National home sales and listings continued to climb in housing markets across the country this August, as some of the pressure from pent-up demand was released this summer when pandemic restrictions eased. Buyers returning to the market did so with refocused housing priorities; a growing number began looking to suburban and rural markets in search of greater square footage relative to what’s available in denser urban centres.
Despite the surge in demand, the Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation (CMHC) recently reiterated their forecast that home prices are likely to dip in the coming months; citing pandemic-induced unemployment and slower in-bound migration weighing on demand, particularly in metropolitan cities like Toronto and Vancouver.
To understand how current home prices compare to the past, Zoocasa used data from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) to highlight trends in benchmark home prices for apartments and single-family houses in 15 Canadian regions over the past 5 years. We highlight the extent to which benchmark home prices grew or contracted in each region, offering a glimpse at regions where housing is more or less affordable today than it was 5 years ago.
Overall, the Canadian benchmark apartment price rose a staggering 52% in 5 years, from $315,600 in August 2015 to $478,700 in August 2020. The benchmark price for single-family houses across Canada rose 40% from $486,800 to $683,400. That being said, a closer look at each area included in our analysis reveals that certain housing markets faced a much higher pace of price growth than others, with others noting benchmark price declines that resulted in housing becoming more affordable today than it was 5 years ago.
Prairie Markets Including Calgary and Edmonton More Affordable Today Than 5 Years Ago
Overall, Prairie cities offer first-time home buyers some of the best affordability in the country, with benchmark prices under $250,000 for apartments and under $500,000 for single-family houses this August. In fact, the Prairies are one of the few regions where a benchmark apartment and single-family house is more affordable today than it was 5 years ago.
In Calgary, Canada’s third most populous city, the benchmark apartment price was $248,500 in August 2020, dropping 14% or $41,900 since 2015. The benchmark single-family house in Calgary is now $466,000, which is 6% or $30,800 cheaper than the price 5 years ago. Similarly, in Edmonton, the benchmark apartment is 17%, or $37,300, cheaper than it was 5 years ago at $183,900 and the benchmark single-family house cost $377,300 in August this year, vs. $396,800 in August 2015, a drop of 5% or $19,500.
Given their proximity to the Canadian Rockies, both Calgary and Edmonton offer good opportunities for buyers with remote-working flexibility seeking greater square footage and green space. Comparatively, the benchmark apartment price in Toronto is nearly double the price of the benchmark apartment in Calgary, and the benchmark single-family house in Toronto is more than double Calgary. Additionally, both Calgary and Edmonton have a much lower population density at approx. 1,900 people per square kilometer in Calgary and 1,400 people per square kilometer in Edmonton versus 4,700 people per square kilometer in Toronto.
Elsewhere in the Prairies, compared to 5 years ago, the benchmark apartment price is 21% lower in Regina ($174,800), 13% lower in Saskatoon ($180,200), and 3% lower in Winnipeg ($196,800). Compared to 5 years ago, single-family house prices are 3% lower in Regina ($286,900) and Saskatoon ($319,400), but up 17% in Winnipeg to $300,500.
Benchmark Apartment Prices Rose Over 50% in 7 Markets Over the Past 5 Years
Of the 15 markets included in our analysis, the benchmark price for apartments rose by more than 50% in 7 markets. Fraser Valley, BC, where the benchmark price increased 104% to $437,300, led the country in terms of the increase in benchmark prices for apartments over the past 5 years.
Fraser Valley was followed by a number of markets in Southern Ontario. Niagara Region led price growth in the area, with the benchmark price growing 87% to $354,400. This was followed by Greater Toronto where the benchmark price rose 78% to $592,900, Hamilton-Burlington where the price rose 74% to $471,100 and Guelph where there was a 73% increase in the benchmark apartment price to $379,000.
This was followed by Victoria, where the benchmark apartment price grew 65% to $504,900 and Greater Vancouver where it rose 63% to $685,800. Although Greater Vancouver didn’t see the highest percentage growth in benchmark apartment price, it experienced the largest increase in dollar amount at +$265,100.
Ottawa and Montreal also saw gains in the benchmark apartment price since five years ago, but at 46% and 35%, respectively.
Benchmark Prices for Single-Family Houses Grew 50% or more in 7 Regions Over the Past 5 Years
7 out of 15 markets included in our analysis also noted a 50% or higher increase in the benchmark price for single-family houses.
Niagara Region experienced the highest growth, with the benchmark price for single-family houses almost doubling, with a staggering 95% increase in 5 years to $490,500. This was followed by Hamilton-Burligton (71%), Guelph (63%), Fraser Valley (62%), Ottawa (53%), Greater Toronto (51%), and Victoria (50%).
Montreal, Greater Vancouver and Winnipeg single-family benchmark prices also rose, but at 46%, 28% and 17% respectively.
Our infographic below maps and compares benchmark prices for apartments and single-family houses for each region included in our analysis in August 2020 and August 2015, noting the extent to which prices changed in each region. Further below, find a list of the top regions where it is cheaper to buy an apartment and a single-family house today than it was 5 years ago, and a list of the regions where benchmark prices for apartments and single-family houses have risen the most since August 2015.
