How Unaffordable is the Metro Vancouver Housing Market? [Report]

Real estate affordability continues to be a hot-button issue for home buyers in Canada’s most expensive markets – but whether or not a home is financially feasible goes beyond a low average home price. For a region to truly be considered affordable, home prices must also be in line with the incomes earned by local residents – a very tall order in markets like Vancouver, where starter houses have well surpassed the $1-million mark.

In fact, according to new data compiled by Zoocasa, there isn’t a single market across Metro Vancouver where a household earning the median income can afford houses for sale – and only seven where they could purchase a strata apartment.

A Severe Income Gap Across the Metro Vancouver Region

To assess home buyer affordability across the Metro Vancouver region, Zoocasa analyzed the benchmark detached house and apartment prices, as well as the minimum income required to purchase and carry such a property, in 21 markets. This required income was then compared to the actual median household incomes in each region, which were sourced from Statistics Canada, highlighting the income gap that exists between current home values and incomes.

For buyers who aspire to own a detached house, this gap is staggering, even in the most affordable Vancouver MLS markets; for example, a Maple Ridge household that earns the median of $86,178 would still be $35,602 short for a detached house purchase. In Metro Vancouver’s most expensive market, Vancouver West, this gap is a gargantuan $384,965.

However, those who wish to purchase an apartment on a median income do have some options to choose from. Check out the infographics below to see which Metro Vancouver markets are the most (and least) aligned with incomes for both apartments and detached homes.

Benchmark apartment and detached house prices for each region were sourced from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver and Fraser Valley Real Estate Board for August 2018. The income required to afford a benchmark detached home assumes a 20% down payment and assumes heating costs of $100/month. The income required to afford an apartment assumes a 20% down payment, heating costs of $50/month and condo fees of $250/month.

metro-vancouver-housing-affordability-income-gap-detached-house

Top 5 Least Affordable Metro Vancouver Markets for Detached Homes

1 – Vancouver West
Benchmark Price: $3,278,500
Minimum Required Income: $450,292
Actual Median Income: $65,327
Income Gap: $384,965

2 – West Vancouver
Benchmark Price: $2,832,600
Minimum Required Income: $389,468
Actual Median Income: $89,808
Income Gap: $299,660

3 – Richmond
Benchmark Price: $1,669,900
Minimum Required Income: $230,866
Actual Median Income: $57,779
Income Gap: $173,087

4 – North Vancouver
Benchmark Price: $1,649,700
Minimum Required Income: $228,110
Actual Median Income: $67,119
Income Gap: $160,991

5 – Burnaby South
Benchmark Price: $1,621,000
Minimum Required Income: $224,195
Actual Median Income: $64,737
Income Gap: $159,458

Top 5 Most Affordable Metro Vancouver Markets for Detached Homes

1 – Maple Ridge
Benchmark Price: $870,200
Minimum Required Income: $121,780
Actual Median Income: $86,178
Income Gap: $35,602

2 – North Delta
Benchmark Price: $949,900
Minimum Required Income: $132,652
Actual Median Income: $92,300
Income Gap: $40,352

3 – Pitt Meadows
Benchmark Price: $941,500
Minimum Required Income: $131,506
Actual Median Income: $86,912
Income Gap: $44,594

4 – Bowen Island
Benchmark Price: $984,800
Minimum Required Income: $137,548
Actual Median Income: $89,856
Income Gap: $47,692

5 – Ladner
Benchmark Price: $1,010,200
Minimum Required Income: $140,877
Actual Median Income: $90,709
Income Gap: $50,168

metro-vancouver-housing-affordability-income-gap-apartment

Top 5 Least Affordable Metro Vancouver Markets for Apartments

1 – West Vancouver
Benchmark Price: $1,190,200
Minimum Required Income: $167,738
Actual Median Income: $89,808
Income Gap: $77,930

2 – Vancouver West
Benchmark Price: $825,000
Minimum Required Income: $117,922
Actual Median Income: $65,327
Income Gap: $52,292

3 – Burnaby East
Benchmark Price: $782,800
Minimum Required Income: $112,165
Actual Median Income: $64,737
Income Gap: $47,428

4 – Richmond
Benchmark Price: $685,500
Minimum Required Income: $98,892
Actual Median Income: $57,779
Income Gap: $41,113

5 – Burnaby South
Benchmark Price: $717,800
Minimum Required Income: $103,298
Actual Median Income: $64,737
Income Gap: $38,561

Top 5 Most Affordable Metro Vancouver Markets for Apartments

1 – Maple Ridge
Benchmark Price: $374,200
Minimum Required Income: $56,428
Actual Median Income: $86,178
Income Surplus: $29,750

2 – North Delta
Benchmark Price: $432,400
Minimum Required Income: $64,638
Actual Median Income: $92,300
Income Surplus: $27,662

3 – Ladner
Benchmark Price: $470,700
Minimum Required Income: $69,592
Actual Median Income: $90,709
Income Surplus: $21,117

4 – Port Coquitlam
Benchmark Price: $471,700
Minimum Required Income: $69,782
Actual Median Income: $84,096
Income Surplus: $14,361

5– North Surrey
Benchmark Price: $433,100
Minimum Required Income: $64,463
Actual Median Income: $77,494
Income Surplus: $13,031

About Penelope Graham

Penelope Graham is the Managing Editor at Zoocasa. A born-and-bred Torontonian and quintessential millennial, she has over a decade of experience covering real estate, lifestyle and personal finance topics. 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. Find her on Twitter at @pjeg14.