The Income Group You Need to Be in to Buy a Home in these Canadian Cities


Looking to purchase a home in one of Canada’s biggest cities? You’ll need to be among the highest echelon of income earners to do so in the most competitive markets, according to new data from Zoocasa.

The numbers reveal that only those within the top 10% income group can afford to buy houses for sale in Toronto at a benchmark price of $873,100, while Vancouver buyers must be at least within the top 2.5% tier to buy one at the city’s benchmark of $1,441,000.

The study, which analyzed how much income prospective buyers would need to afford the benchmark home in their city, calculated the minimum income required to qualify for a mortgage in 13 census metropolitan areas (CMAs) across Canada, assuming a 20% down payment, 3.75% mortgage rate, and 30-year amortization. The affordability findings were then cross referenced with income tax filings as reported by Statistics Canada to determine which income group buyers must align with in order to afford local real estate. Benchmark home prices were sourced from the Canadian Real Estate Association and local real estate boards.

Even Apartments Out of Reach for Bottom 75% in Largest Markets

While it may not come as a surprise that affording a single-family house is limited to the highest-income percentiles in the biggest cities, the numbers show even entry-level housing is out of reach for many in those markets. Vancouver and Toronto apartment buyers must still have an income within the top 25% in order to swing the benchmark unit price of $656,900 and $522,300, respectively.

Prairie Markets Offer Greatest Affordability

However, while the study revealed just how high the minimum income thresholds are in these urban centres, it also underscored the comparable affordability in the prairie markets. Affording a house is feasible for those within the top 75% income group in Regina, as the benchmark property costs $275,900. Saskatoon and Winnipeg are both nearly as affordable, as buyers with incomes in the top 50% can afford houses priced at $301,900 and $326,433, respectively.

Apartment purchasers will enjoy even greater affordability in those cities, with units in all three accessible to the top 75% income group at benchmark prices of $160,200, $170,800, and 227,538.

MLS listings in Edmonton and Calgary are also an option for buyers seeking affordability, with those within the top 50% able to afford a house, and those within the top 75% able to afford an apartment.

Check out the infographics below to see which income tier buyers must be in to afford houses and apartments across Canada:

Income Group Threshold Values

For reference, the table below shows the threshold values for each income group. The threshold value is the minimum income needed to be in each income group.

Income groups and the associated thresholds values were sourced from Statistics Canada.

CMATop 75%Top 50%Top 25%Top 10%Top 5%Top 2.5%Top 1%
Vancouver, BC$14,800$32,500$60,400$95,600$126,800$168,500$251,600
Toronto, ON$14,700$31,600$61,400$99,100$132,600$183,300$288,900
Victoria, BC$19,000$38,400$63,800$93,800$120,300$154,200$218,100
Hamilton, ON$17,800$36,000$63,800$97,900$126,000$167,400$243,400
Kitchener-Waterloo, ON$17,900$36,400$62,700$95,600$121,200$157,300$226,200
Calgary, AB$19,100$40,500$74,800$121,000$169,000$231,400$354,000
Ottawa-Gatineau, ON/QC$19,100$42,100$72,500$104,300$130,500$163,500$227,900
London, ON$17,300$34,800$59,500$91,200$112,700$146,100$206,600
Montréal, QC$17,000$32,600$56,400$86,100$111,900$147,800$223,000
Edmonton, AB$19,900$41,300$73,000$111,300$142,900$182,000$245,600
Winnipeg, MB$17,700$35,300$58,700$88,200$110,800$140,600$203,400
Saskatoon, SK$19,800$39,900$67,500$101,900$130,000$165,600$223,200
Regina, SK$21,200$42,600$71,100$104,700$132,500$165,600$227,600

Methodology

Income groups by census metropolitan area (CMA) are based on tax filings and were sourced from Statistics Canada.

Income refers to total pre-tax income from earnings, investments, pensions, spousal support payments, other taxable income plus government transfers and refundable tax credits.

Benchmark single-family house and apartment prices for all areas were sourced from the Canadian Real Estate Association except Kitchener-Waterloo, London and Winnipeg, where average house and apartment prices were used and sourced from the each region’s local real estate board.

The minimum income required to afford each home price assumes a 20% down payment, a mortgage rate of 3.75% and a 30-year amortization and was calculated using the Ratehub mortgage calculator (https://www.ratehub.ca/mortgage-affordability-calculator). The calculation does not factor in carrying costs such as property taxes and heating.

About Zoocasa

Zoocasa.com is a tech-driven brokerage that empowers Canadians to make more informed real estate decisions. Our proprietary home search tools and streamlined agent experience make buying and selling homes smarter, faster and more successful. Home buyers can browse real estate listings on the website or the free real estate iOS app.

For more information about this report or to set up a media interview, please email [email protected]

About Penelope Graham

Penelope Graham is the Managing Editor at Zoocasa, and has over a decade of experience covering real estate, mortgage, and personal finance topics. Her commentary on the housing market is frequently featured on both national and local media outlets including BNN Bloomberg, CBC, The Toronto Star, National Post, and The Huffington Post. When not keeping an eye on Toronto's hot housing market, she can be found brunching in one of the city's many vibrant neighbourhoods, travelling abroad, or in the dance studio.