A lot of Vancouverites have postponed homeownership not because they can’t afford it, but because they’re concerned about (or waiting for) a house price correction. Meanwhile, they’re paying rent each month while their peers who own homes are building equity so they can eventually upgrade in the future and will be mortgage-free when they retire.
Here’s a look at the reasons to stay on the fence and keep renting versus entering our hot real estate market.
Reasons to Get Into a Hot Market
One of the major downsides of postponing homeownership is not being able to afford the property in future that you can afford now. Many of the people who sat on fence about buying in the Greater Vancouver area a few years ago can no longer afford the home they could have bought, not to mention the thousands of dollars they’ve spent on rent. There’s no reason to think that will change any time soon – so the longer you wait, the further you get left behind, and you’ll end up paying off your landlord’s mortgage for the rest of your life instead of your own. What’s more, rental prices in Vancouver are skyrocketing too, and rental vacancies are extremely tight, so renting is no longer a cheap or secure option.
If you buy a home, even in the unlikely event of real estate prices subsequently crashing, with the equity you are creating and current low rates, you could still break even on your housing costs when you consider the amount you would have paid every month in rent. Plus eventually the market will go back up again – it’s only a temporary loss of value and is only a problem if you wish to sell before the price has recovered. (And the chances of a major crash are low, according to all the market indicators and economic forecasts.)
Reasons to Sit on the Fence
There is only really one situation where it makes financial sense to continue renting, and that is if buying would truly stretch your finances to the point where you wouldn’t be able to deal with an emergency like a job loss or a major repair bill. If that’s the case, and there’s definitely no option for you to buy a home at a lower price that doesn’t stretch your finances, then you should save what you can and wait until you’re more stable financially, and then buy. Many people take pride in owning a home and making it their own, but there are additional costs that aren’t associated with renting such as maintenance, strata fees and the potential for special assessments, and you do have to be able to pay for them.
Each individual’s financial situation is different, so even if you’re not sure about buying, go to a mortgage broker to go over your budget and fully understand what you can afford based on your income and expenses (here’s the useful expenses worksheet I use with clients). Your broker can run different scenarios to show how different rates, terms and amortization schedules would impact your monthly payment. Then you can make a fully informed decision about whether it’s time to buy instead of waiting for a crash that may never come.