Top 3 Regions Where it’s Cheaper to Purchase the Benchmark Apartment Today vs. 5 Years Ago (Based on %)
Benchmark Apartment Price, August 2020: $174,800
5-Year % Difference: -21%
5-Year $ Difference: -$46,900
Benchmark Apartment Price, August 2020: $183,900
5-Year % Difference: -17%
5-Year $ Difference: -$37,300
3. St. John’s
Benchmark Apartment Price, August 2020: $236,200
5-Year % Difference: -16%
5-Year $ Difference: -$43,700
Top 3 Regions Where it’s Cheaper to Purchase the Benchmark Single-Family House Today vs. 5 Years Ago (Based on %)
Benchmark Single-Family House Price, August 2020: $466,000
5-Year % Difference: -6%
5-Year $ Difference: -$30,800
2. St John’s
Benchmark Single-Family House Price, August 2020: $271,600
5-Year % Difference: -6%
5-Year $ Difference: -$17,600
Benchmark Single-Family House Price, August 2020: $377,300
5-Year % Difference: -5%
5-Year $ Difference: -$19,500
Top 3 Regions Where it’s More Expensive to Purchase the Benchmark Apartment Today vs. 5 Years Ago (Based on %)
1. Fraser Valley
Benchmark Apartment Price, August 2020: $437,300
5-Year % Difference: +104%
5-Year $ Difference: +$223,400
2. Niagara Region
Benchmark Apartment Price, August 2020: $354,400
5-Year % Difference: +87%
5-Year $ Difference: +$165,100
3. Greater Toronto
Benchmark Apartment Price, August 2020: $592,900
5-Year % Difference: +78%
5-Year $ Difference: +$259,800
Top 3 Regions Where it’s More Expensive to Purchase the Benchmark Single-Family House Today vs. 5 Years Ago (Based on %)
1. Niagara Region
Benchmark Single-Family House Price, August 2020: $490,500
5-Year % Difference: +95%
5-Year $ Difference: +$239,300
Benchmark Single-Family House Price, August 2020: $751,300
5-Year % Difference: +71%
5-Year $ Difference: +$311,300
Benchmark Single-Family House Price, August 2020: $651,600
5-Year % Difference: +63%
5-Year $ Difference: +$251,000
Benchmark apartment and benchmark single-family house prices were sourced from the Canadian Real Estate Association.
Data use to calculate population density was sourced from Calgary Economic Development, City of Edmonton and City of Toronto.
Moving into a new home is exciting–it represents a fresh start with new rooms to decorate, and a new neighbourhood to explore. However, setting up your house can also be exhausting and stressful. But don’t worry–we’ve compiled a helpful checklist of things to cross off before you settle in. And if you’re moving to a new city, your REALTOR® is a great resource for advice about tasks to take care of, who to tap for help and how tofind the best schools for your kids.
1. Update your address and transfer utilities
Before you move in, you’ll need to update your address, which is linked to everything from your driver’s license to your health card. Be sure to inform everyone–your bank, insurance company, credit cards and loyalty programs–so you won’t miss important notices. You may also want to set up temporary mail-forwarding with Canada Post. While you’re at it, get in touch with utility companies several weeks before the move, so they can transfer and activate your electricity, gas, telephone and internet accounts over to the new place.
2. Change your locks and codes
Get some peace of mind–who knows how many keys to your house the previous owners gave out–by installing new deadbolts yourself for as little as $30 per lock, or calling a locksmith for about $100 for a service call. Make extra sets of keys for trusted family members or friends, in case you get locked out or need them to check the property when you’re away. Change your garage door and alarm codes, too.
3. Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
Home safety experts recommend checking your home’s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every six months, and changing the batteries then, too. Be sure there’s one on each floor of the house. Many local fire departments offer free inspections and testing, so ask your REALTOR® about this.
4. Get your home squeaky clean
Before moving all your belongings in, take some time to deep clean all the nooks and crannies, or hire a professional to do it for you for about $100. Don’t forget to get your carpets steamed–cleaning services charge about $65 an hour, or you can rent a machine for about $80 and do it yourself. This is also a great time to put on a fresh coat of paint throughout the house and get rid of an lingering pet smells.
5. Get to know your new home’s systems
Becoming a homeowner means understanding how everything works so you can maintain your investment. Know where your property’s HVAC (air conditioning and heating) system, circuit-breaker and main water shut-off valves are located, plus how to turn them on and off in an emergency. It’s a good idea to get your home’s systems inspected (if your home inspector didn’t already do so).
Pro tip: Check your water meter at the beginning and end of a two-hour period during which no water is being used. If the reading changes, you likely have a leak that needs fixing.
6. Make a home maintenance schedule
Your home inspection report might contain suggestions for repairs to carry out, as well as tips for when and how to perform seasonal maintenance checks to your house. Set up a filing system for manuals and instructions, and create a to-do list you can refer to throughout the year. It’s recommended you save about 1% of your home’s purchase price each year for repairs. Since you’ll probably need the services of a plumber, electrician, exterminator or landscaper at some point, research local businesses.
Your REALTOR® can also help you navigate the whole moving process and also recommend reputable tradespeople, so don’t hesitate to reach out so all your questions get answered as you celebrate this new chapter in your life.
When it comes to real estate, the more you spend, the more money everyone makes. And it happens on every level of your home purchase.
The costs start adding up once you find the perfect place. According to the National Association of Realtors, real estate agents get paid by taking a percentage of the purchase price of your home. In other words, the more you spend, the bigger the payday. And the bigger the loan, the higher the closing costs and borrowing fees tend to be – a benefit that goes directly from your pocket to your lender’s.
In case you were wondering, this is why your real estate professional may pay little attention when you tell them you only want to spend X number of dollars on a new home. It’s not that they aren’t professional, or that they don’t care about your financial situation; it’s just that they only stand to benefit if your budget creeps up a few dollars here or there.
And what’s a few thousand dollars between friends?
Budgeting for Your Priorities
I know – I’ve been there. When my husband and I moved to a new town last year, our income qualified us to spend 300% more than we planned. And even though we told our Realtor what our intentions were, it didn’t stop her from suggesting houses outside our comfort zone. In fact, I remember having plenty of conversations about it, and getting advice like this:
“You know, for every $1,000 you spend, your payment will only go up $16.”
