It Now Takes Up To 36 Years To Save A Down Payment For Canadian Real Estate: NBC

It’s widely known that Canadian real estate affordability is getting worse, but it’s hard to picture. The latest affordability report from National Bank of Canada (NBC) can help with that. They crunched the numbers on how long it takes to save for the minimum down payment on a non-condo home. As of Q3 2021, it takes double the usual length of time for a median household to save. That’s across the country, with expensive markets taking up to 36 years to save the minimum needed.

A Down Payment On Canadian Real Estate Takes 9 Years of Savings

Canadian households looking to buy a home on the median income need a decade of savings. It takes 104 months (9 years) of savings in Q3 2021 to save the minimum down payment for a non-condo home. To say this is unusual is an understatement. Since 2000, the average has only been 49 months (4 years). It takes more than twice as long as it normally does. 

We know, “…but prices won’t stay the same — this is a useless exercise!” That’s the email we get from real estate agents every time we publish National Bank’s estimates. It’s a fair takeaway if you’re not sure what the point the economists are making is.

The metric tells us how long it would take to save a down payment if wages and home prices moved together. It’s a snapshot to highlight where the numbers are if things don’t get worse or better — just where the market is. Markets change and 36 years of consistent growth is unrealistic. They’re just highlighting how far out of historic norms affordability has been.

Vancouver Real Estate Now Takes 36 Years To Save A Down Payment

Vancouver real estate is some of the least affordable on the planet and it somehow found a way to get worse. It takes the median household 431 months (36 years) to save a down payment in Q3 2021. This is up from 410 months in the previous quarter and the average since 2000 is 147 months (12 years). Saving a down payment takes 3 and a half decades, which is 3x worse than normal.

Canadian Real Estate: Time To Save Down Payments

The number of months a median household in each Canadian city would need to save the minimum down payment required to buy a non-condo home.

Source: NBC; Better Dwelling.

A Toronto Home Takes 28 Years To Save A Down Payment, 5x More Than Normal

Toronto deteriorated even further, which is impressive for North America’s least affordable city. It takes a household 330 months (28 years) to save a down payment in Q3 2021, up from 318 months in the previous quarter. The average since 2000 is just 64 months (5 years), so this is more than 5x longer than normal. This is the second-biggest gap between the market and historic norms across Canada.

Victoria Real Estate Is The Most Disconnected Market In Canada

Victoria gets a special shoutout for the biggest deviation from normal pricing dynamics. It would take 350 months (29 years) to save the down payment on a non-condo home. The average since 2000 is only 68 months (6 years). This is slightly more than the 5x deviation Toronto is seeing.

Edmonton and Winnipeg Are The Only Two Markets Without A Huge Disconnect

Not all Canadian real estate markets are way worse than historic norms. They’re all just located in the Prairie provinces. In Edmonton, it takes 30 months (3 years) to save a down payment in Q3 2021, compared to a 25 month (2 years) average since 2000. Winnipeg came in at 29 months (3 years) compared to 22 months (2 years) using the same measures. They’re both less affordable than usual, but not to the extent of other markets. 

Such a large disconnect for home prices doesn’t last forever but it might feel that way. At five years and counting, Canadian real estate is the second-longest bubble in the G7. Not by accident, but Canada expends significant energy inflating prices. It often even labels measures known to raise prices as “affordability measures.”
In fact, financial experts are discussing how parents need to plan to save a down payment for their kids in retirement. Not exactly a discussion that’s typically had in advanced economies.



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  • Norm 2 years ago

    Somewhere, deep in the bowels of the Bank of Canada, they’re having a talk with a politician about how to push prices higher by lending people more money.

  • Felix 2 years ago

    They should track the income of the people moving out of the city, because the only people I know leaving Toronto are higher income households. How does that work if every middle-class family thinks they’re the rich trying to exploit lower income household for rent?

    • Ian Brown 2 years ago

      People eventually just realize they don’t want to take a high risk gamble for a low payoff. There’s a reason Toronto loses people to other cities and tries to make it up by importing people with the grift of promising opportunities.

  • Charlie Lee 2 years ago

    I seriously don’t understand why young people with skills stay in Canada at this point. You can’t even get a shack in the woods in Ontario for under a million. People somehow think this is normal, even though you can still get a house in New York City for less than a million.

    • Kyle 2 years ago

      They don’t have to leave Canada. They’re going to move to the Prairies where actual industry is conducted instead of speculation on homes. the government ignoring the West is probably the best thing that could have happened to the region.

      • Tia Wolfe 2 years ago

        By West you mean Prairies, because in BC they elected a house flipper to parliament. LOL

      • Don Jason 2 years ago

        “They’re going to move to the Prairies”

        How without jobs?????

    • expat 2 years ago

      You can buy a lake view property in Italy for 200,000 euros. Not sure why anyone with skills would stay either.

