Buying a home is one of the most important decisions you will make and it's not easy to navigate. There are so many different aspects that need to be considered when buying a home and they can feel overwhelming.
The best thing that you can do for yourself to make the transition easier is to do all your research and find out all there is to know about your potential new city. This article will walk you through 30 things you need to know about buying a home in Vancouver. These tips should give you some much-needed guidance on the process and help prepare for your search!
1. The average price of a home in Vancouver is $1,175,100.
Vancouver is one of the most expensive cities in Canada to buy a home. The average cost for a house here is $1,175,100.
Vancouver has many different types of real estate available ranging from new construction to condominiums and townhouses. There are also plenty of single-family detached homes on the market in Vancouver. The city has many interesting neighbourhoods that are filled with character and heritage. Many of these homes can be carved out over two or three levels to provide more living space for your family.
2. Vancouver has many multi-million dollar homes, but there are some reasonable homes to buy too.
The majority of Vancouver homes feature million dollar price tags but there are many diamonds in the rough to be found for $750,000 or less.
Don’t fret if you can’t afford something new. A fixer-upper is also an option if you have the time and the money to invest in remodeling a home.
Be prepared to compromise. You may be tempted by the giant houses with spas, pools, and two-story foyers on HGTV, but that’s not your reality when looking for an affordable home in Vancouver.
3. Up to 10% of your household income may go towards mortgage payments and property taxes every year depending on the type of property you live in.
Every year, up to 10% of your household income will go towards mortgage payments and property taxes. This is because the average home in Vancouver costs $1,175,100. Out of this total amount, you'll pay up to $116,510 on your mortgage and $812 on your property taxes. You can expect to spend at least 5% of your income every month for the cost of living in Vancouver as a whole. For example, you may pay more money simply for eating out or going grocery shopping due to inflated prices in the city.
With a fixed rate mortgage, the interest rate will stay the same for the duration of your loan so if you’re able to afford higher payments now, it can save you on interest charges in the long run.
4. You can get preapproved for a mortgage with a credit check but it’s not necessary.
Getting preapproved for a mortgage does not mean you are forced to buy a home or even take out a loan in the future. Applying for a mortgage is simply an application for credit that will help you negotiate interest rates with real estate agents.
With a preapproval letter in hand, you will be able to tell if you are ready to purchase a home. It will also make things easier for your real estate agent considering that some agents must show homes on short-notice and don’t have time to wait for your files to be approved by the bank.
There is no fee to pre-qualify and it should only take a couple of days to receive your letter. Preapproval is not necessary but could be useful for negotiations later on in the process.
5. Be sure to save about 2-4% of the purchase price for closing costs.
Closing costs are the fees you pay in order to finalize the purchase of a home. They include items like real estate commissions for your agent, searches and surveys, the land transfer tax, legal fees, and others. Closing costs can range from 0 to 10% of the purchase price of a home depending on where you live.
Agents will usually add closing costs onto your mortgage and property taxes automatically so make sure you ask them how much these are before signing anything!
In addition to closing costs, you should also save money for moving expenses. It’s common practice for real estate agents to offer commissions of 2-4% to the buyers and sellers of a property.
6. Get familiar with condos--Vancouver has plenty of them!
Condominiums can be a great first-time purchase because the maintenance fees are lower than for apartments and townhouses but difficult if you have children or a large family as you will not be able to renovate and build additional units on the property.
The main disadvantage of owning a condominium is that you can’t do anything with the property itself. This means that you have to pay fees for landscaping, lawn care, snow shoveling, pools, hot tubs, etc. These costs will vary depending on what type of building you live in but they will usually range from $200-$2,500.
7. Consider all of your financing options, Canada has some exceptional home-buyer's programs.
If you make $250,000 or less annually, you may be eligible for a loan from the federal government through their First Time Home Buyers plan. This will allow you to purchase a home worth up to $750,000 CAD (you must also put down at least 5% of the purchase price).
