How to Buy a House in Vancouver in 2024

This Page's Content Was Last Updated: August 17, 2023
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What You Should Know

  • Start by saving up for a down payment and boosting your credit score.
  • Closing costs can range from 3% to 4% of the home's purchase price, so keep that in mind as you save.
  • Consider your lifestyle and space requirements - finding the perfect property type that suits your needs is key.
  • Buying a house in Vancouver is expensive, but there are down payment assistance programs available if you qualify.
Best 5-Year Fixed Mortgage Rates in Canada CanadaLeaf
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With the highest home prices in the country, buying a house in Vancouver is a major financial decision. For prospective buyers, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the steps to buying a home in Vancouver. This 10-step guide on how to buy a house in Vancouver can help make the process easier.

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Image: False Creek, Downtown Vancouver

Before you start looking for a home, it's important to understand the current real estate market in Vancouver. This gives you an idea of how much a home would cost and how much you would need to save up for. Based on current home prices in Vancouver as of , the average home is well over $1 million.

Would you be able to afford to buy a house in Vancouver? In the section below, we’ll look at what the minimum income required to buy an average home in Vancouver is, based on making the minimum down payment allowed at that home price for .

10 Steps to Buying a Home in Vancouver

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Step 1: Saving for a Down Payment

Most people looking to buy a home in Vancouver will need to get a mortgage loan. Mortgages require you to make a down payment, with the minimum down payment that you can make being based on the price of the home. Typically, it will range between 5% to 20%, with most Vancouver homes requiring a down payment of at least 20%. Before you start the home buying process, it’s important to save up enough money for a down payment. This requires developing a budget and saving plan that works for you.

As a general rule, homes that cost over $1 million will require a down payment of at least 20% of the home’s purchase price. For example, if you’re purchasing a home for $1.5 million, you’ll need a down payment of at least $300,000.

You can make a down payment of less than 20% if you get an insured mortgage. Insured mortgages require you to pay for mortgage default insurance from a mortgage insurer, such as CMHC or Sagen Canada, and are only available for homes less than $1 million. With this type of loan, your down payment can be as low as 5%. However, you’ll have to pay an additional one-time fee for the mortgage default insurance premium, ranging between 2.8% to 4.0% of the total amount of your mortgage.

With an insured mortgage, the minimum down payment is just 5% for homes less than $500,000. If a home costs between $500,000 and $1 million, the minimum down payment is 5% of the portion that is below $500,000 and 10% of the portion that is above $500,000.

For an average detached home in Vancouver, the minimum down payment is $NaN in . That’s more than the average price of a home in some Canadian cities, such as Edmonton or Winnipeg!

Based on the average attached home price, the minimum down payment is $NaN, while the average condo would need a minimum down payment of $NaN. You will need to have this amount saved up in order to buy a house in Vancouver.

There are down payment assistance programs available, especially for first-time home buyers. The First Home Savings Account (FHSA) lets you save $8,000 per year tax-free, up to $40,000, while giving you a tax deduction on your contributions just like an RRSP. While $40,000 isn’t nearly enough for a down payment on a Vancouver home, it is still helpful for first-time home buyers in Vancouver.

You can use other programs in addition to the FHSA, such as the Home Buyers' Plan, which allows you to withdraw up to $35,000 from your RRSP to buy a home. The federal government’s First-Time Home Buyers Incentive (FTHBI) can also provide financial assistance.

First-Time Home Buyers Incentive (FTHBI) in Vancouver

The First-Time Home Buyers Incentive (FTHBI) allows you to borrow 5% or 10% of the home's purchase price to use as a down payment on your home. If you're looking to use the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive to buy a house in Vancouver, here are some things that you should know:

  • Your annual income must be $150,000 or less.
  • The mortgage amount cannot be more than 4.5 times your annual income.
  • Provides 5% or 10% towards your down payment.

Since you cannot borrow more than 4.5 times your annual income, which must be $150,000 or less, this means that you are limited to a maximum mortgage of $675,000 in order to qualify. That’s equivalent to a maximum home price of roughly $700,000 if you were to make a minimum down payment, and is well under the average price of a home in Vancouver. It’s even less than the average price of a condo! This can make it difficult to use the First-Time Home Buyers Incentive when buying a home in Vancouver, due to the income limit and borrowing limit.

Step 2: Build Up Your Credit Score and Income

When you apply for a mortgage loan, the lender will take a close look at your financials. This includes your credit report and credit score, income, debts, and assets. Generally, being creditworthy means having a good credit score, high income, low debt, and sizable assets. Lenders want to see creditworthy borrowers that are likely to make their mortgage payments on-time. You’ll also get a better mortgage rate if your credit and income are good.