“Your kids are getting older – you need a house you can grow into.”
“Interest rates are so low. You can get a lot more house for your money in today’s market.”
In the end, we bought exactly what we wanted, and actually spent less than we planned. And it didn’t end up that way just because we’re cheap; we based our decision on our shared beliefs and goals.
Still, the principles that steered us toward a less expensive home don’t just apply to us; they could apply to your situation, too. There are some really good arguments against borrowing as much as you possibly can. Here are some of them:
What Goes Up Might Come Down
Decades ago, most people believed housing prices would keep climbing for eternity. I remember my mom telling me years ago that, when she and my dad bought their first home, their Realtor pushed them to borrow as much as possible.
“The more you buy, the more appreciation you will see over time,” they were told.
And that notion made sense at the time. After all, land is a limited commodity, and a growing population will always need somewhere to live. Housing prices should go up forever, in theory. The problem? Just because they should doesn’t mean they will stay that way.
In fact, the housing crisis of 2007-08 proved that market corrections are somewhat inevitable. Although some regions remained relatively unscathed, housing prices dropped an average of 30% nationwide. According to Forbes, some of the most overvalued housing markets, such as Las Vegas, saw housing values drop as much as 60% from 2006 to 2011. And other big markets followed suit. For example, the Chicago area witnessed a 40% drop in real estate prices, Detroit endured a 50% correction, and Phoenix saw housing prices plummet as much as 56%.
If you plan on living in your home forever, you may not care how much your new house will be worth. But what if you need to move?
Need an example? Picture this: Two families are shopping for a house in the same neighborhood. Family A drops $400,000 on their dream home, while Family B spends only $200,000. If housing prices drop 20% over the next two years, which family will be better off? (Hint: Family A would lose twice as much equity as Family B — a difference of $80,000!)
Bigger House? Expect Everything to Cost More
But even if housing prices go up, some costs are inevitable. No matter how much house you buy, the sticker price is only one piece of the puzzle. And when you buy a bigger or more expensive home, almost everything costs more.
For example, more space generally means more square footage to heat and cool — in other words, higher utility bills. And nicer, more expensive properties almost always mean higher property taxes and pricier homeowners insurance premiums.
But that’s not all. A bigger house means everything is bigger and more expensive to repair. A bigger roof will cost more than a small one, and the more windows you have, the more expensive it will be to upgrade or replace them. Flooring is typically priced by the square foot, so more carpet and tile will always lead to higher costs. A bigger yard means more landscaping and a longer driveway means more concrete to pour. The list goes on, and all of those additional costs can add up quick.
Kids Need More Than Room: They Need Money
It’s true that kids may benefit from some extra space in the house. They’ll need a place to bring friends when they come over to visit, and it’s always nice when teenagers are able to have their own room.
But you know what’s better? Having money to help your kids through college. Being able to afford a really nice family vacation each year. Having the extra money to pay for the important things your kids will inevitably start asking for as they grow older – fees for school trips, sports, and activities, spending money for weekends, and even their first car.
Buying a house you can easily afford can mean the difference between having extra money for your kid’s changing needs and being house-poor and unable to afford much of anything. That bonus room above the garage might be nice, but not so much when you consider what you had to give up.
Don’t Forget to Save for Everything Else
Speaking of giving things up, the extra money for a bigger house payment has to come from somewhere. By and large, Americans have large houses but tiny bank accounts. According to a recent survey, the average middle-class worker has a median savings of around $20,000 for retirement. Further, a full third of working middle-class adults aren’t contributing anything to retirement at all – not in a 401(k), Roth IRA, or any other retirement savings vehicle.
The poll in question, which was conducted by Harris Poll and included 1,001 middle-class adults ages 25 to 75, also proved we aren’t great at planning ahead. According to results shared in USA Today, around 55% of participants planned to save more for retirement when they’re older to make up for any shortfalls.
If a bad idea ever existed, that would surely be it. Why? Because compound interest needs time to work its magic – and the later you start saving, the less power it will have.
Simply put, if you want to retire one day, you need to start saving today — or maybe yesterday. Not doing so will only cause you grief down the line or delay your retirement altogether. Simply put, when you buy a house that is unaffordable, you will have fewer dollars to sock away for your future self.
Your Mortgage Doesn’t Have to Be Forever
Most people get a 30-year mortgage and pay that monthly payment until the cows come home. Unfortunately, that usually means they never really own a home until the bitter end.
But wait – do people really stay in their homes for 30 years anymore? According to the National Association of Home Builders, the answer is no. In fact, recent data show the average family only stays in their home for around 12 years.
So if you opt for a 30-year-mortgage each time you move, it could easily mean you’ll be making that monthly payment your entire life. Frugal friends, is there anything more depressing than that?
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way, which leads me to the next reason it makes sense to borrow less than you can afford. Obviously, the less you borrow, the faster you may be able to pay it off. And if you buy a house that is on the lower end of your budget, you may even be able to afford the monthly payment on a home loan with a shorter term.
Imagine paying your house off within 15 years and all of the financial freedom that would afford you. Big, expensive houses may have their own set of benefits, but being debt-free will be priceless.
When Life Happens, You’ll Be Prepared
Good health, youth, and job security are often fleeting. In other words, the amazing standard of living you’re experiencing now isn’t guaranteed to last. Further, a study from 2014 showed that as many as 25 million middle-class families are living paycheck to paycheck, meaning they might only be one illness – or one job loss – away from losing it all.
Look at the monthly financial obligations you have and ask yourself how you would meet them if you or your spouse lost your job, got in a debilitating accident, or experienced any other hardship that resulted in a loss of pay. Would you be okay? Could you easily afford your bills? If the answer is no, then you should try to buy even less house than you have now, and certainly not more!
