Home Canada Real Estate The Price of Being a Homeowner: Canadian Cities Where 1st Year of Ownership Comes Cheaper
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The Price of Being a Homeowner: Canadian Cities Where 1st Year of Ownership Comes Cheaper

Despite good homeowners’ insurance deals or low closing costs & property taxes, it’s hard for other cities to compete with the more reasonable down payments & mortgages that make Québec cities stand out.

by Alexandra Ciuntu
8.8K views
4 min. read
  • Homeownership is more doable in some cities than in others: The cost of the first year of ownership in Canada’s most populous cities ranges from $74,342 in Saguenay, QC, to more than five times that in Richmond Hill, ON: $400,733.
  • Saguenay, Trois-Rivières, and Québec City have down payments of less than $59,000, whereas owning a home in Richmond Hill, Markham, and Oakville, ON, comes with $265,000+ down payments.
  • Incidentally, Saguenay, Trois-Rivières, and Québec City also boast the lowest annual mortgage payments of less than $18,000.
  • Buying a home in Edmonton or Calgary, AB, as well as Greater Sudbury, ON, requires the lowest closing costs (less than $2,000), unlike Toronto (almost $29,000) and Vancouver ($23,215).
  • In only 15 of Canada’s 50 largest cities, homebuyers deal with upfront costs of less than $100,000. In Saguenay and Trois-Rivières, these initial expenses amount to less than $60,000.
  • St. John’s, NL, has the most affordable homeowners’ insurance ($780), as well as the second-lowest property taxes ($2,625).
  • In Edmonton, AB, it takes an average of five years to save up and cover all of the upfront costs, whereas it can take 20 years or more in four Ontario cities.

Never has the dream of becoming a homeowner in Canada felt just like that — a dream. As homeownership rates declined to a 20-year low back in 2021, potential buyers might still be inclined to postpone ownership plans due to ongoing inflation and out-of-reach home prices. The first year of homeownership, in particular, can be daunting, given the down payment, closing costs, first mortgage payments, homeowners’ insurance, and property taxes — all new to first-time homebuyers.

Point2 set out to determine the major Canadian cities where the first year of homeownership was easier on the wallets of new buyers. To do so, we took the 50 most populous cities in Canada and analyzed data pertaining to two categories: Upfront costs and annual recurring costs. Upfront costs include closing costs and a 20% down payment based on local benchmark home prices. Annual recurring costs consist of mortgage payments (assuming the conventional, five-year, fixed-rate mortgage with a 5.86% interest rate and a 25-year amortization period), average property tax, and homeowners’ insurance.

To gain more perspective, Point2 also analyzed how many years it would take for the average renter to save up for the upfront costs required to transition into homeownership, then took calculations a step further to see how many years it would take to cover the full cost of the first year of homeownership.

Considering the measures taken to make it easier for Canadian individuals to buy a home —such as the tax-free First Home Savings Account plan or the recently introduced Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians Act—, there’s hope that ownership rates might start to inch up. But, despite financial aid programs and dwindling competition for already-scarce inventory, the costs of homeownership weigh on any potential buyer.

First Year of Homeownership 5 Times More Expensive in Some Ontario Cities Than in Québec

Feeling perpetually priced out of today’s market, buyers have to decide whether to wait it out or bite the bullet — and the cost of the first year of homeownership is essential to making that choice in good conscience.

For example, the first year of homeownership averaged more than $315,000 in Ontario and British Columbia cities such as Richmond Hill, Markham ($383,469), Oakville ($378,122), Vancouver, and Toronto. Perhaps surprisingly, owning in Richmond Hill amounts to more than $400,700 during the first year, making it more expensive for first-time owners than living in Toronto ($315,031) and Vancouver ($331,638). What’s more, the benchmark home price in Richmond Hill is $1,408,500, leading to the highest 20% down payment among all 50 cities analyzed at $281,700.

By comparison, the cost of the first year of homeownership stayed below $100,000 in only 7 of Canada’s most populous cities — Québec’s Saguenay ($74,342), Trois-Rivières, Québec City and Lévis; Regina, SK, St. John’s, NL, and Winnipeg, MB ($95,125). This is largely due to somewhat manageable down payments based on local benchmark home prices, as well as annual mortgage payments of less than $20,000 — which are considerably lower than the likes of Vancouver (almost $71,000) or Vaughan (nearly $79,000). For instance, Saguenay’s latest benchmark price is $254,500, leading to a $50,900 down payment and less than $15,500 in annual mortgage payments.

 

Looking at the top 15 cities where the cost of the first year of homeownership was most affordable, Greater Sudbury was the only Ontario outlier at $119,472. Incidentally, Greater Sudbury enjoys the second-lowest closing costs ($1,888) after Edmonton, AB.