What makes a credit or income good? For a mortgage in Vancouver, you’ll want to have a credit score of at least 600, and ideally above 760 to be considered excellent. Having a low credit score reduces your negotiating power and can exclude you from certain lenders or mortgage types. This can lead to a higher interest rate on your mortgage.

As for income, lenders will take into account factors like job stability and your debt-to-income ratio. Most lenders will want to see you have at least two years of job history to show that you’re likely to continue making your mortgage payments long-term. For self-employed borrowers, this might mean having at least two years of self-employment income. Additionally, having other sources of income such as rental property, investments, or retirement funds will give you more leverage when negotiating.

Your income also impacts your debt-to-income ratio, or debt service ratios, which compares your gross monthly income with your monthly payments for your mortgage, housing costs, and debt. The lower the ratio, the better, as you’ll have more breathing room. Most lenders look for a TDS of less than 44% and a GDS of less than 39%. TDS stands for total debt service and GDS stands for gross debt service, with TDS comparing debt and housing costs to income while GDS compares only housing costs to income. In this case, housing costs will include the estimated cost of your new mortgage.

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Caption: Downtown Vancouver

Step 3: Check Your Mortgage Affordability

Checking your mortgage affordability online is simple and important. It gives you a clear idea of how much you can realistically afford. Lenders assess your gross debt service (GDS) and total debt service (TDS) ratios to determine your mortgage affordability.

When using online calculators to find out your mortgage affordability, or when asking a mortgage broker or lender, your GDS and TDS is used up to their allowed maximum to find out how much you can borrow at a certain interest rate.

Generally, a higher income allows for a larger borrowing amount, while having more debt payments reduces your borrowing capacity. Knowing how your GDS and TDS ratios can affect your borrowing amount can help guide you in reducing your debt or increasing your down payment to afford the home that you want. Ultimately, it helps you determine the maximum price of a home that you can afford.

When it’s time to explore properties, it's important to have your maximum affordable home purchase price in mind. This ensures that you stay within your budget and make a wise decision without exceeding your, and your lender’s, financial limits.

Step 4: Locate a Neighbourhood

Vancouver has dozens of neighbourhoods, each with a distinct character, with other cities in Metro Vancouver adding more possibilities to choose from. When it comes to selecting a neighborhood in Vancouver, it's crucial to consider what truly matters to you. Think about the schools your children could attend, the convenience of nearby shops and restaurants, and the accessibility of public transit options. Property types and age, as well as demographics and crime rates, can also influence your decision.

Finding the perfect neighborhood that aligns with your lifestyle and preferences is tricky, and this is where a real estate agent can come in handy, especially if you’re considering moving to Vancouver from another city. Real estate agents can provide you with detailed information about a neighborhood which can be invaluable when making your decision, through their local knowledge of the area.

At the bottom of this page, we’ve displayed the latest neighbourhood stats for the City of Vancouver so that you can dive into the details. From demographics to property types and average household incomes, you can use these figures to get an overview of different neighbourhoods in Vancouver.

Comparing Vancouver Neighbourhoods (2016 Census)

Highest and Lowest Stats
Average Monthly Rent
$1,824
Dunbar-Southlands
$699
Strathcona
Median Household Income
$111,566
Shaughnessy
$21,964
Strathcona
Unemployment Rate
8.5%
Strathcona
4.6%
Fairview
5-Year Population Growth
24.8%
Mount Pleasant
-5.2%
Kerrisdale
Population Low-Income
49.8%
Strathcona
13.1%
South Cambie
Most Recent Common Home Year Built
1991-2000
Renfrew-Collingwood and Downtown
Working From Home
20.6%
Shaughnessy
4.5%
Renfrew-Collingwood
Public Transit Use
40.4%
Renfrew-Collingwood
16.6%
Shaughnessy
Percentage of Renters
80.8%
Strathcona
21.7%
Dunbar-Southlands
Best 5-Year Fixed Mortgage Rates in Canada CanadaLeaf
Mortgage Term:
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Variable

Step 5: Estimate Closing Costs

Closing costs are the fees you'll need to pay when purchasing a home. These expenses can include real estate lawyer fees, title insurance, and registration fees. It's important to estimate your closing costs to avoid any unexpected surprises, as they can add up to thousands of dollars that you'll need to pay upfront. Your real estate agent can help you navigate through the closing costs associated with your transaction, ensuring a smooth and transparent process.

If you’re buying a house in Vancouver, you’ll need to pay the provincial BC land transfer tax. This tax, called the property transfer tax (PTT), is a marginal tax of 1% up to 5% based on the purchase price of the home. First-time home buyers can get a full or partial rebate of the tax, while foreign buyers will be charged an additional 20% non-resident speculation tax (NRST).

