Continued low interest rates combined with slowly increasing home prices seem to have left many Canadians unsure what to do, according to a new survey released Thursday.

RBC’s Homeownership Poll revealed that 73 per cent of Canadians say they are unlikely to buy within the next two years, up two per cent from last year’s poll, while at the same time 59 per cent believe that now is the time to get into the housing market. Forty-one per cent felt 2012 would be better.

“There’s a mix of opinions on the housing market, as Canadians still feel confident about real estate but are a little uncertain about where the market is heading and when it makes sense to buy,” said Marcia Moffat, head of home equity financing, RBC. “Considerations such as affordability and available housing choices may be the difference between intent and reality when purchasing a home.”

The poll also found that after four years of sentiment favouring a buyer’s market, the tide appears to be turning. More Canadians surveyed this year feel the current housing market is a seller’s market, in which sellers have the advantage because the number of buyers exceeds the number of homes available (27 per cent, up from 20 per cent in 2011).

Nearly four-in-10 Canadians say it is a buyer’s market, in which buyers have the advantage because the number of houses available exceeds the number of buyers (38 per cent, down two percentage points from a year ago). Fewer believe that the housing market is balanced (36 per cent, down from 40 per cent a year ago).

Consumers’ expectations about home prices and mortgage rates have also undergone a shift. Less than half of Canadians (47 per cent) feel housing prices will be higher this time next year, down five percentage points from last year (52 per cent), while more Canadians expect prices to be stable (30 per cent, up from 27 per cent in 2011).

Nearly half of respondents (46 per cent) expect mortgage rates to stay the same next year, up sharply from 30 per cent in 2011, while significantly fewer anticipate higher rates (41 per cent, down sharply from 60 per cent in 2011).



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