Which province has the highest mortgage debt?

Canadian investors and homebuyers are increasingly taking on more debt in an attempt to afford larger and more expensive homes, but in which province are homeowners particularly indebted?

According to figures from BuzzBuzzHome, British Columbians have racked up mortgage debt faster than they’ve grown home values. In 2012, the average value of a house rose 83.7 per cent over 13 years, to $535,400 – this being before the market went ape.

The amount of mortgage debt taken on by West Coast homeowners, however, increased more than 132 per cent over the same period to $241,800, or 45.2 per cent of the value of the home.

“Any time mortgage debt increases it’s concerning,” said Blair Anderson, the broker of record for Promise First Realty in Toronto. “Is it surprising? No. But concerning, yes. Mortgage debt is killing people more than any other kind of debt.”

Still, Anderson said most consumers aren’t stretching themselves too thinly.

“Each individual situation is separate, but I do make people aware that, just because they’re pre-approved for $500,000, it doesn’t mean they should buy a $500,000 house.”

In some provinces, though, it seems the majority of homebuyers are growing their mortgages at a steadier pace. In Manitoba, for instance, housing values rose 109.2 per cent, but mortgage debt increased just 91.4 per cent.

Similarly, in Ontario, home prices increased 64.1 per cent, but mortgage debt increased by 49.3 per cent.

What it really comes down to, said Anderson, is an individual’s ability to afford a property.

“If you can’t save five per cent for a down payment, you have no business buying a house,” he added. “I don’t want my clients to run into a situation where they have to get rid of the house. It’s not good for the market or for them as individuals.”

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