Marketplace srvey: Is there a ‘typical’ home buyer in Metro Vancouvuer?

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

The Vancouver Sun

Home buyer competition is intense in today’s housing market and multiple offer situations have become commonplace.

These trends have many people wondering, who are buying homes in Metro Vancouver* today? Are young people being priced out? Are retirees downsizing? Are investors driving the market?

To shed some lights on these questions, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) sends a home buyer demographic survey each month to Realtors who represented a buyer in a sale over the previous 30-day period. Between 150 and 200 Realtors regularly complete the survey.

“This feedback, while not scientific, gives us a deeper understanding of the trends in the marketplace,” said Darcy McLeod, REBGV president. “We’ve conducted this poll over several years and some consistent themes have emerged.”

Over the last 12 months, firsttime home buyers have accounted for 32 per cent of Metro Vancouver home sales, according to the survey, and 21 per cent of home buyers are people moving from one property to another similar property in the region.

Speculation of real estate investor activity is much-discussed in social and traditional media today. REBGV’s survey finds that nearly one in five homes sold to real estate investors last year with domestic investors (15 per cent) making up the largest portion of these purchases. Foreign investors made up less than five per cent of all property sales in the region.

Home buyer demographic

Young families with children are active in today’s market. This group accounted for 34 per cent of all activity and young couples with no children made up 18.5 per cent of all activity over the last year, according to the survey.

Retirees (eight per cent) and empty nesters (seven per cent) both represented less than ten per cent of Metro Vancouver home sales last month.

Home buyer residency

The clear majority of buyers, around 82 per cent, were already living in Metro Vancouver when they made their purchase. The next largest group of buyers migrated from other areas in BC and Canada. Roughly eight per cent of home buyers came from outside Canada in the last year, according to the survey.

Financing trends

Just over 60 per cent of buyers paid for their homes using traditional mortgages with at least a 25 per cent down payment. Cash purchases and high ratio mortgages made up for the remaining 40 per cent in nearly equal proportions.

“While the volume of home sales has increased in recent months, the characteristics of people buying in our market remains relatively constant according to this monthly research,” McLeod said.

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