Millennials emerge as a bulwark against Canada housing bust

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Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver have seen the biggest net inflow of millennials in 12 years, a key reason demand for housing is expected to remain strong, despite spiraling costs, according to Royal Bank of Canada.

The population of 20- to 34-year-olds swelled by 96,000 in the three cities last year, the bulk of them from abroad, Robert Hogue, an economist at the Toronto-based bank said in a report Thursday. Indeed, for every millennial that left the country's biggest cities for cheaper digs elsewhere, they collectively gained seven to 12 millennials from abroad or other parts of the country.

Millennials are flocking to the cities for their thriving economies and cultural scenes. Canada's also instituted a fast-track visa program for high-skilled workers and has seen a surge in international students to the country.

"Housing demand isn't at risk of falling anytime soon," Hogue said. "What could fall, however, is the rate of young households who own a home. High housing prices set an impossibly high bar to clear for many millennials to become homeowners in a big city. Expect a greater proportion of them to rent in the future."

That theme was underscored by a separate report Thursday by real estate website Zoocasa. It found that only the top 10% of income earners in Toronto can afford to buy a house and in Vancouver only the top 2.5%.

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