Upfront Costs Less Than $60,000 & Annual Costs Less Than $20,000 Are Possible

Becoming a homeowner starts with covering the upfront costs (the down payment plus an array of one-time closing costs, which might include land or property transfer taxes, legal fees of about $1,750, and home inspection fees), and proceeds with annual expenses (property taxes, homeowners’ insurance and, of course, the mortgage). However, these costs vary considerably depending on location.

To that end, low benchmark prices and average closing costs can make Québec an attractive option for first-time homebuyers. In fact, apart from Montréal, all of the Québec cities analyzed were among the top 15 cities with both the lowest upfront costs, as well as the lowest annual recurring costs.

 

After covering the upfront costs, buyers shift their focus to recurring expenses, particularly the first mortgage payments. Fortunately, online resources, such as local calculators, can help new homeowners in figuring out all of these expenses — from closing costs to property taxes — on a case-by-case basis.

While mortgage payments make up the bulk of annual recurring costs, homeowners’ insurance and property taxes can also go a long way in determining how much first-time owners will end up paying during their first year of homeownership. For example, annual costs in Ontario cities Windsor and Oshawa were inflated by property taxes of more than $10,000 (as well as $1,250 in homeowners’ insurance), despite the cities’ mid-range annual mortgages of $33,829 and $49,306, respectively.

Saving Up for Homeownership: It Takes 5 Years to Cover Upfront Costs in Edmonton, AB, 20+ Years in Markham & Richmond Hill, ON

For new homebuyers, the down payment is the main hurdle — which is particularly difficult for those without outside financial help. Assuming a 20% down payment, we applied the 50/30/20 budgeting rule to calculate how many years potential homebuyers would need to save in order to cover the upfront expenses of buying a home. According to the rule, we assumed a renter household would put 20% of their yearly income toward homeownership.

Turns out, it can take between 5 and 22 years of savings to cover the upfront costs and become a homeowner in Canada’s most populous cities. In the 21 cities where saving is easier, it can take up to 10 years to set aside the amount required to cover the upfront costs of purchasing a home.

 

Therefore, going by the 50/30/20 budgeting rule, renters in Edmonton need to set aside money for five years in order to cover the upfront costs of homeownership. Similarly, it takes six years in Regina, SK, St. John’s, NL, and four Quebec cities, while it can take seven years in cities like Winnipeg, MB, and Saskatoon, SK.

Notably, Ontario cities are the most difficult places to save up for upfront homeownership costs: In Richmond Hill, Markham, Oakville, and Vaughan, it takes at least 20 years. Likewise, renters in Toronto and Burlington, ON, would need 17 years, on average — much like those in Vancouver and Richmond, BC.

Covering the Full First Year of Homeownership: 10 Years or Less in Calgary, Winnipeg & Saskatoon

Meanwhile, if new homeowners factor in a year’s worth of monthly mortgage payments, homeowners’ insurance, and property taxes — on top of one-and-done, upfront expenses — the cost of the first year of homeownership can be even more disheartening.

Assuming a renter household sets aside 20% of the average yearly income, the best-case scenario is that it can take up to 10 years of savings to cover all of the expenses of the first year of homeownership — upfront, as well as annual costs.

The first year of homeownership costs more than $100,000 in Edmonton, and it takes seven years of savings to cover this entire amount. Similarly, it takes eight years in Regina, SK, St. John’s, NL, Québec City, and Saguenay, QC. By comparison, the $400,000+ cost of the first year of homeownership in Richmond Hill, ON, would be covered in 28 years by saving up 20% of the average yearly income.

 

Check out the table below for the main data points used in the study. Use the filters to rank the 50 largest Canadian cities based on any variable of interest, including: down payment (20%), closing costs, mortgage payments, homeowners’ insurance, property taxes, total upfront costs, total annual costs, costs of the first year of homeownership, years necessary to save up in order to cover these costs and more.