How Much Are Closing Costs in Vancouver?

Closing costs in Vancouver typically amount to 3% to 4% of your home's purchase price. Brace yourself for the biggest expense: land transfer tax. For an average Vancouver home valued at well over $1 million, this single cost alone already accounts close to 2% of your total purchase price. It's a hefty sum, but an important consideration when entering the real estate market. It’s important to note that closing costs are in addition to your down payment.

Step 6: Get a Mortgage Pre-Approval

A mortgage pre-approval, which you obtain from mortgage lenders, specifies the amount they are willing to lend you at a particular interest rate. It’s a good idea to get a mortgage pre-approval in the home buying process because it helps buyers determine their budget and focus their property search on homes within their price range. Additionally, it demonstrates to sellers that you’re committed to purchasing the home.

By obtaining a mortgage pre-approval, you can secure a favourable mortgage rate for a certain period of time before approval, typically up to 120 days. With this mortgage rate hold, you can confidently search for homes without being rushed, knowing that your mortgage rate remains unchanged.

Lock these mortgage rates until December 1, 2024 (130 days)
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Lock these mortgage rates until November 21, 2024 (120 days)
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Step 7: Find a Real Estate Agent

When it comes to buying a home in Vancouver, working with a real estate agent is a smart move. They'll be your guide, showing you potential homes, negotiating on your behalf, and more. And the best part? It usually doesn't cost you a dime as a homebuyer!

Look for agents with a deep understanding of the Vancouver housing market, a solid track record, and glowing references from happy clients. When you've narrowed down your list, go ahead and interview each one to get a taste of their experience and qualifications.

Step 8: Finding Your New Home

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Caption: Suspension Bridge

Get ready to find the home that will make your heart skip a beat! Finding the perfect home in Vancouver is an exciting step in the home buying process. Your real estate agent can show you potential listings, but don't forget to explore home listings yourself. Imagine your dream home - the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the perfect size, and the ideal distance to work.

Even if you've already chosen a neighborhood, there might be some aspects you're willing to compromise on if affordability is an issue. For instance, a smaller home might mean you're able to purchase in an area that otherwise would have been out of your budget. You might even consider buying a foreclosure home or a fixer-upper that offers potential savings, in return for some time and effort.

Once you've created a shortlist of potential homes, consider having home inspections conducted. This extra step will help you uncover any hidden issues and make an informed decision.

Step 9: Making Offers

When you're ready to make an offer, lean on your real estate agent's expertise to guide you through the process. They'll help you determine the right offer amount and navigate the purchase agreement. Plus, they'll ensure you're protected with contingencies for financing, inspection results, and other unforeseen costs, if you decide to go with a conditional offer. You'll submit an offer to the seller, and if it is accepted, you will enter into a contract with them to buy the home.

Step 10: Closing Date

Once a seller accepts your offer, there's a flurry of paperwork to tackle. From securing financing with a mortgage approval to taking care of closing expenses, signing contracts, and making necessary arrangements, your trusted real estate agent and real estate lawyer will be by your side, guiding you every step of the way.

Get ready to schedule a closing date: this is also when you'll receive the keys. When all the documents are signed, and the funds are transferred, congratulations! The keys to your new home in Vancouver will be handed over to you, marking the start of an exciting new chapter as a proud homeowner.

Vancouver Neighbourhood Profiles and Statistics

Data: 2016 Census
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Caption: Granville Island

