Housing affordability is still on the ropes across most of the country despite recent declines in prices, so it might seem there’s no path open for single Canadians to achieve their dream of owning a home. Not so, says a new report from Zoocasa released on Feb. 8.
“Home prices in many cities have come down from the peaks of early 2022, with some of the major cities across Canada flattening in the later months of last year.” the report said. “While homes are still expensive, single buyers may have more luck in their home search now than they would have this time last year.”
National home prices fell 12 per cent during 2022 to an average of $626,318, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association, potentially opening the door to more buyers, although higher interest rates and tougher qualifying rules still pose barriers for some. Individuals living alone accounted for three in 10 households, according to Statistics Canada.
In an attempt to ferret out opportunities for solo buyers on a tighter budget, real estate brokerage Zoocasa crunched the numbers for 18 markets using average prices and median income data from Statistics Canada to identify five major Canadian cities where a singleton can make a go of homeownership.
Zoocasa said the Prairies and Atlantic Canada offer the best options for single homebuyers, assuming a 20-per-cent down payment and a mortgage amortized over 30 years at the current average interest rate of 5.14 per cent.
Of the five most affordable cities for single-income earners, Regina comes out on top. The average home price there is $311,500 and the income required to qualify for a mortgage is $48,450, but the actual median income is $58,000, leaving surplus income of $9,550. The next most affordable city is Saint John, N.B. The average home price is $261,300 and the income required is $40,613, but the actual median income is $48,000, leaving surplus income of $7,387.
Edmonton, at No. 3, has an average home price of $366,600 and the income required is $57,000, leaving a surplus of $2,600 since the actual median income is $59,600. Fourth is St. John’s, Nfld., where the average home price is $316,800, the income required is $49,275 and the actual median income is $50,400, for a surplus of $1,125. Winnipeg comes in at No. 5, with an average home price of $323,400, required income of $50,288 and actual median income of $50,400, leaving a small surplus of $112.
Vancouver and Toronto — Canada’s hot housing capitals — remain out of reach for the average single homebuyer. Average prices there are $1,114,300 and $1,081,400, respectively, requiring average incomes of $173,250 and $168,150, both well above the cities’ median incomes of $56,400 and $62,000.
Detached homes are mostly off limits to single buyers as well, although Zoocasa said they were affordable for an individual purchaser in Saint John where the average price is $261,900.
Overall, apartments are the most affordable for single individuals with prices in seven cities within reach, including Calgary and Edmonton, where average prices are $286,200 and $176,400, respectively, “well within the affordability range of the average income,” Zoocasa said,
Edmonton also has the most affordable townhouses with an average price of $229,300.