Canadian homes growing in size, becoming less affordable

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Low interest rates have fueled increased housing demand among consumers during the past year, and one expert who's tracked real estate for decades says Canadians are infatuated with home ownership.

According to a Globe and Mail report, industry expert Ben Rabidoux has been trying to warn Canadians about several issues in the nation's real estate market through his website TheEconomicAnalyst.com, which includes graphs and housing statistics.

The report said the average size of a home was 1,050 square feet in 1975, but in 2010 the average home under construction was 1,950 square feet. Despite building larger estates, the average number of residents in a household declined from 3.5 in 1971 to 2.5 in 2006.

Meanwhile, housing has become less affordable during the previous decade. In 1999, the average home price was 3.2 times the average income, but that figure spiked to 5.9 in 2010. With bigger, less affordable homes, many Canadians entering retirement may be forced to downsize to accommodate reduced retirement savings, the source said.

Despite global economic uncertainty, some real estate experts predict low mortgage rates will cause strong housing demand and higher home prices this year. According to a Royal LePage report, the average home value will expand 2.8 percent, with significant increases in Calgary, Regina and Winnipeg.

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