Arbutus Ridge
Business Improvement Areas:
Kerrisdale
Average Monthly Rent
$1,688
Arbutus Ridge
Median Household Income
$71,008
Arbutus Ridge
Unemployment Rate
6.6%
Arbutus Ridge
Show More
ward image
Caption: Steam Clock, Gastown
Downtown
Business Improvement Areas:
Gastown, Robson Street, Yaletown, Hastings Crossing
Average Monthly Rent
$1,589
Downtown
Median Household Income
$66,583
Downtown
Unemployment Rate
5.6%
Downtown
Show More
Dunbar-Southlands
Business Improvement Areas:
Dunbar VIllage
Average Monthly Rent
$1,824
Dunbar-Southlands
Median Household Income
$104,450
Dunbar-Southlands
Unemployment Rate
6.2%
Dunbar-Southlands
Show More
Fairview
Business Improvement Areas:
Cambie Village, South Granville, Kitsilano 4th Avenue
Average Monthly Rent
$1,341
Fairview
Median Household Income
$69,337
Fairview
Unemployment Rate
4.6%
Fairview
Show More
Grandview-Woodland
Business Improvement Areas:
Commercial Drive, Hastings North
Average Monthly Rent
$1,041
Grandview-Woodland
Median Household Income
$55,141
Grandview-Woodland
Unemployment Rate
5.3%
Grandview-Woodland
Show More
Hastings-Sunrise
Business Improvement Areas:
Hastings North (East Village)
Average Monthly Rent
$1,103
Hastings-Sunrise
Median Household Income
$68,506
Hastings-Sunrise
Unemployment Rate
5.9%
Hastings-Sunrise
Show More
Kensington-Cedar Cottage
Business Improvement Areas:
Commercial Drive, Victoria Drive
Average Monthly Rent
$1,163
Kensington-Cedar Cottage
Median Household Income
$70,815
Kensington-Cedar Cottage
Unemployment Rate
5.9%
Kensington-Cedar Cottage
Show More
ward image
Caption: Streets of Vancouver
Kerrisdale
Business Improvement Areas:
Kerrisdale Village
Average Monthly Rent
$1,504
Kerrisdale
Median Household Income
$75,419
Kerrisdale
Unemployment Rate
7.5%
Kerrisdale
Show More
Killarney
Business Improvement Areas:
Collingwood
Average Monthly Rent
$1,094
Killarney
Median Household Income
$71,559
Killarney
Unemployment Rate
5.4%
Killarney
Show More
ward image
Caption: Vancouver Skyline from Kitsilano Beach
Kitsilano
Business Improvement Areas:
Kitsilano 4th Avenue, West Broadway
Average Monthly Rent
$1,472
Kitsilano
Median Household Income
$72,839
Kitsilano
Unemployment Rate
5.2%
Kitsilano
Show More
Marpole
Business Improvement Areas:
Marpole
Average Monthly Rent
$1,113
Marpole
Median Household Income
$53,782
Marpole
Unemployment Rate
7.2%
Marpole
Show More
ward image
Caption: Aerial photo of Mount Pleasant, Vancouver
Mount Pleasant
Business Improvement Areas:
Mount Pleasant, Cambie Village
Average Monthly Rent
$1,291
Mount Pleasant
Median Household Income
$66,299
Mount Pleasant
Unemployment Rate
4.7%
Mount Pleasant
Show More
Oakridge
Business Improvement Areas:
None
Average Monthly Rent
$1,494
Oakridge
Median Household Income
$62,988
Oakridge
Unemployment Rate
5.7%
Oakridge
Show More
Renfrew-Collingwood
Business Improvement Areas:
Collingwood
Average Monthly Rent
$1,107
Renfrew-Collingwood
Median Household Income
$64,179
Renfrew-Collingwood
Unemployment Rate
5.8%
Renfrew-Collingwood
Show More
Riley Park
Business Improvement Areas:
Cambie Village
Average Monthly Rent
$1,361
Riley Park
Median Household Income
$83,513
Riley Park
Unemployment Rate
4.9%
Riley Park
Show More
Shaughnessy
Business Improvement Areas:
Cambie Village
Average Monthly Rent
$1,786
Shaughnessy
Median Household Income
$111,566
Shaughnessy
Unemployment Rate
4.7%
Shaughnessy
Show More
South Cambie
Business Improvement Areas:
Cambie Village
Average Monthly Rent
$1,500
South Cambie
Median Household Income
$83,111
South Cambie
Unemployment Rate
6.7%
South Cambie
Show More
ward image
Caption: Woodward’s Building, Downtown Eastside
Strathcona
Business Improvement Areas:
Strathcona, Chinatown, Hasting Crossing, Downtown Eastside, False Creek Flats
Average Monthly Rent
$699
Strathcona
Median Household Income
$21,964
Strathcona
Unemployment Rate
8.5%
Strathcona
Show More
Sunset
Business Improvement Areas:
Victoria Drive, South Hill
Average Monthly Rent
$1,112
Sunset
Median Household Income
$68,855
Sunset
Unemployment Rate
5.2%
Sunset
Show More
Victoria-Fraserview
Business Improvement Areas:
South Hill (Fraser Street), Victoria Drive
Average Monthly Rent
$1,064
Victoria-Fraserview
Median Household Income
$68,126
Victoria-Fraserview
Unemployment Rate
6.5%
Victoria-Fraserview
Show More
West End
Business Improvement Areas:
West End, Robson
Average Monthly Rent
$1,308
West End
Median Household Income
$51,410
West End
Unemployment Rate
5.3%
West End
Show More
West Point Grey
Business Improvement Areas:
Point Grey Village
Average Monthly Rent
$1,524
West Point Grey
Median Household Income
$84,951
West Point Grey
Unemployment Rate
6.4%
West Point Grey
Show More

Data Source:

The calculators and content on this page are provided for general information purposes only. WOWA does not guarantee the accuracy of information shown and is not responsible for any consequences of the use of the calculator.