The bottom line: Tragedies happen every day, but if you leave some breathing room in your monthly budget, you will be much more equipped to take them in stride. And if something unfortunate happens to one of you, having a small, manageable payment might mean the difference between keeping your home – and losing everything.
Deciding on a Price Range You Can Live With
Most mortgage companies believe your total debts should make up no more than 36% of your total gross income in any given year. So when they decide how much you qualify to borrow, they use that figure as a guideline. While other liabilities such as car payments, child support, taxes, and insurance can eat into that amount, 36% is still a pretty generous place to start.
The thing is, even the best mortgage lenders don’t know what kind of lifestyle you live. It doesn’t know if you want to help your kids with college, or if you prefer to take two family vacations every year. They’ve never listened to you talk about your dream to retire early and spend your golden years as you wish. To them, you’re just a number on a page. And they’ll be long gone by the time you realize you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.
That’s why it’s up to each of us to decide what we can truly afford to borrow. It’s up to each of us to set a price range we can live with, and not just one we can live with today, but tomorrow, too.
It all boils down to choices; when you spend less than you can afford, you have them, and when you overspend, you don’t. Just remember to look beyond this year, and even this decade, when you make that choice. You might be giving up more than you think.
Hey, home buyers, just how stressed out are you these days?
Maybe you’ve finally come to grips with the crazy, sky’s-the-limit prices still sweeping through most major markets. Perhaps you’ve made peace with the ever-looming threat of another recession. Quite possibly you’ve even dismissed all that stuff about a coronavirus pandemic, and you’re blithely unconcerned about any aftershocks from the upcoming elections.
But when it comes to finding available homes on the market—where and when you want to buy ’em—well, that’s a challenge even the most battle-tested wannabe homeowners are struggling with these days.
And make no mistake: It is a battlefield out there. The problem is, there just aren’t enough homes on the market to satisfy all of the would-be buyers—and that causes prices to spike ever higher in many parts of the country.
Nationally, inventory plunged 13.6% in January compared with a year earlier, representing the biggest drop in more than four years. Few markets have been immune to the plunge. There are now 164,000 fewer homes on the market, the fewest number since 2012, when realtor.com® began collecting the data.
In some of the tightest markets, well-priced homes in the most sought-after locations can sell within a few hours of going up for sale. In others, there are enough properties for sale that buyers don’t need to make a split-second decision and can be choosier.
That’s why our economics team searched for the metropolitan areas where it’s easiest to buy a home—and where it’s not.
“Inventory is falling—even in the easiest markets to buy a home,” says realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale. “For buyers, it means there are fewer options to choose from, they have to make quicker decisions when they’re out there shopping, and they’re probably also dealing with rising prices.”
And while this may sound like a bonanza for sellers, keep in mind that most of them are also in the market to buy a new home. So there’s that.
To come up with our findings, we looked at the number of listings per 1,000 homeowner-occupied households in the 100 largest metros in the fourth quarter of 2019. The analysis was based on the number of homes for sale relative to the local population. And we narrowed our findings to one per state for some geographic variety.
So where can buyers get a home without losing their mind, and where would they want to sign up for meditation and relaxation classes? Let’s dig into the findings—and the trends they’re showing.
At first blush, the metros with the most homes on the market may not seem like they have much in common. But many of the metros in this hodgepodge are in the South, a less expensive part of the U.S. long popular with retirees and second-home seekers. But many of the cities in our rankings have strong economies, drawing younger buyers as well.
You want to buy a home fast? Head to Florida!
Why does the Sunshine State dominate our list of easiest places to buy a house, when nationally the trends are going the other way? After all, on our unfiltered list, Florida takes six of the 20 spots with the highest inventories of homes on the market. (We limited our list to just one metro per state.)
Well, some of it is seasonal: Florida’s busy real estate season kicks off in the fall, when the Northerners and Midwesterners head south. Sunshine State sellers begin planting those “For Sale” signs in the yards and listing their homes in earnest toward the end of the year, unlike the rest of the country, which heats up in the spring and summer.
But it’s also a function of the fact that builders are currently stepping up new construction to meet the greater demands of a tsunami of retiring boomers.
Reasonably priced Cape Coral, a city with about 400 miles of canals on Florida’s southwestern coast making it popular with vacation home buyers and seniors, snagged our top spot. The area has been affected by recent hurricanes and toxic blue-green algae blooms in recent years, which may be why the area has a bit more inventory than other Florida destinations.
“It has a city-suburb feeling,” says longtime Cape Coral real estate agent Nelson Rua, of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate. “We have local mom and pop stores instead of big franchises, and geographically we’re very well-protected by the storms because we have these barrier islands in front of us.”
The metro’s median home list price was $325,050 in January, according to realtor.com data.
While Cape Coral inventory may seem high, at 37.9 properties per 1,000 households, it’s still falling compared with the previous year. And that’s something it has in common with all of the other Florida entries on our larger list (including Miami, Deltona, North Port, and Jacksonville). Lower mortgage interest rates have spurred more buyers to take the plunge, and inventory in Cape Coral actually plunged 22% year over year in January.
Starter and more affordable homes tend to go quick, while the more expensive ones can linger on the market, according to Brad O’Connor, chief economist of the Florida Realtors, the state’s Realtors association.
It’s just easier to find a home in beach and retirement destinations
For many of the same reasons as in Florida, it’s easier to find homes in beach and retirement destinations with strong economies, like Charleston, SC (No. 3), and Virginia Beach, VA (No. 4). South Carolina and Virginia are both tax-friendly states, appealing to those living on fixed incomes, and both have lots of good jobs and are more friendly toward builders.