    • Bob Smith 2 years ago

      That’s a completely misleading statement. I earn under 100k and left Toronto. It just wasn’t affordable.

  • Will 2 years ago

    This might be a dumb question but why separate non-condo housing from condos? They’re all housing. I figure I must be missing something but I don’t get it.

    • Anthony Pelletier 2 years ago

      My impression is it’s kind of like looking at the average price of a car but also including motorcycles.

      Condos on average are cheaper and typically only fit certain segments of the market. It’s important to view the data with and without condos integrated as they can skew the average price down and give an impression of lower prices broadly.

  • fred 2 years ago

    Thanks to bank of Canada
    Bank of Canada said they stop buying bond , but in 03/NOV /2021 just bought 2 billions mortgage security. To pump up housing market again.
    Are they lying?

    • david 2 years ago

      I don’t know the details for this particular case but in general: BOC does not stop buying debt. They stopped expanding the balance sheet.
      The BOC will buy the rolling debt as it matures.

    • Alan 2 years ago

      I believe the figures are in millions of dollars so the difference is 2 million.

  • mario glumpak 2 years ago

    Unfortunately this is not going to get better anytime soon, especially in Ontario and BC. Perspective homeowners will need to solve this problem for themselves. Options: Move to cheaper provinces/areas, house hack, renovate using sweat equity, family/generational borrowing. The next generation may just have to come to terms that housing ownership/affordability may become out of reach and renting might be the newer norm. This has become one of the biggest problems that needs solving in Canada.

  • D 2 years ago

    death by a thousand cuts. How long will the average millenial last?

    • Kath 2 years ago

      Many millenials have seen their net worth go from zero to hundreds of thousands due to the unprecedented growth in home prices over the past ten years or so.

      • D 2 years ago

        Most millennials don’t own homes so your comment is irrelevant.

        • Kath 2 years ago

          Stats Canada disagrees with you. About half are home-owners.

          • Houseprice 2 years ago

            Does statscan consider PR holders or just Citizens..That would make a big difference.

          • D 2 years ago

            Of those 50% how much are locked into a 20-30 year mortgage? My point still stands.

          • D 2 years ago

            Stats-can which is a totally unreliable site these past few years considers home owners those with a mortgage. Most millennials don’t own homes.

  • Houseprice 2 years ago

    There is no intention from Govt or BoC to curb this. They want people to stay on rent. Average condo price in GTA is now over 600K + maintenance. Builders are asking over 1.2 for detached far away areas as well.

    • Alex 2 years ago

      Rates are getting hiked in 2022 whether people like it or not. Every 1% increase in rates will likely lead to a >10% decrease in property values. People who bought within the past 9 months are in for a bumpy ride.

      There is huge levels of deflationary pressure for housing on the horizon, and the BoC nor our government has any control over what happens next.

  • Gordon 2 years ago

    Interest rates MUST stay low to support housing. Inflation or not – interest rates MUST stay low.

    • Houseprice 2 years ago

      There is already a speculation that higher interest rate will not impact the property prices. It may however put burden on rentals in GTA which would be 2000+ for a 2 bed apartment.

    • JCH 2 years ago

      Think you’re right – BoC will keep lying about the inflation rate, and that it’s transient, because housing is the most important, too big to fail industry in Canada. The risk of prices coming down is unacceptable and must never be allowed to happen. (So instead they’ll allow inflation to burn and let the dollar devalue – great for exports too!) Pitchforks coming?
      But the hubris in Canada is laughable, since even with all the might of the US govt, they were unable to prevent a housing freefall in 2009. Why could Canada manage the ultimate collapse any better?
      And, I think the US will also be unable to raise rates much or at all anyway, as their stock market is also too big to fail and must be propped up at all costs too.
      So never fear, interest rates will never normalize again, at least until all faith in the USD, CAD, and other major currencies is lost. Absurd, avoidable situation.

  • Jay Cameron 2 years ago

    Remember these stats are on “reported” income. Lots of people in Richmond/Vancouver with $2m dollar houses and/or multiple houses reporting incomes of $50k/year. They only get caught when they get divorced and the wife wants half of the REAL income not half of what is on the tax return.

    • WE 2 years ago

      Money laundering isn’t going to be able to continue with the US and WTO not-so-secretly having talks with Canada about its enforcement. Keep hammering them. They’ve snowwashed the issue way too long.

    • Average Man 2 years ago

      Honest to God if you have an income of $30k and buy a $2mil house it should be an automatic green light for Revenue Canada to rip your life apart

  • expat 2 years ago

    Once again the maritimes don’t seem to exist in statistics.

    • Ben 2 years ago

      No Maritime provinces have joined the HPI. Not sure what it’s like there in terms of access to property records, but I’m guessing if it’s not considered in any of the indexes it’s because it’s prohibitively expensive to collect the data. Manitoba notably isn’t available either.

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