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British Columbians need to save for up to 20 years to afford first home

First-time homebuyers in the Lower Mainland have to save for over a decade to afford current prices.
Nationally, Vancouver is the city with the fifth longest timeframe needed to save for a home, according to Point2.

Saving up to pay for the upfront cost of first-time homeownership in B.C. can take approximately 11 to 17 years, with the time to save for full costs being 20 years, according to a study from Point2, an international real estate portal. 

“Never has the dream of becoming a homeowner in Canada felt just like that — a dream,” the study said. 

The data highlights how saving for a first-time homebuyer can be a daunting task, especially for those who rely heavily on their savings, said Alexandra Ciuntu, the author of the study. 

“Affordability may differ from wallet to wallet, but one thing’s for sure: the first year of homeownership is challenging for fresh owners in B.C.,” Ciuntu said. 

The study analyzed 50 Canadian cities with Vancouver, Richmond, Coquitlam and Burnaby recording some of the highest 20 per cent down payments, over $205,000, according to the study. Vancouver has the second-highest closing costs in the country, with Toronto being first, at more than $23,000. 

For those looking to buy in the Lower Mainland, the cost of the first year of homeownership in Vancouver averaged at $331,368. Richmond was slightly lower with an average of $314,917, with Burnaby and Coquitlam having an average of $300,000. 

Abotsford was the most “manageable” within the Lower Mainland at a little over $210,500 for the first year of homeownership. 

“Location and personal budget play essential roles in assessing affordability when transitioning to homeownership. In Canada, people diving into homeownership deal with upfront costs of almost $153,200, on average,” Ciuntu said. “Our data reveals that all of the major cities where the upfront costs are above this national average happen to be in Ontario and British Columbia, from Vancouver, Toronto and Mississauga to perhaps less expected places like Saanich, Ajax, or Langley.”

Out of all the B.C. cities analyzed, Prince George is the most affordable with only five years needed to save for upfront costs and the first year of homeownership totalling roughly $103,162. 

On the other hand, data in the study shows that all B.C. cities included have one of the most affordable homeowners’ insurances ($924), in addition to some of the lowest property taxes (below $3,800).