Canada

Canadians Asking Google “Should I Buy A House?” Is Now Surging

Canadian homebuyers are soul searching, and asking a higher power for advice — Google. Google has seen a surge of search activity for the question, “Should I buy a house?” The question peaked in activity in April, the month after record home sales. It made an abrupt drop the next month, after home sales fell from the record high. Preliminary June data shows people are once again asking the question at a very high rate.

Canadians Are Asking, “Should I Buy A House?” 

There was a sudden surge in the number of Canadians asking, “should I buy a house?” last month. The preliminary index score is 59 for June, almost double the 33 index score seen in May. When the index hits 100, it means Google activity for the term has reached a record high, or “breakout.” June obviously isn’t over yet, so it can fall back down to reality. However, it’s most likely much higher than the lull seen in May.

Canadians Searching “Should I Buy A House?”

The indexed score of the popularity for the search term “should I buy a house?” in Canada.

Source: Google; Better Dwelling.

If the search term doesn’t come back down to reality, it would be the highest level of interest since April 2021. Before 2021, the index hadn’t seen this level of search for the topic since September 2019.

Does It Mean Anything For Sales?

The two appear to be related, but not in the way you may have expected. An increase in the search term has been followed by tapering home sales shortly after. It tends to mark the peak of activity, right before sales fall. One exception being in 2020, where searches fell as sales increased, at the start of the pandemic. A non-market event such as government stimulus leads to non-market behavior though. 

Canadian Home Sales Compared To Buyer Searches

The number of homes sold through the Canadian MLS, compared to the index of people in Canada searching “Should I buy a House?”.

Source: CREA; Google; Better Dwelling.

The takeaway? There’s a surge in people wondering if they should buy a home across Canada right now. How long it takes them to buy after that query appears, to be more of a mystery though. Most likely people are seeing everyone else buy a home, and then wonder if they should be doing the same.  

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16 Comments

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  • Ethan 3 months ago

    Alexa, should I buy a house?

    “Hm… can you afford a house?”

    Alexa, cancel.

  • GTA Landlord 3 months ago

    I wonder how many of these people are existing buyers looking to upgrade vs new home buyers looking to purchase for the first time.

  • Trader Jim 3 months ago

    It would make sense since the average person hops on a trend after the general public.

    You don’t really think about it until you see everyone else do it. Most likely people look at a house at this point, and then start their home buying journey when they save enough.

    • Jason Chau 3 months ago

      Time to save and purchase is a good point. In 2012, you probably searched and looked at a few homes. Decided you would buy, and saved a downpayment in 3-5 years. Today you need to save a lot longer, so “I should buy a house” turns into the decision to save for 10 or so years.

      Google’s still relatively new, so the trend isn’t great for showing this year, but I’m guessing In 10 years, this data is going to be really interesting for modeling behavior.

  • RB 3 months ago

    Great report. I’m really liking all of the sentiment stuff from the UBC real estate data science stuff too. We need you back in equities. Come back to the dark side. haha.

  • Vincent Fornelli 3 months ago

    This is why home prices are going to CONTINUE to rise. Demand for housing will always be there, and it’s an aspirational product. No one buying a house thinks it’s going to go down in value. It may fluctuate, but you can’t break the expectation. Especially now that the government has set the standard they’ll bail everyone out during a recession.

    • Pete 3 months ago

      Very manic to the point it becomes delusional. Looking back to 1989 a lot of buyers were manic and end up loosing 30-40% 2-3 years later. Income to shelter ratio in Canada became radical.
      WELCOME to the slavery of modern days!

    • Pete 3 months ago

      Canadians, most of them are in slavery because of housing prices and greed ( buying 2-3 houses) working 2-3 jobs. Its a national trend.

    • Bj 3 months ago

      Everyone is looking at rising inflation and thinking it might increase rates. Sure, it probably will. Fixed rate mortgages a year from now will be at a higher rate. But inflation hurts housing in a different way. Housing is not inelastic like food and other essentials. So if your prices are rising on essentials where is that going to come out off, obviously from the biggest monthly cost on your balance sheet – mortgage costs. People will just have to sell and rent or downsize because the income pie isn’t going to get bigger, its just got to come from somewhere. And refinancing isn’t always the answer especially when you have to lock in at a higher rate now. One way or the other housing prices are finished increasing, buckle up the ride down is going to be bumpy!

    • RM 3 months ago

      You obviously didn’t know anyone in the US in the late 2000s.

    • WS 3 months ago

      “This is why home prices are going to CONTINUE to rise”

      Yes, prices will continue to rise until they crash.
      The basic market correction mechanisms have been suppressed, so the gradual price adjustments of supply and demand, affordability, etc have not been at play.
      You would need a roaring economy with negative interest rates, and no inflation for many years for this bubble to be sustained.
      The politicians can suspend reality, but not for ever.
      Tick Tock, Tick Tock

    • Alessandro 3 months ago

      Or anyone in Japan in the early 90s

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