Home Canada Real Estate Will Your Love Last for Years to Come? Because Saving for a Home Will
Image: Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock.com

Will Your Love Last for Years to Come? Because Saving for a Home Will

Couples need up to 27 years to save enough money to buy a home in Canada's largest cities. But, for single buyers, a lifetime might not be enough.

by Andra Hopulele
1.6K views
6 min. read

Buying a home is a hurdle race, and the down payment is the first — and possibly most discouraging — obstacle. That’s because, for many, 20% is simply out of reach. For others, even 5% seems utopian. So, what about a 50% down payment? Or even 80%?

Realistically speaking, these are the numbers that potential homebuyers need to contemplate. In order to get an affordable mortgage — meaning one that wouldn’t eat up more than 30% of their income — buyers would have to cover what the loan doesn’t, which could represent much more than the traditional 20% that everyone expects. 

Whether they’re single or a couple, covering the difference between the home price and the mortgage is an incredible financial effort. And, based on the 50/30/20 rule (where 20% of the income should go toward savings), it’s a lengthy one, as well: It would take years upon long years to save enough to buy a home, so home seekers could rightfully start feeling like homeownership is not an attainable goal.

Plus, speaking in percentages doesn’t even begin to describe the tough conditions in Canada’s most expensive urban centres: In the 16 cities where the benchmark home price is higher than $1 million, even a starter home (priced at half the local composite price) seems out of reach.

However, a few of Canada’s largest cities are breaking this bleak trend and emerging as real homeownership havens: There, no matter if they’re single or coupled, first-time buyers have an almost equal chance at becoming homeowners without spending their entire lives saving for their home.

So, which Canadian cities had the shortest saving timeframes for singles and couples? And were there any large urban hubs where single buyers could save up in as little time as couples?

 

  • If they want an affordable mortgage, saving enough money to cover the difference between the price of a starter home and the bank loan would take both single and coupled homebuyers quite a few years.
  • 4 or 29 Years: The nationwide average to save enough for a starter home (meaning a home half the composite price) is now nearly 4 years for couples and close to 29 years for single people.
  • 3 to 75 Years: That’s how much time a buyer on a single income would need to cover the difference between the affordable bank loan and the starter home price in Canada’s 70 largest cities.
  • 2 to 27 Years: Couples fared better, but would still need 27 years at most to save enough in the priciest markets, as compared to less than two years in 11 of Canada’s largest and more affordable cities.
  • Fast-Lane Cities: In Strathcona County, AB; Lévis, QC; and Regina, SK, the difference between singles and couples’ timeframes for saving was the shortest. This means the affordability gap between single buyers and couples was the smallest, and buyers would have almost equal chances at becoming owners, no matter their status.
  • Marathon Cities: At the other end of the spectrum, in Richmond Hill, ON, single-income buyers would need nearly 50 years more than couples to save enough for their future home. Newmarket, ON, and Vaughan, ON, rounded out the top three with a 40-year difference.

 

Singles vs. Couples Saving for Homeownership

Fast Lane to Homeownership: Top Cities Where It’s Fastest for Both Singles & Couples to Save for Their Dream Starter Home

In 10 cities, the gap in saving timeframes for singles and couples was less than 5 years.

 

They say that if you want to go fast, you should go alone, and if you want to go far, you’d better partner up.

However, 10 large cities across Canada seemed to disprove this proverb: Despite the income disparity, both single homebuyers and couples looking for a home would need very similar periods of time to save enough to cover the amount left after calculating the maximum affordable mortgage loan.

 

 

Notably, Strathcona County, AB; Regina, SK; and Lévis, QC, have managed the impossible: In these places, the gap in saving time between singles and couples was less than two years. This means buyers on a single income would not be doomed to save forever. In fact, given the different loan and insurance conditions, as well as the more affordable starter home prices, single buyers would need less than three years to gather the money.

What’s more, in these “fast-lane” cities, it’s not just the incomes or the home prices that would make it possible for would-be buyers to save quite rapidly for their starter home — rather, it’s both.

These cities showed that, under the right conditions, homeownership wouldn’t just be possible for both single homebuyers and couples looking for a home, but that both would be able to achieve it in a decent amount of time.

 

Homeownership Marathon: Which Cities Have the Biggest Gaps in Saving Timeframes for Single vs. Coupled Homebuyers?

In cities like Richmond Hill, ON; Newmarket, ON; and Vaughan, ON, pairing up may be the only viable path to homeownership.

 

Saving up for a home is a Catch-22 situation: No matter how motivated the buyers, they need a higher income to save faster. But, the cities where they can earn more also have the most expensive homes.

Being in a relationship or pooling money with a friend doesn’t help either. Although a couple could save faster, they’d also need a bigger home than someone embarking on this arduous journey on their own.

Nowhere was this more obvious than in some of Canada’s most expensive real estate markets. In these cities, home prices were somewhere in the stratosphere, but incomes were more down to earth than both singles and couples looking for property would like them to be. This means that buyers on an individual income — as well as home seekers starting from a double income — would need a formidable amount of time to save: Couples’ saving time would go up to nearly 30 years, while singles would be looking at timeframes up to 70 years.

 

 

That’s because, given the high home prices and the not-high-enough incomes in these cities, the amount that buyers would need to cover after securing the loan would still be prohibitive. This would significantly limit first-time buyers’ options, especially in cities where home prices have crossed the $1 million mark — and are still rising.

Currently, there are 16 cities where the composite home price was higher than $1 million. In Richmond Hill, ON, it’s a little more than $1.4 million. Unsurprisingly, these were also the cities where potential homebuyers on a single or couple income would encounter the most discouraging hurdles.

Therefore, finding a starter home could be the only way for many would-be buyers to get on the property ladder. But that’s also tricky. Finding a starter home is a unicorn hunt in many of Canada’s most populous, in-demand urban centres, making this step another obstacle on first-time buyers’ road to homeownership.

 

 

 

Methodology

Point2, a division of Yardi Systems Inc., covers real estate trends and news. Point2 studies are based on internal data, public records, governmental sources, online research, and other reliable third-party agencies.

  • For this study, we took into consideration the 70 largest Canadian cities, according to the most recent population data from StatCan.
  • We used the 50/30/20 rule (where 20% of the income should go towards savings) to calculate and compare the years required to save up for a down payment by both individuals and couples.
  • Median income for singles (Non-Census Family Households - Household Size = 1) and couples (One Couple - without children - Household Size = 2) were sourced from StatCan 2020, and were adjusted for 2023.
  • Median home prices were sourced from CREA and local realtor boards. The study considered “starter homes” as those homes that were priced at half the local composite price tag.
  • We calculated the mortgage amount that an individual and a couple would be eligible for based on their respective incomes, assuming a monthly mortgage payment (including insurance and taxes) that wouldn't represent more than 30% of the median income. We also assumed a 5-year, fixed-rate mortgage with an interest rate of 6.39%, which is in line with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, conventional mortgage lending rate, 5-year term for December 2023, with an amortization period of 25 years.
  • Tax rates were sourced from Forbes; Homeowners insurance values were sourced from Moneysense.
  • We then calculated the difference between the maximum affordable mortgage and local starter home price (also referred to as down payment) needed to save to purchase a starter home. In situations where the down payment was less than 20% of the starter home price, we defaulted to a minimum of 20%.

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.

You may also like