The Home Buyers’ Program spans over a 10-year period. You can make a down payment of up to $50,000 and a second mortgage of up to 25%. The federal government will pay your interest on the second mortgage until you sell or refinance.
8. There are great first-time buyer programs in British Columbia, but there are no first-time buyer requirements.
The HomeFirst Mortgage is available to those who have been residents of the province for less than one year and are making a purchase with a minimum down payment of 5% on a home worth up to $750,000.
If you’ve lived in British Columbia for longer than one year, you may be eligible for the B.C. Home Owner Mortgage and Equity Partnership (HOME). Around the time of 2010, the Province of British Columbia introduced a new home buyer's program for British Columbians who have lived in BC for more than one year. HOME is available to residents who buy a home worth up to $750,000 CAD, with a minimum down payment of 5%. It's not necessary that one be a first-time buyer when applying for this type of mortgage.
9. Vancouver residents have the option of purchasing land available for development.
Vancouver is one of the most densely populated cities in North America so there are only about 100 acres left for future development. Only 25% of the surface area of Vancouver is zoned for residential development with less than half of that already built on.
Those who purchase land may be able to build their dream home on a large lot with more space. Building a home is an immensely satisfying experience; there's the thrill of using your knowledge and skills to make something out of nothing, as well as the satisfaction of seeing your home come together in a way that reflects your needs and desires. With the right set of tools and materials available, you can build just about anything.
10. The City of Vancouver has a number of incentives available for people who are looking to renovate their homes and businesses.
Many people renovate their homes or look towards building new ones. The City of Vancouver has incentives available for those looking to do either, including: grants, low-interest loans, and rebates on certain energy-efficient improvements made to your home (such as insulation).
If you're looking to improve your home, there are many different rebates and grants available for those doing renovations that help lower the cost of your project.
The best place to start is with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website, which is the main government source for home renovation rebates and grants available in Canada. They have a number of programs available based on your address and other factors.
11. Metro Vancouver has a lot of green space, but it's getting shaded out by new construction.
There is little room for development in Metro Vancouver, so most home building is occurring in existing neighborhoods with much less area to grow or expand into than other global cities. As a result, many people are moving outside of the city towards areas such as Surrey and Langley. This is putting pressure on farmers and leading to greater urban sprawl.
The problem of lack of space for development also has the positive side-effect of making it easier to get ahold of a home, as developers are more likely to worry that their prices will just be undercut by another developer.
But with so little green space left, the new homes being built in Metro Vancouver are either coming at the expense of existing greenery like parks or forests, or they're simply going on top of one another without any room in between. This is, of course, somewhat mitigated by the fact that green buildings are becoming more and more common and there's a lot of effort being put towards making them energy efficient.
12. School quality varies by neighborhood in Vancouver--be aware of your choices!
Schools vary greatly from one area to another so you’ll need to do your homework before deciding where to buy a home.
You can get a good idea of the state of local schools by looking at school report cards, asking current or previous residents in the area you’re considering, and visiting the neighborhood.
13. Public transportation is great in Vancouver--but it can be expensive.
There are several different ways you can commute into and around Vancouver. The first way is to drive around the city every day. This will allow you the freedom of commuting on your own schedule, but it may not be feasible for families and those that travel a lot.
You can also look at other ways of transportation such as cycling, walking, or public transit systems that are available in surrounding communities such as SkyTrain and Canada line. Public transportation is great in Vancouver, and it’s free for seniors and those under 19 years old (with a valid bus pass). The buses have heated windshields during the winter so you can get around without having to worry too much about the weather.
14. Public transportation is convenient and efficient, but don’t get your hopes up about air travel.
A lot of people move to Vancouver expecting a cheap or even free short commute on public transit, but this isn’t really true for many areas in the city. The public transit system (called Translink) has two Skytrain lines and many bus routes, but all are expensive compared to other cities.
