Rarely a day goes by without more news about the challenges a first time home buyer faces trying to own Toronto real estate. The issues seem endless. Everything from escalating rents, real estate prices significantly outpacing salary growth and the gig economy are contributing to the demise of the homeownership dream for a generation. Sadly, solutions are few and far between.

The situation isn’t only impacting how millennials live and save. It’s also impacting how they date and accelerating relationships prematurely. Today, millennials are more likely to swipe right based on a potential date’s home-buying potential than on good looks.

A recent Canadian study commissioned by HSBC, found a whopping 12.7% of respondents said a property-related quality topped their list, compared to just 2.8% who said that appearance was their top consideration when choosing who to date. It’s almost at the point where Tinder should consider adding a mortgage calculator to their app to appeal to all the aspiring first time home buyers out there. Or, maybe the expensive Toronto real estate market has created an opportunity for MLS to expand their services into the dating world.

Rising real estate costs are also prematurely accelerating relationships by causing millennials to move in with their significant others much sooner than they normally would.

To quote one couple: “Our decision was completely reactionary. We get along well and really like each other, so we were pretty confident things would be cool if we moved in. It certainly wasn’t the romantic decision I always thought it would be though. We moved in together before we had even said we love each other. Neither of us would have considered taking the plunge this soon if we didn’t have to. Now, I’ve got my fingers crossed that it will work out.”

Beyond accelerating this big decision before relationships are really at the “moving-in-together stage”, the situation also creates added stress and a number of legal and financial issues for couples early in their relationships.

If crossing fingers and hoping for the best doesn’t ultimately work out, and the relationship ends, splitting assets, savings, properties and debt can be challenging and costly.

The high costs of renting and owning your home are also leading to Canadians staying in bad relationships. The HSBC study found 16% of millennials have stayed in bad relationships because the real estate was just too good to lose.

Sadly, the problem isn’t going away in global cities like Toronto. A 2019 study by LowestRates reported that the average millennial needs to make a minimum of $49,545 a year — $3,214.39 a month — to survive in Toronto. And it’s increasing rapidly. The monthly “survival fee” for living in Toronto has increased by $865 since 2017. It is on track to increase by another $400 this year. Now, imagine being a woman and add pay inequity to the mix. Canadian women still only earn $0.87 for every dollar made by men, which makes living and owning a home in Toronto even more difficult.

Millennials who have successfully saved and qualified for homeownership also experience a common regret. Underestimating the costs of owning and maintaining a home is the #1 frustration for millennial homeowners.

They’re also often surprised by the unexpected fees that come with buying a home, which can be 2 to 5% of the home price and include insurance, property taxes and closing costs.

Clearly new solutions are needed and companies and governments are looking for ways to address the situation. Co-living and shared equity options are becoming more popular but involve compromises. As long as millennials don’t mind sharing their home and equity, they have compatible lifestyles and design tastes, and they haven’t outgrown living with roommates, these options can be good alternatives. They still require millennials to qualify for a mortgage though.

Call us romantics but we think love should come before the decision to move in together. We also don’t think anyone should feel trapped in a bad relationship because of real estate. That’s one reason why Key is passionate about making homeownership accessible for millennials years earlier. With our approach, there’s no need to sacrifice freedom or prematurely accelerate relationships to the “moving-in-together stage”.

Our innovative solution also saves aspiring home owners from needing to qualify for a mortgage, which is especially challenging if you’re part of the growing gig economy. Plus, our model removes many of the typical buying and selling costs and prevents owner-residents from the #1 frustration of underestimating costs that millennial home owners experience.

We’re launching in our home market of Toronto this year. The high demand and positive response from first time home owners have been inspiring.

It’s a great way for millennials to stay in control of who they live with. It can also save them from making a big relationship decision before they’re truly at the “move-in-together stage”.