CityBenchmark Price1st Year of Homeownership CostsDown Payment (20%)Closing CostsTotal Upfront CostsAnnual Mortgage PaymentsAnnual Homeowners' InsuranceAnnual Property TaxesTotal Annual Recurring CostsAverage Renter Household Income20% of Income AsideYears to Cover the Upfront CostsYears to Cover 1st Year of Homeownership
Toronto, ON$1,067,000$315,031$213,400$28,951$242,351$64,687$1,250$6,743$72,680$70,381$14,0761722
Montréal, QC$525,120$150,738$105,024$8,573$113,597$31,835$984$4,322$37,141$59,264$11,8531013
Calgary, AB$520,900$142,388$104,180$1,904$106,084$31,579$1,000$3,724$36,304$68,785$13,757810
Ottawa, ON$603,900$171,997$120,780$6,441$127,221$36,611$1,250$6,915$44,776$60,750$12,1501014
Edmonton, AB$360,000$100,078$72,000$1,873$73,873$21,825$1,000$3,380$26,205$70,562$14,11257
Winnipeg, MB$323,600$95,125$64,720$5,888$70,608$19,618$1,032$3,867$24,517$53,890$10,77879
Mississauga, ON$1,019,100$290,038$203,820$14,727$218,547$61,783$1,250$8,459$71,491$70,381$14,0761621
Vancouver, BC$1,167,800$331,638$233,560$23,215$256,775$70,798$924$3,141$74,863$73,769$14,7541722
Brampton, ON$1,005,600$287,700$201,120$14,503$215,623$60,964$1,250$9,863$72,077$70,381$14,0761520
Hamilton, ON$754,100$215,975$150,820$8,799$159,619$45,717$1,250$9,389$56,356$59,692$11,9381318
Surrey, BC$921,002$262,240$184,200$18,701$202,901$55,836$924$2,579$59,338$73,769$14,7541418
Québec City, QC$290,601$84,370$58,120$4,728$62,848$17,618$984$2,921$21,522$52,203$10,44168
Halifax, NS$490,700$143,292$98,140$8,959$107,099$29,749$782$5,663$36,193$56,573$11,315913
Laval, QC$463,988$132,786$92,798$6,949$99,747$28,129$984$3,926$33,039$59,264$11,853811
London, ON$547,450$157,169$109,490$5,455$114,945$33,189$1,250$7,785$42,224$56,411$11,2821014
Markham, ON$1,351,500$383,469$270,300$21,267$291,567$81,934$1,250$8,717$91,902$70,381$14,0762127
Vaughan, ON$1,299,100$369,051$259,820$20,353$280,173$78,758$1,250$8,870$88,878$70,381$14,0762026
Gatineau, QC$405,000$118,603$81,000$8,135$89,135$24,553$984$3,931$29,468$58,836$11,767810
Saskatoon, SK$366,000$102,992$73,200$2,836$76,036$22,189$1,100$3,667$26,956$56,153$11,23179
Kitchener, ON$691,300$197,721$138,260$8,412$146,672$41,910$1,250$7,889$51,049$67,524$13,5051115
Longueuil, QC$438,000$128,625$87,600$9,093$96,693$26,554$984$4,394$31,932$59,264$11,853811
Burnaby, BC$1,028,833$292,435$205,767$20,450$226,217$62,373$924$2,922$66,219$73,769$14,7541520
Windsor, ON$558,000$162,527$111,600$5,503$117,103$33,829$1,250$10,345$45,424$40,218$8,0441520
Regina, SK$312,200$88,704$62,440$2,684$65,124$18,927$1,100$3,553$23,580$57,301$11,46068
Oakville, ON$1,327,000$378,122$265,400$21,305$286,705$80,449$1,250$9,718$91,417$70,381$14,0762027
Richmond, BC$1,109,200$314,917$221,840$21,614$243,454$67,245$924$3,294$71,463$73,769$14,7541721
Richmond Hill, ON$1,408,500$400,733$281,700$22,947$304,647$85,390$1,250$9,446$96,086$70,381$14,0762228
Burlington, ON$966,900$274,917$193,380$13,917$207,297$58,618$1,250$7,752$67,620$59,692$11,9381723
Oshawa, ON$813,300$234,508$162,660$10,511$173,171$49,306$1,250$10,781$61,337$67,841$13,5681317
Sherbrooke, QC$337,500$100,214$67,500$7,616$75,116$20,461$984$3,653$25,098$45,571$9,114811
Greater Sudbury, ON$420,700$119,472$84,140$1,888$86,028$25,505$1,250$6,689$33,444$54,929$10,986811
Abbotsford, BC$736,800$210,534$147,360$14,744$162,104$44,668$924$2,838$48,430$70,865$14,1731115
Lévis, QC$309,000$89,246$61,800$4,949$66,749$18,733$984$2,779$22,497$52,203$10,44169
Coquitlam, BC$1,042,600$296,694$208,520$20,644$229,164$63,207$924$3,399$67,530$73,769$14,7541620
Barrie, ON$724,400$207,802$144,880$8,665$153,545$43,917$1,250$9,090$54,257$63,714$12,7431216
Saguenay, QC$254,500$74,342$50,900$3,918$54,818$15,429$984$3,111$19,524$45,678$9,13668
Kelowna, BC$754,085$216,563$150,817$15,843$166,660$45,716$924$3,262$49,903$69,682$13,9361216
Guelph, ON$800,900$228,260$160,180$8,795$168,975$48,554$1,250$9,480$59,285$63,714$12,7431318
Trois-Rivières, QC$270,000$79,517$54,000$4,749$58,749$16,369$984$3,416$20,768$45,892$9,17869
Whitby, ON$1,027,700$295,730$205,540$14,847$220,387$62,304$1,250$11,789$75,343$67,841$13,5681622
Cambridge, ON$731,000$209,276$146,200$8,499$154,699$44,317$1,250$9,010$54,577$67,524$13,5051115
St. Catharines, ON$583,000$167,247$116,600$5,801$122,401$35,344$1,250$8,252$44,846$53,447$10,6891116
Milton, ON$1,045,900$295,504$209,180$14,309$223,489$63,407$1,250$7,357$72,015$70,381$14,0761621
Langley, BC$958,400$272,972$191,680$19,300$210,980$58,103$924$2,965$61,992$73,769$14,7541419
Kingston, ON$538,300$153,888$107,660$4,811$112,471$32,634$1,250$7,533$41,417$58,951$11,7901013
Ajax, ON$977,000$280,939$195,400$14,151$209,551$59,230$1,250$10,908$71,388$70,381$14,0761520
Waterloo, ON$691,800$197,406$138,360$8,026$146,386$41,940$1,250$7,830$51,020$67,524$13,5051115
Terrebonne, QC$411,000$118,309$82,200$6,364$88,564$24,917$984$3,844$29,745$59,264$11,853710
Saanich, BC$866,700$247,753$173,340$17,204$190,544$52,544$924$3,742$57,209$68,607$13,7211418
St. John's, NL$316,300$88,956$63,260$3,115$66,375$19,176$780$2,625$22,581$56,475$11,29568

