Here's how much you need to make to afford a home in Vancouver right now

Feb 2 2022, 10:55 pm

The housing market in Vancouver is notoriously treacherous, and prices only got higher after the pandemic reached BC. That means it’s not looking encouraging for prospective homeowners on the hunt right now, but how bad is it? The answer isn’t exactly uplifting, but the numbers are in.

To start, if you even want to think about buying a home in the city, you need to be a millionaire. The average detached home costs around $2 million, and very few Vancouverites have the kind of income needed to support it.

In a report, the National Bank of Canada says households need to have an income of $253,000 to buy an average home in Metro Vancouver. That’s to afford a $1.47 million home, which is now the average price tag.

With a savings rate of 10%, it would take over 34 years of savings to cover the down payment for that type of home.

national bank housing affordability

National Bank of Canada

The benchmark price for all residential properties rose in January 2022 to $1,255,200.

At the same time, home sales in Vancouver slowed from a record-setting pace last year with fewer properties available. 

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver says it saw a 5% decrease in sales since January 2021 and a 15% fall from December 2021.

The board also recorded fewer listings in January than it did in December, creating competition for the few homes available.

The benchmark price for a detached home was $1,953,000, an increase of 22.7% from the same month a year prior. 

Apartment and condo prices spiked to $775,000 for an increase of 14% since December 2021.

During the same time period, the price rose to $1,029,500 for attached homes, an increase of 24.3%.

Also in January, the National Bank of Canada report found home prices jumped by 5.8% over the past 12 months. Single-family dwelling houses saw an increase of 6.5%, and condominium prices grew by 2.8%.

How much will you spend every month on your mortgage?

One part of the affordability crisis in the Vancouver housing market is that even homeowners are dedicating an overwhelming portion of their income to their mortgages. 

In Metro Vancouver, 84.7% of the homeowners’ incomes for single-family dwelling houses and townhouses went to their mortgage, according to the National Bank of Canada report.

It’s a much lower percentage for condominiums, where homeowners dedicate around 37.7% of their income to mortgage payments.

MoneySense, a digital financial magazine, calculated the household income you need to afford a home across different parts of the Greater Vancouver Area (GVA) based on the average prices in December 2021.

The publication found you would need a household income of $320,000 to afford a $1,910,200 detached home, plus a monthly mortgage payment of $7,000.

Moneysense housing Vancouver report


The numbers change based on the kind of property you’re looking for. An average townhouse is $1,004,900 plus a $3,780 monthly mortgage payment, the MoneySense report says. To cover that, you would need a household income of $170,000.

Apartments and condos average at $761,800 plus a $2,790 mortgage, requiring a household income of $130,000. 

Which parts of Metro Vancouver are the most expensive?

MoneySense also analyzed how those prices fluctuate across each of the 21 regions listed for the Greater Vancouver Area, also known as Metro Vancouver.

“Looking at area-specific data can be helpful when house hunting,” reads the report.

“That’s because you can focus your property search on the regions that you can more easily afford.”

Unsurprisingly, West Vancouver is the most expensive region by far, demanding an average household income of $434,000 to afford the average property. 

New Westminster is the most affordable, with an average household income of $128,000 to buy the average home.

The market is also reasonable on the Sunshine Coast, where the average property costs $854,500 plus a $3,130 mortgage payment, making it the only other area where homes cost under $1 million. Still, households need to make $145,000 on average to afford them.

“If you’re surprised by the average income needed to afford a home in Vancouver and the GVA today, remember that there are still options available for a variety of buyers with different household incomes,” reads the report.

“In addition to sound financial planning, setting realistic expectations is important to achieving homeownership—and knowing how much you’ll likely need to earn to buy a home is a big part of that.”

But look on the bright side: things are getting worse in Toronto and Victoria if you just look at fluctuations in affordability. Hopefully, that offers some consolation.

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