Charleston has its port, Boeing and Volvo plants, and a thriving tourism industry driving the economy. And its old-world-style cobblestone streets, hanging moss, gorgeous architecture, and renowned food scene may be why buyers are coming up with the metro’s median list price of $422,500. (That’s about 29% more than the national median of $300,000.)
Real estate broker Randy Bazemore, of Century 21 Properties Plus, is seeing lots of 55-and-up buyers moving to the area as well as younger professionals working in the tech industry.
Meanwhile, Virginia Beach has one of the largest military presences in the nation with more than 86,000 active-duty personnel stationed in the area. The median list price there is $310,000.
For well-heeled retirees or second-home buyers, Honolulu (No. 10), with a median list price of $655,050, has plenty of options for sale.
Watch: The 4 Markets Where Homes Are Appreciating Fastest
New construction gives inventory a boost—at least in some places
Lack of new real estate construction in much of the country has been a big problem ever since the housing crash brought everything to a dead stop more than a decade ago. Finally things are picking up again—at least in those markets where permitting is easier, labor is cheaper, and plenty of land is available for builders to put up more homes.
Often, these places also have fewer regulations, which can hold up the process. That’s partly why Las Vegas (No. 5), Des Moines, IA (No, 8), and Houston (No. 9) made the list. Charleston, as well as many of the Florida metros, has also seen a lot of new construction.
In Des Moines, there’s new construction in the suburbs to the north and west of the city, says local associate broker Paul Walter of Re/Max Concepts. But there are also just more folks putting their existing homes up for sale. Those two reasons may be why the metro area saw a 3% bump in inventory, the only one in our top 10 to not be lower in inventory compared with the previous year.
“Homes not being underwater would be the big driver” in the increase in inventory, says Walter.
The other metros that made our top 10 were Bridgeport, CT, at No. 2. The city has more inventory as there’s less demand than in other parts of the country thanks to the state’s shaky economy and high taxes.
Get ready for a shocker: New York City came in at No. 6! That’s because its metro area is so enormous, there are homes for sale in the surrounding suburbs, exurbs, and smaller cities, including on Long Island and in upstate New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
Plus, while there’s basically no such thing as affordable homes for sale in Manhattan, there is a glut of luxury condos sitting on the market waiting for uber-rich buyers with millions of dollars to come around—$1.7 million studio condo, anyone?
OK, now let’s go to the dark side—the metros where you’ll have to jump on new listings the moment they hit your inbox. Get ready!
Buyers are having a tough time in tech cities
No surprise here: The tightest U.S. real estate markets are the ones with blazing hot job markets—and these days that usually means tech hubs. And these places often have pricey real estate to match their blazing economies. There’s a constant influx of new workers, all slugging it out for a very limited supply of housing.
Silicon Valley’s San Jose, CA, which had the fewest homes for sale, is also one of the most expensive markets in the country. There are just four, yes four, listings per 1,000 households. That kind of shortage explains why the median list price is just a hair under $1.1 million. If we hadn’t capped our ranking at just one metro per state, fellow astronomically pricey tech metropolis San Francisco would be close behind.
Unfortunately, not all tech workers make seven- or eight-figure salaries, causing them to search for homes farther and farther out from city centers—and their gigs.
But inventory is likely to rise, at least a little, in the coming months, says Patrick Carlisle, the chief market analyst for the San Francisco Bay Area for Compass. “This market takes a while to wake up from the holidays.”
Part of the problem is homeowners are staying in their properties longer so there isn’t much turnaround, says Carlisle. When they do move out, owners often rent out their properties and pocket the lucrative income instead of putting them on the market. And the lack of new construction is exacerbating the crunch. What is erected often skews luxury, well out of the price ranges of most buyers.
In Seattle, home of the online retailing giant Amazon.com—and No. 3 on our tightest inventory list—a simple equation is responsible for the lack of housing, according to Chris Bajuk, a local real estate agent at HomeStart Real Estate Associates.
“When people have good-paying jobs plus low interest rates, that’s fuel for the fire,” he says.
Plus, there’s not much available land for builders. The city and outlying suburbs are constrained by water, mountains, and zoning rules.
Other tech meccas on our list include Salt Lake City (No. 6), aka Silicon Slopes; Boston (No. 7), a financial, higher education, and tech center; and Washington, DC (No. 9). The real estate market in DC has exploded since Amazon announced it would be installing its second headquarters just outside of the nation’s capital, employing thousands of tech workers.
Inventory is drying up in the Rust Belt’s comeback cities
On the opposite side of the booming, ultraexpensive tech meccas are the Rust Belt cities in the Northeast and Midwest. Some of these urban meccas have been investing in their downtowns and staging comebacks, becoming more appealing to buyers and investors seeking affordable real estate without sacrificing amenities. And many folks want to get in while they still can afford to buy.
The one-time industrial hub of Buffalo, NY, which sits on the Canadian border near Niagara Falls, came in second place. If we didn’t cap our list at just one metro per state, nearby Rochester, NY, would have been next in our rankings.
Buffalo’s revitalization is attracting folks from other parts of the country, says associate real estate broker Ryan Connolly of Re/Max Plus. The Buffalo metro’s median list price was $197,950 in January—about a third less than the national median.
“We are seeing incredibly, incredibly low inventory levels,” says Connolly. The number of homes for sale fell 16% year over year in January, to 6.1 listings per 1,000 households. “It’s really frustrating for buyers.”
That’s leading to multiple offers and folks offering over the asking price on homes in good shape during the busy season. It’s so bad that about a year ago, he saw 23 offers come in on a three-bed, two-bath ranch home in a Buffalo suburb.
