Real estate prices are dropping, but will Metro Vancouver ever really be affordable? 

First-time buyers looking to capitalize on cooling Metro Vancouver real estate market
WATCH: Real estate prices may be dropping in the Metro Vancouver but housing is still by no means a bargain. In Part 3 of our real estate series, Sarah MacDonald looks at the influx of first-time buyers looking to capitalize on a cooling market.

This is Part 3 in a five-part series on the state of real estate in Metro Vancouver. Read Part 1 here. and Part 2 here

Buyer demand and prices are slumping in Metro Vancouver’s once red-hot housing market, but will this region ever really be affordable?

That depends on how you define affordability — and who you ask.

Real Estate Reality Check Part 1: Taking the temperature of Metro Vancouver’s real estate market

Taking the temperature of Metro Vancouver’s real estate market
Taking the temperature of Metro Vancouver’s real estate market

“We’re not Manhattan. We’re not London for prices although we flirt with those levels,” said Tom Davidoff, an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business.

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While prices have cooled, it’s still a challenge for first-time buyers to break into the market.

“[It’s] fairly difficult to get into the market here in Vancouver, for somebody like myself,” said Jordan Mara, who was born and raised in Vancouver.

READ MORE: As sales stall, Metro Vancouver caught between a buyer’s and seller’s market

Now approved for a mortgage, Mara is joining a larger exodus of buyers who are house hunting well outside of the city and its suburbs.

In his case, he is looking at buying in Squamish.

“I have had luck finding places that would fall into my budget, it’s just that they’re outside of Vancouver and that’s a sacrifice that I’m willing to make,” Mara said.


Still, many millennials like Mara are opting to stay as close as possible to the city centre as more prospective buyers previously priced out of the market are now taking the plunge.

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Realtor Zenin McEachern says he has seen an uptick in prospective first-time buyers looking to capitalize on cooling prices and decreased demand.

“Bidding wars are very uncommon these days,” he said. “It’s opened up a lot of opportunities for first-time buyers and people who are on the lower end of the market looking to jump up the property ladder.”

Real Estate Reality Check Part 2: Factors cooling Metro Vancouver’s real estate market

Factors cooling Metro Vancouver’s real estate market
Factors cooling Metro Vancouver’s real estate market

But for many others, saving enough money for a down payment — in the face of rising rental rates — is an unattainable goal.

Renter Jennifer Bradshaw say she has “come to terms with the fact that I’ll probably be renting for the rest of my life.”

“I come from Japan and there most people are renting,” she added.

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READ MORE: This West Vancouver mansion just sold for less than half its asking price. It’s not the only one

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart — a life-long tenant himself — expects the rental model in other major world-class cities to take hold in this one.

“I think it’s a fact that the city of Vancouver will be more and more a renters’ city. All global cities kind of go in that direction.”

Prospective buyers like Mara are moving in a different direction, although not too quickly.

“I’ll be patient with finding that place rather than trying to jump at the first place that comes across to me,” he said.

On Friday, Global News Radio 980 CKNW will host a live special dedicated to examining B.C.’s housing crisis. The four-hour-long show, Gimme Shelter: A CKNW Housing Special, will take an in-depth look at the current state of affairs and the proposed strategies intended to assist those struggling the most.