It’s cheap to live here, study says

HOUSING PRICES may be rising in the north, but home ownership remains far more affordable than in the Lower Mainland, indicates a study.

  • Apr. 30, 2012 3:00 p.m.

HOUSING PRICES may be rising in the north, but home ownership remains far more affordable than it does in the Lower Mainland, indicates a study prepared for northern realtors.

The study determined it took 30.2 per cent of the median family income in the north last year to cover mortgage costs, municipal taxes and fees and utilities for a single family home.

That’s compared to 90.6 per cent of a median family income being required in Vancouver, placing home ownership in that region virtually out of the running for the average family.

“The extreme unaffordability of housing in Vancouver reached a new reference point of 90.6 per cent, a full three times worse than what is the typical affordability for communities in northern British Columbia,” the study stated.

The largest contributing factor was the average price of a house – $229,000 in the north compared to almost $820,000 in Vancouver.

Terrace placed solidly in the middle of northern affordability with 32.3 per cent of a family’s income being required.

Kitimat came in at 15.3 per cent, making it the most affordable place in the north to buy a home.

“The low index for Kitimat reflects the low average house prices accompanied by the highest reported median income in the region according to the 2006 census,” the study said.

The average median income in Kitimat, according to census data, and for all family types was $84,979.

It took 29.2 per cent of a median family income in Prince Rupert and 32.2 per cent in Smithers.

The study looked at median family incomes from the 2006 census in the communities it surveyed and then examined average house prices.

Mortgage costs were determined taking the average price of a home sold in each community and calculating a 25 year amortization rate in a five-year fixed mortgage after taking into account a downpayment of 25 per cent.

The housing affordability study was prepared for the BC Northern Real Estate Board.

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