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One in nine Canadian households is in the market to buy a home now Canadians are an optimistic lot.

A new Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) survey says that one in nine Canadian households is in the market to buy a home in 2001, and seven per cent of households are ready to buy now. Another survey says the average Canadian believes he'll move into his "dream home" by the time he's 45 years old.

CMHC's Consumer Intentions to Buy survey asked potential home buyers in five cities across the country -- Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax -- if they plan to buy a home this year. Across the five cities, an average of 12 per cent of all households, representing almost 600,000 households -- said yes.

Demand is strongest in Calgary and Toronto.

Of the 12 per cent of households who intend to purchase a home in the next year, seven per cent are defined as ready to buy now, and five per cent are "looking to buy", the survey says. Those defined as ready to buy have engaged in specific pre-purchase activities such as arranging a pre-approved mortgage, speaking to a broker and visiting homes for sale. Those in the "looking to buy" category also say they are going to buy a home within the next year, but have yet to do anything to achieve their goal.

Renters make up two-thirds of those intending to purchase a home, indicating that a lot of first-time buyers continue to fuel the housing market. Across the five centres, 56 per cent of those intending to buy have household incomes in the $40,000 to $80,000 range. Close to two-thirds of the potential home buyer households do not have children, and 19 per cent are singles.

Almost three-quarters of the purchase intenders plan to buy a single detached home. The average Canadian's dream home has a pleasant garden, a modern kitchen and is family-oriented. It's located in the province where they live, and is a personal creation rather than a house the owners have seen in a magazine or at an open house. And three out of 10 Canadians say they are already living in their dream home.

These are some of the findings of a poll conducted for the Royal Bank of Canada by polling company Ipsos Reid.

Half of those surveyed defined their dream home as a "family home", while 21 per cent said their dream home would be "cottage style" and only seven per cent said it would be a "mansion style". Canadians have modest goals for their dream homes. They agree that the home must have a garden (69 per cent) and a state-of-the-art kitchen (67 per cent). Workshops, a forest or ravine lot, and whirlpool bathtubs came next in the list of "must haves", but only 28 per cent of those surveyed cited a home theatre as a "must have". Most Canadians believe dream homes should be custom built (54 per cent) rather than resale purchases (22 per cent) or resales that are then renovated (21 per cent).

Location and neighbourhood are the most important aspects of dream homes, followed by the floor plan of the house, a view or scenery, the style of home and lot size. Eighty-eight per cent of those surveyed said their dream home is located in Canada.

Canadians are optimistic that someday they will live in their dream home. Most say it is "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that they will live in their dream homes before retirement. When asked, "At what age do you expect that you will move into your dream home," the average age was 45. Eight in 10 say they will live in their dream home with their spouse, and 46 per cent say they will have children living with them.

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