British Columbia

BC’s First-Time Real Estate Buyers Drop To The Lowest Rate In Years

First-time buyers are said to be driving BC’s residential boom, but that’s not what data shows. BC Government property transfers do reveal more first-time buyers in January. The catch is they failed to grow as quickly as total home sales. First-time homebuyers now represent the smallest part of the market in years.

First-Time Buyers Fail To Keep Up With Total Home Sales

There’s more first-time homebuyers in BC, but they’re failing to keep up with rising home sales. The province had 1,070 first-time buyers in January, up 17.1% from a year before. Total transactions grew by 24.2% over the same period though. This means first-time buyers aren’t scaling as quickly as total home sales. 

BC First-Time Real Estate Buyers Transactions

The number of BC real estate transactions that involved a first-time homebuyers.
Source: BC Land Registry Data, Better Dwelling.

Greater Vancouver real estate represented fewer than half of those transactions. Of the province’s first-time buyers, 469 were buyers in Metro Vancouver. This was an increase of 29.6% compared to the same month a year before. The ratio is an improvement, but first-time buyers in the region are still underrepresented compared to the province… which isn’t doing too hot.

BC’s First-Time Buyers Fall To Smallest Ratio In Years

First-time buyers failing to keep up with the province’s total growth, means a smaller rate. First-time buyers were 9.65% of transactions in January, down from 10.28% in the same month a year before. That’s the smallest rate in at least two years, but likely goes back much further.

BC First-Time Real Estate Buyer Rate

The percent of BC real estate transactions that involved a first-time homebuyers.
Source: BC Land Registry Data, Better Dwelling.

Greater Vancouver improved a little more, but still represented a small segment. The region’s first-time buyers represented 4.2% of the province’s sales in January. This was up from 4.1% of transactions compared to a year ago. Not exactly a huge part of  sales, but it did manage to move a little faster than the total rate of buyers.

If first-time buyers aren’t driving sales, what is? Typically real estate functions as a property ladder. First-time buyers scoop homes, and existing homeowners upgrade. If the rate of first-time buyers fails to keep up with the total, it means more existing homeowners are buying property. Either a lot of people are getting divorced, or there’s significant investor and second home demand.

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6 Comments

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  • Jaimie 6 months ago

    Buying second properties or waiting until the Spring to list the first. Anecdotal, but seeing more people not sell before buying. Probably FOMO to upgrade, and FOMO of selling too soon.

    Works when it does, but it’s tricky if you can’t exit fast enough.

  • Holton 6 months ago

    Biggest mistake the government made was to prop up property prices during the pandemic. They should have let real estate correct during the pandemic.

    Now people who are on the side lines are jumping in because if the biggest economic crisis and lockdown didn’t drop prices nothing will. Thats when the panic buying started.

    Real estate is too big to fail now, only way out is to keep price increase in check and let inflation go higher. So in the future all current debt will be less in real terms.

  • Mare Gronowski 6 months ago

    I bet lots of smart peoples buying propertys as investment for renting running from unofficial inflation 30 % using theirs savings or cashing out on inflate equity in
    primary property before dollar be come worthless very simple situation

  • Pasta Man 6 months ago

    I noticed something interesting today. Take a look at detached home listings on Staten Island (NYC’s wealthiest borough). Detached houses there are selling for $600-700k. People keep saying Vancouver and Toronto are the next NYC in terms of housing costs. Seems like we’ve well exceeded NYC.

    • Canaduh 6 months ago

      Lots of examples of this. Hastings-on-Hudson, NY, a cool 40 minute drive into NYC, has some beautiful properties that are now in the same price range as one of Canada’s other world class cities, Oshawa. Nevermind the quadrupling of prices in ten years, Oshawa is home to General Motors, sits on the busiest highway corridor in North America, and even has a collection of microbreweries in case you ever decide to rethink your life decisions over a drink or three.

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