Another point to note is that the public transit system in Vancouver does not connect with any international airport serving Vancouver. So if you need to get from Vancouver to an airport, you’ll have to drive yourself or rely on taxis, limos, or ride services such as Uber. When going from the airport into Vancouver proper, it can cost a lot more than expected due to traffic congestion.
15. There are some excellent museums, theaters, galleries and restaurants in the city.
Whether you enjoy the arts, history or nature, there is something for everyone in Metro Vancouver to do and see. Some of the most popular include: The Vancouver Art Gallery, Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival (a summer favourite), and the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia.
16. Vancouverites love the outdoors and want to make sure you do too!
The City of Vancouver has a few different parks that are connected by greenways, including: Stanley Park, Pacific Spirit Regional Park, and Trout Lake (both of which have beaches).
One of the other great things about Vancouver is that it’s really close to the mountains. There are several great ski resorts within a two hour drive from Vancouver, including Whistler and the Blackcomb Mountains. This means you don’t have to worry about driving through harsh winters or even worrying about how bad it will be before you get there.
These mountains are some of Canada’s best with lots of activities like snowboarding and skiing for all abilities and they also have summer activities like hiking, biking, fishing, and more to keep you busy.
17. There are plentiful cycling and hiking trails for those who love to soak up the fresh air while staying active.
Vancouver is a great city for cyclists with thousands of kilometers of bike paths including part of the Seawall on English Bay and Point Grey, as well as many other routes and lanes throughout the city. There are also over 200km of walking trails in Vancouver making it easy to see nature up close and personal.
18. Technology is one of Vancouver’s most booming industries--with over 300 ICT companies located here!
Vancouver is home to a number of global and local companies, including but not limited to: Microsoft Canada, Electronic Arts, IBM Global Services, Telus, and Cisco.
The 2020 CBRE (Canada research and reports) North America Tech-30 report says that Vancouver is the leading tech market in the US and Canada. This is great news for anybody considering moving to the area hoping to break into the tech industry!
19. It’s easy to find great eats and restaurants everywhere you go!
Whether you enjoy Mediterranean cuisine, Italian food, Vietnamese food, or Indian food, there are great places to find what you’re looking for. You can find an incredible selection of fine dining options, eclectic food trucks, locally run establishments, and familiar franchise favourites in the city featuring everything from locally sourced produce to fresh caught seafood and so much more!
20. Vancouverites are friendly, but traffic can be chaotic.
Geography is a big factor in traffic here since Vancouver stretches from ocean to ocean with mountains and waterways cutting off parts of the city from others.
Commutes tend to be longer than other Canadian cities due to these geographical obstacles, so it’s not uncommon to see people sitting in traffic for an hour to get to work or back home.
21. Vancouver is home to the largest urban First Nations population in Canada.
This city of over 2.5 million people has a greater number of Aboriginal peoples living here than any other Canadian city. Many people that move to Vancouver come from small towns or big cities and are surprised at how many Aboriginals live here, but they shouldn’t be!
22. Vancouver has a very diverse population, and that’s reflected in the neighbourhoods throughout the city.
Vancouver is home to a very diverse population, with the majority of people being originally from somewhere else. There is an exceptionally large population of Aboriginals in Vancouver that can be seen in all parts of the city. Other minority groups in the city include Italians, Germans, and Chinese. There is also a large LGBTQ community in the city that can be seen at many different Pride events throughout the year.
The diversity of the population is also evident in the many festivals and celebrations that take place in Vancouver each year. Every weekend there is something going on from world-renowned music festivals to pop culture expos, small neighbourhood fairs, and cultural festivals.
23. Vancouver is a beautiful place to take pictures!
People come from all over the world to get their pictures taken here, whether that’s at sunset on English Bay Beach or near one of the many waterfront parks.
Vancouver is also a beautiful place to get married! If you’re thinking about tying the knot in Canada, there are hundreds of completely stunning wedding venues to plan your special day.
