Once known as “The Best Place on Earth”, British Columbia has a population of 5.1 million as of July 2020 and accounted for 19% of new housing construction in Canada. The average home price in the Greater Vancouver area rose 11.7% year-over-year to over $1.1 million as of October 2020, making the Vancouver housing market one of the most expensive real estate markets in Canada, along with Toronto. In comparison, housing prices in Northern B.C. average at $350,000, while Vancouver Island’s average is just under $550,000.
That’s not to say that Vancouver is the only area in British Columbia that is currently seeing significant growth. The average home price in B.C. grew by 12.5% year-over-year, meaning that growth in Vancouver is slightly trailing the provincial average. Even then, housing prices in Vancouver can make it difficult to afford a mortgage. Unit sales of houses also increased 43.8% provincially, compared to 30.9% for Vancouver.
70% of homes sold in British Columbia in 2020 were multi-unit homes, while 30% were single detached homes. Total home registrations for multi-unit homes decreased by 38.6%, while single detached homes increased by 5.8%. A large proportion of homes sold in British Columbia was in the Metro Vancouver area, at 43%, including Surrey, Langley, White Rock, Burnaby, Richmond, Coquitlam, North Vancouver, and Delta. The Central Okanagan Valley region also saw large growth led by Kelowna.
The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) expects the 5-year average discounted mortgage rate to stay around 2% into 2021. This follows projection of the Bank of Canada rate and Prime Rate to remain at their current lows until 2022. Similarly, the qualifying rate for the mortgage stress test is expected to remain below 5%. BCREA also expects residential sales to increase by 9.7% and for home prices to increase 2.6% in 2021.
According to Super Brokers, the busiest season for mortgage applications in British Columbia is from January to June. Applications then taper off into the fall, before reaching a low in December. The busiest days for mortgage applications are Monday and Tuesday, while Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were the least popular. The average age of a mortgage applicant in British Columbia is 40 years old, while the average annual gross income is $60,581. The average income of applicants varies by area, for example the average income of applicants in Vancouver is $69,431, while it is $51,940 in Nanaimo.
When looking for a mortgage, it is important to compare different lenders in order to find the best mortgage rate that is available for you. British Columbia’s large population means that there is a significant amount of mortgage lenders available for you to choose from. The Big Banks, including RBC, TD, Scotiabank, CIBC, and BMO are of course available, but there are also mortgage lender options that are only available within the province. This includes credit unions, B lenders, monolines, and private lenders.
British Columbia is home to 42 credit unions and also has the largest number of credit union members in Canada, at 1.9 million members. That means just over 40% of all people in British Columbia are members of a credit union. In comparison, only 11% of people in Ontario are members. Along with having the most assets at $72 billion, credit unions have a major presence in B.C.
Vancity is the largest credit union in Canada outside of Quebec, according to the Canadian Credit Union Association. Coast Capital Savings, another B.C. credit union, is the third largest, followed by First West Credit Union at number five and Prospera Credit Union at number seven. These credit unions offer mortgages for properties within British Columbia only. Some private mortgage lenders include Antrim Investment and Cove Mortgage.
Mortgage Brokers in British Columbia are regulated by the BC Financial Services Authority (BCFSA), formally known as the Financial Institutions Commission (FICOM). Mortgage brokers are not required to report suspicious activity, such as money laundering, to the federal financial transaction monitoring program.
Some members of the Canadian Mortgage Brokers Association - British Columbia (CMBA-BC) include First National, Invis, Accredit Mortgage, Community Trust, Peoples Trust, and XMC Mortgage Corporation.
Mortgage brokers must be licensed by the BCFSA for you to be protected under the B.C. Mortgage Brokers Act. You can check to see if your mortgage broker is licensed at BCFSA’s website.