“It was a nice home, be we weren’t expecting that,” Connolly says.
Buyers are also clamoring for homes in Columbus, OH, which earned the fifth spot in our ranking. It’s the capital of Ohio and home to Ohio State University and its roughly 45,000 students—buoying it economically. But there simply aren’t enough homes to go around.
“When we had the recession, we didn’t build any new houses. [And] we’re still not building enough homes,” says real estate agent Jeff Cotner of Re/Max One in Pickerington, OH, a Columbus suburb. “The inventory shortage is not going to go anywhere for a while.”
A new report reveals the cities that are seeing the strongest immigration currently; and those that are seeing the most exits.
U-Haul’s migration trends report for 2019 shows that North Vancouver, BC, is the No.1 U-Haul Canadian Growth City, posting the largest net gain of one-way U-Haul trucks entering the city versus leaving it during the past calendar year.
Along with Vancouver, BC has a further three cities on the list: Salmon Arm, Merritt and Victoria.
“Every community in Metro Vancouver feels the pressures associated with regional growth,” stated Michelle Benson, U-Haul Company of Vancouver & Vancouver Island president. “Vancouver is booming, but many people are priced out of the city. That gives North Vancouver the opportunity to attract new residents.”
The number of one-way U-Haul truck rentals arriving in North Vancouver jumped almost 30% from 2018 levels with departures up almost 20%. Arrivals accounted for 55% of all one-way U-Haul traffic through North Vancouver in 2019.
“Vancouver is rated as one of the top cities to live in, so every nearby city is growing,” added Jennifer Anstett, U-Haul Area District Vice President. “North Vancouver is enjoying the trend of people moving toward the West Coast and all it has to offer.”
The rest of the top five are all in Ontario – Trenton, Saint Thomas, Brockville and North Bay – and the province boasts 19 of the top 25 cities.
U-HAUL CANADIAN GROWTH CITIES FOR 2019
* Ranking from Top 25 U-Haul Canadian Growth Cities of 2018 in parentheses, if applicable
Source: Mortgage Broker News – by Steve Randall09 Jan 2020
From 1948 to1970, close to half a million people from the Caribbean were invited to what was commonly referred to as the ‘mother country.’ Arriving as British citizens (despite never living in Britain) is a trait rooted in the legacy of the Empire. Whilst there were many reasons for their arrival in Britain, many were seeking superior opportunities for themselves and their offspring. Early settlers spoke about a five-year plan to save money and return back to the Caribbean. Prohibited to find suitable accommodation, many migrants were confronted with signs such as, ‘No Coloureds or Blacks’, which was routinely used alongside the use of ‘No Irish and Dogs.’
Where Caribbean’s were permitted to rent, the standards and conditions of the dwellings were typically unsavoury. Consequently, there was a determination to purchase one’s own properties using a system popularly known as pardner, which involves the collaborating of resources to provide access to funds. This system was particularly useful when banks would not loan to black people. Early settlers from the Caribbean owned houses in what are now some of the wealthiest locations in Europe, such as Notting Hill and Paddington. It was not rare for these residents to own more than two houses that were rented out, characteristically large three or four story Victorian terraced houses. As the decades proceeded, many of these houses were sold due to the owners returning to the Caribbean, or simply moving. Similar trends occurred in Shepherds Bush, Balham and more recently in Dalston, Brixton, Peckham, leaving a decline in property ownership amongst succeeding Caribbean heritage peoples within the UK.
While the cost of properties has been exorbitant in London, where according to the last Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) Census for England and Wales, 58.4% of black people reside, the cost of properties in locations such as the West Midlands (which is said to host the second largest population of black people) at 9.8%, is considerably lower.
Black Landlords UK (BLUK) in Birmingham aims to revitalise the calibre of not only black home ownership, but also the number of black landlords. Founded in late 2017, one of the committee members Garfield Reece revealed how the organization came into fruition. ‘’It evolved (BLUK) from conversations that Rod Shield (senior investor in Birmingham) had during his networking meetings. People were asking him the same questions wherever he went.’’ Some of the questions that Reece cited were ‘’How we got into property management? How to turn a single let property into a high yielding HMO (House Multiple Occupation)? How to resolve issues and conflicts with tenants.’’
Initially, Rod Shield decided to establish a Whatsapp group to address the myriad of questions he was bombarded with and to mobilize the engagement of black people within the community. The Whatsapp group quickly demonstrated the demand for such an organization and according to Shield, “The Whatsapp group numbers exceeded the allowable quote on Whatsapp; well in the excess of 200 investors in the group. So that’s really where it all started.’’ It was during this time that the committee (who volunteer their expertise for free) decided to galvanise all those that expressed an interest in property to congregate in one room. This lead to BLUK’s quarterly meetings; “The first meeting was held back in January this year,’’ declares Reece.
The first BLUK meeting in January 2019 had approximately 50 people in attendance, and numbers have been growing rapidly. At BLUK’s last quarterly meeting for 2019, the committee expect to have 120 investors. “We are giving service providers and businesses within the community, an opportunity to sell and promote their businesses,’’ Reminiscent of a market stall, there will be six tables with businesses each discussing topics such as finance and how to raise mortgages. Half of the meeting will consist of Keynote Speakers, who will talk about the process one has to go through when acquiring property. The other half of the meeting will be dedicated to roundtable discussions, “It will be like mini workshops,’’ states Reece. “Each roundtable is going to talk about a different investment strategy,’’ Reece adds.
The next BLUK meeting will take place on Saturday, November 23rd, 2019 from 14:00 – 18:00 at the Legacy Centre of Excellence (formerly known as the Drum) 14 Potters Lane Birmingham, B6 4UU.
