Housing affordability may be the hot-button issue across Canada. British Columbia is not immune to the same pricing issues, especially as interest rates climb, making housing more out of reach for many buyers. This is particularly the case with Vancouver real estate, where prices are about 30 per cent higher than the provincial average.
The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) recently published a pathway to greater affordability in the BC real estate market. A collaboration between real estate boards from across the province, the article outlines how housing supply and affordability have impacted the whole province. In response, the BCREA outlined several ways to improve the current situation, including a more diverse housing supply that includes multi-family dwellings and greater collaboration between government and stakeholders.
The financial pinch is found across Vancouver real estate as well. Home prices have soared throughout the pandemic, with the average home in Greater Vancouver selling for $1,1195,428. Compare this to the provincial average of $918,378. Affordable is top of mind for many in the Vancouver area, forcing some residents to examine other nearby cities.
With the increase in remote workers, people are no longer bound to the office and can seek out a more affordable option for their families, avoiding a scenario where they are house poor. Here are some options outside the Greater Vancouver area but still close enough that you can visit and take in everything that makes Vancouver great.
5 Affordable Areas Outside of the Vancouver Real Estate Market
One of the fastest growing cities in Canada, Kelowna feels like you’re living an extended vacation. Live on the water in summer and on the ski hills in winter. Boating, hiking, biking, golfing and skiing are popular activities that keep you busy year-round. On top of the lifestyle, affordability is another critical reason to choose Kelowna.
According to data from BCREA, homes in the Okanagan sell for an average price of $775,967, a far lower cost than what you will find in Vancouver real estate. The pandemic caused a real estate frenzy in the region, with a record number in August 2021. However, the market seems to be returning to a more balanced state with sales of 1,205 in August of this year, a 32.6 per cent dip from those record highs.
“The market seems to have started turning the corner with respect to overall inventory levels. With an increase of properties available, this could bode well for sellers and buyers who have been sidelined for much of the year,” notes the Association of Interior REALTORS® President Lyndi Cruickshank.
Like Kelowna, Victoria also saw a dip in record sales and prices in August of this year. According to the Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB), sales fell 42.5 per cent in August 2022 compared to August 2021.
“After two years of market conditions that favoured home sellers, sales have diminished in the past few months, and inventory levels have been slowly increasing,” says Victoria Real Estate Board President Karen Dinnie-Smyth.
This shift is welcome news for homebuyers in Victoria. As Victoria moves toward more balance between buyers and sellers, it will continue to make it a more affordable option than Vancouver.
Victoria is regularly featured among the best cities to live in in Canada. Its unique geography and natural charms make it a popular place for those wanting to flee snowy winters and, just a ferry ride away from Vancouver, for those wishing to live close to BC’s largest city.
Kamloops is one of the most beautiful cities in Canada, so it’s not surprising that this riverside city is drawing homebuyers from the Vancouver Core and from across the country. Although the demand is strengthening, the average residential price remains reasonable for new market entrants.
With an average sales price of $580,128, according to data from BCREA, this is one of the most affordable cities in the province. Interest rate hikes have helped calm the market, pushing it closer to equilibrium between buyers and sellers.
Lyndi Cruickshank, President of the Association of Interior REALTORS® (Kamloops Branch), says that “sales activity dropped to its lowest July level in over a decade as rising interest rates have dampened affordability for many would-be buyers…When the market reaches an equilibrium after the dust settles on the remaining rate hikes over the remainder of the year and sellers adjust their price expectations, it will be a slightly different market that buyers return to compared to now but one with more ample options.”
Named the City of Parks, Surrey is considered part of Vancouver but has its own identity and, thankfully for homebuyers, lower housing prices. Residents find the cost of living far lower in Surrey than in downtown Vancouver, which is only 29 km away.
The city boasts restaurants, breweries, bars, numerous parks, and a diverse population. Surrey is an ideal place to get a full complement of urban living options without Vancouver real estate prices.
Like the other markets on this list, Surrey is beginning to stabilize. Though the average detached home will cost almost $1.5 million, townhomes and apartments are much more reasonable, at $822,400 and $530,400, respectively. Many are hoping that these prices are going to come down.
“The sales slowdown we’re seeing reflects a level of caution exercised by buyers, who are likely waiting for the market to settle further before jumping in. In the meantime, we anticipate prices may continue to decline across all categories,” says Sandra Benz, President of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board.
#5 Powell River
Do you want to be a ferry ride away from Vancouver but feel like you are in a new world? Well, the Sunshine Coast may be for you. The price may be right, too, with an average sales price of $707,707.
The Sunshine Coast is rich in natural beauty, with coastal mountains in your backyard and the ocean just steps away. Powell River is the residential centre of the Sunshine Coast and features a vibrant arts and culture scene.
Though prices are still climbing in the region, they are substantially lower than you will find in Vancouver.
Is Affordability Gone from British Columbia Real Estate?
If you do not have the option of sitting on the sidelines and waiting until prices fall to submit an offer on a property, there is plenty of value outside Vancouver if you know where to look. Many BC cities are beginning to witness new inventory coming to market, which could relieve some of the higher prices this year.