24. Vancouver is a major international gateway to North America.
You can fly into YVR from just about anywhere on the planet, but there are also the cruise ships and ferries coming in via BC ports like Nanaimo and Victoria. This means that more than 3 million international passengers come through the gates of YVR in a year.
Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is the second busiest airport in Canada. Every day, it sees more than 35,000 passengers who are either departing or arriving in Vancouver and over 1.8 million tonnes of cargo that have been shipped in from all around the world. The recent $2 billion expansion project was completed in 2008 with a new runway, adding a new terminal building and 4 parking garages making YVR one of North America’s premier airports for international travel!
25. There’s no shortage of interesting things to do in Vancouver, and it’s one of the top tourist destinations in Canada.
Vancouver is on a list of world cities that make for fantastic cities to live in as a digital nomad. If you love hiking, there are many trails around the city that offer amazing views of mountains, waterways, and forests. There are also three very popular beaches close to downtown: Kitsilano, Jericho, and Spanish Banks.
If you want to explore outdoorsy activities like zip lining in the forest or biking on single track trails in Stanley Park, there are plenty of companies who offer guided tours for all levels.
26. Due to the close proximity of mountains and ocean, there are a variety of microclimates in Vancouver.
This means that depending on what time of year it is, the temperature can be completely different on either side of the city! If you’re looking for consistent winters with very little snowfall at all (the average snowfall is 20 cm per year), Vancouver’s West Side is for you. This area has more marine weather systems that often result in good skiing on nearby mountains, too! The East Side of the city typically experiences much hotter summers and a colder and wetter winter.
The geological diversity is also due to the fact that Vancouver sits at the edge of British Columbia’s Coast Mountain Range. The sandstone cliffs, shale, and siltstone form the steep shorelines while the granitic batholith (an igneous intrusion into other rock types) is what forms the towering peaks.
27. Vancouver is known as one of Canada’s cleanest cities.
The average resident recycles more than twice the national average. This is partly due to the fact that Vancouver has been ranked as one of the top cities for sustainability.
It’s a true testament to how much community spirit there is in this city because all recycling, garbage, and composting services are provided through a public utility system called Metro Vancouver. There is no need to pay private companies for the privilege of disposing of your waste, too.
28. There are plenty of residential neighbourhoods right near the downtown core that offer unique living experiences.
Downtown Vancouver is located on a peninsula surrounded by water and mountains, which means that there aren’t many areas where you can have ocean views AND mountain views. This is why many of the condo towers built in the city are located on the downtown peninsula, and you can see Stanley Park from a lot of these buildings as well!
29. Vancouver’s location on an ocean and major river means that it has its own water treatment system.
With so much precipitation (it typically rains more than 150 days per year!), it’s important to have a way of filtering and reusing the water, which is the cleanest in all of Canada.
Water treatment plants can be found on both sides of False Creek. They are actually located underneath the Burrard Street Bridge, so if you’re walking or biking across from downtown Vancouver to the West Side, you’ll be able to see them!
30. The city actually has a very cool mascot: a grumpy old man called ‘Gassy Jack.’
He was named after John Deighton, who opened his saloon in what is now known as Gastown. He allowed locals to stay there without cost, as long as they would also help him build the saloon. When he died, his story became Vancouver’s origin story.
The city is home to many famous landmarks that are symbols of the vibrant culture and history here. The most popular places tourists like to visit are Stanley Park (especially for its iconic totem poles!), the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Granville Island Public Market, and Chinatown.
If you are considering buying a home in Vancouver, there are plenty of things to consider before jumping into the process. The city is one of Canada’s cleanest and has many unique residential neighbourhoods near downtown core that offer condos with mountain or ocean views. There may also be some geological diversity due to its location on an ocean and major river which means it has its own water treatment system. And finally, if you want to explore outdoorsy activities like zip lining in the forest or biking on single track trails in Stanley Park, there are plenty of companies who offer guided tours for all levels! With so many things to do and see and with such a diverse selection of real estate, it's easy to see why Vancouver is such a great place to live!