The median age of first-time home buyers has increased to 33, the oldest in records dating back to 1981, according to a National Association of Realtors report released Friday. The median age of all buyers also hit a fresh record, 47, increasing for a third straight year — and well above the median age of 31 in 1981.
While the median age of first-time home buyers only rose by one year, the increase reflects a variety of factors facing Americans searching for a home.
A nationwide shortage of affordable housing, coupled with lower mortgage rates, has stoked prices in cities from the coasts to the heartland. At the same time, student loans and other debts make it harder for Americans to save tens of thousands of dollars for a down payment, while tight lending standards can make getting a bank loan difficult for borrowers with less-than-stellar credit scores.
“Housing affordability is so difficult today, especially when coupled with rising rents and student loan debt, that they’re finding different ways to enter home ownership,” said Jessica Lautz, vice president of demographics and behavioral insights at the Realtors group in Washington.
The characteristics of home buyers have changed in recent years. The share of married couples has declined as unmarried couples and those purchasing as roommates has risen.
As buyers’ ages have increased, so have their incomes. The typical income of purchasers rose to $93,200 in 2018 as a lack of affordable options squeezed lower-income potential buyers out of the market.
Higher prices of homes have also changed how first-time buyers are entering the market. Nearly a third of first-time home buyers said they used a gift from a relative or friend to fund their down payment.
Builders have cited a shortage of affordable lots and labor as reasons to build fewer or bigger single-family homes, leaving America’s growing population to consider more of the existing housing stock. New homes as a proportion of all purchases fell to a low of 13% in records dating back to 1981.
The report reflects survey responses from 5,870 people who purchased a primary residence in the period between July 2018 and June 2019.
The conversation around homeownership in Mississauga and surrounding cities has been a challenging one, especially as prices remain high across all housing types in the city and surrounding municipalities (in fact, the average 905 condo is selling for over $400,000 and has been for sometime now).
But while it’s frustrating for experts—and non-experts who entered the market years ago—to tell prospective homebuyers that they’ll have to move to find an affordable housing, some people might be interested to know that there are indeed still places in Canada that offer affordable homes for single buyers with more modest salaries.
And a recent Zoocasa report reveals where solo homeowners-to-be on a budget might be able to purchase a home.
“While having a dual-income household can greatly improve purchasing power and the ability to qualify for a mortgage, that’s not to say homeownership isn’t in the cards for single-income earning buyers. In fact, according to recent calculations by Zoocasa in celebration of Single Awareness Day (February 15), there are a number of markets where it’s possible to buy a home on one income – and even have money left over,” says Penelope Graham, managing editor, Zoocasa.
Graham says that, to determine which markets were affordable, the average and benchmark home prices were sourced from regional real estate boards. It was then assumed the buyer would make a 20 per cent down payment and take out financing with a 3.29 per cent interest rate amortized over 30 years, to determine the minimum income required to qualify for a mortgage on the average home.
Those findings were then compared to median income data of “persons living alone who earned employment income” as reported by Statistics Canada.
So, where can solo buyers most easily afford a home?
Overall, single home buyers will see the best bang for their buck in Eastern Canada and the Prairie provinces, with Regina taking top spot out of 20 cities for greatest affordability.
There, a single buyer earning the median income of $58,823 would enjoy an income surplus of $20,025 on the average priced home of $284,424.
That’s followed by Saint John, where someone earning the median of $42,888 would see a surplus of $18,038 on a $181,576 home, and Edmonton, where earning $64,036 would net a $17,826 surplus on the average home price of $338,760.
MLS listings in Calgary, Lethbridge, Winnipeg, and Halifax also fall within the realm of affordability for single-income purchasers.
So, where are single buyers less likely to purchase a home? As expected, Zoocasa says the Greater Golden Horseshoe (which includes Toronto and the GTA), is out of most people’s budgets.
Graham says a buyer earning the median of $50,721 would fall a whopping $88,361 short on the average $1,019,600 for MLS listings in Vancouver. Toronto real estate listings are the second-least affordable with an average home price of $748,328; a buyer earning $55,221 would face an income gap of $46,858.
Victoria is the third least affordable with an average home price of $633,386, still $39,359 above what the relatively high median income of $86,400 could afford.
Other markets not considered affordable for single buyers include Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Montreal, and Ottawa.
Naturally, the housing market is more difficult for single millennials to navigate.
Zoocasa says the research also compared how earnings ranged by age group per location, and which demographic enjoyed the greatest affordability when purchasing a home. Across every market, Gen Xers (35 – 44 and 45 – 54 age brackets) enjoy the greatest earnings and purchasing power, with 11 markets considered within affordable reach (compared to 10 markets across all age groups).
Millennials (aged 25 – 34) had the least earning power in each city, behind Boomers (aged 55 – 64).
Overall, single home buyers aged 35 – 44 purchasing a home in Regina enjoyed the greatest affordability of all, with an income surplus of $24,215. A millennial purchasing in Vancouver had the least, facing a gap of $92,774.
Check out the infographics below to see which Canadian housing markets are most affordable for single buyers, courtesy of Zoocasa.
Top 5 Most Affordable Housing Markets for Single Home Buyers
1 – Regina
Average home price: $284,44
Income required: $38,798
Actual median income: $58,823
Income surplus: $20,025
2 – Saint John
Average home price: $181,576
Income required: 24,769
Actual median income: $42,888
Income surplus: $18,038
3 – Edmonton
Average home price: $338,760
Income required: $46,210
Actual median income: $64,036
Income surplus: $17,826
4 – Saskatoon
Average home price: $290,736
Income required: $39,659
Actual median income: $55,758
Income surplus: $16,099
5 – St. John’s
Average home price: $295,211
Income required: $40,270
Actual median income: $51,964
Income surplus: $11,694
5 Least Affordable Housing Markets for Single Buyers
Mortgage Pre-Qualification vs Mortgage Pre-Approval vs Mortgage Approval
What are the differences between each stage of the mortgage process?