 

Methodology

As one of the top real estate listing portals for the Canadian market, Point2Homes.com connects real estate agents with buyers looking for the perfect home or real estate investment. Point2 is a trustworthy source of news for professionals and journalists covering real estate topics across Canada.

  • For this study, we considered the 50 largest Census Subdivisions (Cities) based on the most recent population data from Statistics Canada 2021 Census of Population.
  • For upfront costs, the study assumes a 20% down payment, and closing costs which include legal fees (the cost of a lawyer, title insurance, and registration fees) and Land Transfer Tax minus local rebates for first-time homebuyers. For closing costs at national level, we used an average of the 50 cities analyzed.
  • In line with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's conventional mortgage lending rate for January 2023, mortgage payments per city were calculated assuming a 5-year fixed-rate mortgage with an interest rate of 5.86% and an amortization period of 25 years.
  • 2022 homeowners’ insurance was sourced from ratehub.ca (at province level).
  • 2022 property taxes were comprised of the general provincial, municipal, and education portions as posted by the cities analyzed, including provincial assessment value percentages. For property tax at national level, an average of the 50 cities analyzed was used.
  • The number of years needed to save to cover the cost of upfront costs as well as the full first year of homeownership was calculated based on the 50/30/20 budgeting rule stating that 20% of after-tax income should go to savings.
  • For the purpose of this study, we assumed a renter household saves 20% of the average after-tax household income sourced from CMHC at metro level as of 2020; The amount was adjusted for 2022 using an annual average of the weekly earnings growth published by Statistics Canada.              
  • The study uses January 2023 MLS Benchmark Composite Prices for the majority of the cities included in the analysis, with the exception of Montréal, Québec City, Laval, London, Gatineau, Longueuil, Sherbrooke, Lévis, Saguenay, Terrebonne (where we considered Median or Average Sale Prices as per local MLS monthly reports), and Montréal, Surrey, Kelowna, Québec City, Laval, Longueuil, Terrebonne, Gatineau, Sherbrooke, Lévis, Saguenay (where we used a weighted average of the prices for each property type to determine the Composite Price). Where unavailable at city level, we looked at Local MLS Prices at regional level for Ottawa, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Halifax, Gatineau, Windsor, Kelowna, Guelph, Cambridge, Kingston, Saanich, and St. John's.
  • Not included in the study are utilities and municipal services, which one must pay regardless of owning or renting, hence not influencing homeownership costs as much as other strictly owner-related expenses.

 

Fair use and redistribution

We encourage and freely grant permission to reuse, host or repost this article. When doing so, we only ask that you kindly attribute the authors by linking to Point2Homes.com or this page, so that your readers can learn more about this project, the research behind it and its methodology.

 

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