance. The share has remained unchanged for the third quarter since at least 2018. The volume of homes purchased has adapted to the market.

These households hold a larger share of mortgage debt than in previous years. In the third quarter of 2021, these households held 17% of outstanding mortgage loans in dollars. This is up 1 point from the previous year, but a level similar to that before the pandemic.

Average mortgage payments in Canada in the third quarter

The average monthly mortgage payment for existing homeowners, compared to the mortgage payment an average homebuyer has to pay during the quarter.

Source: Equifax; CMHC; Better accommodation.

Between millennials and millennials haven’t seen much change

Canadian homeowners aged 35 to 44 had a stable market share. In the third quarter of 2021, they accounted for 26% of mortgage borrowers, which is the rate going back to 2018. They also owe 30% of outstanding mortgage dollars over the same period. Current trends have little impact on their buying behavior, it seems.

Gen X owners have seen their market share shrink

Households aged 45 to 54 represent a smaller share of the mortgage market than before 2020. In the third quarter of 2021, they represented 25% of mortgage loans, unchanged from the previous year. However, the share was 26% in the third quarter of 2019. A slight decrease for the largest group of mortgage holders in Canada.

Their share of outstanding mortgage balances also declined with mortgage lending. In the third quarter of 2021, these borrowers owed 26% of outstanding mortgage debt in dollars. It is down from 27% a year ago, with a steady share going back to at least 2018. The decline is in line with their declining market share.

Canadians 55 to 64 saw their mortgage share drop

Households between 55 and 64 saw a slight increase in the share of mortgages they held, but it declined. In the third quarter of 2021, they represented 20% of outstanding mortgage loans, down one point compared to the previous year. It’s the same level as in 2019 and 2018, however. Last year appears to have been only a temporary boost.

The temporary boost also had a similar impact on outstanding mortgage debt. In the third quarter of 2021, they owed 17% of outstanding mortgage debt, down one point from the previous year. It was similar to the drop in mortgages, which makes sense. The share is also the same as before the pandemic.

Baby boomers are the only group to increase their share of mortgages

Canadians 65 and over are the only demographic group to have obtained a greater share of mortgages in recent years. In the third quarter of 2021, they represented 12% of mortgage loans, unchanged from the previous year. However, it is up 1 point compared to 2018, which is the only age group to see an increase in the share of outstanding mortgage loans.

There has been an increase in the share of mortgages, but not in the outstanding balance. In the third quarter of 2021, this group owed 8% of outstanding mortgage loans, down one point from the previous year. This is the same share seen in the third quarter of 2019 and 2018, respectively.

The demographics of mortgage borrowers in Canada have changed little for most groups. The average age groups have remained mostly unchanged, evolving with the market. Younger families have retained their market share, but at the cost of increasing debt. Older households have managed to capture a greater share of the mortgage market.

The change might sound a little strange, but it marks a shift in how older Canadians have viewed real estate recently. In our interview with seasoned mortgage broker Ron Butler a few weeks ago, he said he was seeing more “build-up”. That is, households not only pay off their mortgages, but add other mortgages to their holdings. Most people find it difficult to leave the table after winning a jackpot and try their luck at double or none.