By Kara KuryllowiczSeptember 18, 2019
In early 2019, several Canadian banks launched digital apps that offer home buyers easy, hassle-free mortgage pre-qualification in 60 seconds or less. Sounds great, right? The problem is many consumers believe a mortgage pre-qualification is a lot like a mortgage pre-approval or mortgage approval. As a result, prospective home buyers and sellers are left expecting the financial institution associated with the app to lend them hundreds of thousands of dollars, despite the fact they simply keyed their names, addresses, contact information and gross income into various online fields.
Getting Mortgage Approval
“Every week, as many as 40% of my new clients come to me because they’ve just bought a home and discovered that mortgage pre-qualification is meaningless and that they do not have the financing required for the purchase,” says Tracy Valko, owner and principal broker of Dominion Lending Centres Valko Financial Ltd., and a director at Mortgage Professionals of Canada.
Let’s get real: A mortgage pre-qualification gives the financial institution warm leads (names, contact information, purchasing timeline) and tells consumers how much money a financial institution might loan them. There is no way any financial institution will actually lend consumers hundreds of thousands of dollars just because they spent 45 seconds with the company’s mortgage pre-qualification tool.
Lenders do everything they can to ensure the borrower will repay the loan. A mortgage pre-approval looks at how an individual manages his/her money to determine that person’s creditworthiness. The next step is the mortgage approval which assesses that specific person’s ability to repay a loan of a certain amount at a set interest rate on a particular home.
“Always get a mortgage pre-approval before you start searching for a home and have a mortgage approval in place before you waive your financing condition on the offer – back out of a deal after it’s firm and you could be sued by the seller.” says Valko. “A mortgage pre-approval will tell consumers and their realtors what they can realistically afford to buy.”
Let’s further define the terms consumers need to fully understand before they commit to a real estate agent and start shopping for a home.
What is Mortgage Pre-Qualification?
It takes less than 60 seconds because it requests only the most basic information, whether it’s submitted to an online app or a financial representative. Mortgage pre-qualification never requires supporting documentation that proves the consumer actually has a full-time job, is paid a weekly salary and has earned a good credit score. At best, a mortgage pre-qualification can provide a very loose, broad estimate of a consumer’s home-buying power based on the consumer’s unverified data. Because the consumer typically inputs the information into an online tool, it takes just seconds for the software, not an experienced, professional underwriter, to pre-qualify a consumer for a mortgage.
If consumers notice and bother to read the apps’ fine print or legal disclaimers, they’ll likely see a statement like this one: “This is not a mortgage approval or pre-approval. You must submit a separate application for a mortgage approval or a mortgage pre-approval and a full credit report.”
In other words, they’re not actually promising you a dime, let alone enough the hundreds of thousands of dollars you’ll likely need to buy a home anywhere in Canada.
What is Mortgage Pre-Approval?
In general, it will take two to five business days to investigate an individual’s financial circumstances and the risk that a person might represent to the lender. The underwriter will need the basics, such as name, address and contact information in addition to detailed data on their income, assets (e.g. stocks, RRSPs, property, vehicles, savings), liabilities (e.g. debt, loans, mortgages) and their credit rating and report as well as the available down payment. Supporting documentation may be required to prove any or all of the above.
Unlike a pre-qualifying app, lenders’ underwriters may request a letter of employment, a Notice of Assessment, pay stubs, or T4 for the two most recent years as well as documentation indicating the down payment is available. The lender or mortgage broker will also require the consumers’ permission to pull credit scores and credit reports from organizations such as Equifax.
Your credit score, typically 300 to 800+, is based on feedback from lenders who confirm that you do or don’t pay your bills in full and on time every month. The credit report includes your name, address, social insurance number and date of birth as well as your credit history, for example, your debts and assets and whether you’ve ever been sent to collection or declared bankruptcy.
“Lenders want to know how well or how poorly you manage your money and will be looking for patterns of insufficient, late and missed payments,” says Valko.
A mortgage pre-approval is generally valid for up to 120 days at a specific interest rate unless the consumers’ circumstances change, for example, employment status, down payment, or income. For example, a consumer may not realize it, but their probationary status with a new employer, whether it’s three, six or 12 months, does matter to lenders. Likewise, a move from a salaried to a contract or self-employed position will also be seen as a higher risk.
“I’ve had clients believe they were full time, salaried employees, then discover they’re still on probation when we start underwriting,” says Valko. “An electrician client left his full-time salaried position to work independently and didn’t realize it negated his mortgage pre-approval, which was based on the guaranteed weekly paycheck versus the sporadic earnings associated with self-employment.”
What is Mortgage Approval?
This is the big one. Once consumers have identified the homes they want to purchase, they need mortgage approval to buy that specific home. Lenders assess the age and condition of the homes and consider comparable homes to confirm the price being paid is fair and market value. The mortgage approval is valid until the closing date unless the buyers’ circumstances change.
“Only the mortgage approval accounts for property specifics, such as taxes or condo fees, so give your underwriter/lender time to ensure the numbers previously used are still valid and that the property is acceptable to the lender,” says Valko.
If you’re serious about the home search and purchase process, skip the mortgage pre-qualification apps. Instead, take the time and make the effort to get mortgage pre-approval, then find the home suits you best, then get mortgage approval to close the deal. Then? Enjoy your new keys.
Source: REW.ca – Kara KuryllowiczSeptember 18, 2019