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How to Afford a Home in Squamish?

How to Afford a Home in Squamish?

Hudson pic

By Paul Hudson
Published: Aug. 30, 2014

 

Like any other real estate market, purchasing a home in Squamish requires a game plan.  Determining what you can afford and creating a budget are both good starting points. When factoring both of these items, you may still ask yourself  “what are some justifications for financing real estate when Squamish is more expensive than other rural BC markets?”
 
 

Realizing Squamish Is An Affordable Option To Vancouver & Whistler 
 

Location, location, location. Chances are you have heard this one before, especially if you already rent in Squamish. With average housing prices in Whistler and Vancouver significantly higher, Squamish is still a bargain in comparison. In addition, Squamish makes for a good alternative to the Vancouver suburbs to the east, especially if you are a person who enjoys an outdoor lifestyle close to the big city.


Getting Out Of The Rental Market 
 

It is no secret finding a rental property in Squamish has become a bigger challenge than the years leading up to the 2010 Olympics. With vacancy rates quoted close to 0 percent, rental availability has become an even bigger problem than home prices. Although rental rate increases of 35 percent over 18 months sounds inflationary initially, rental rates in Squamish have been a bargain in the past and are more on par with Whistler and Vancouver now.

What this indicates is Squamish has successfully become as desirable a place to live as the two communities north and south of us. Although rental rates have increased drastically, house prices have only increased slightly over the past 18 months, with townhomes being slightly lower in value than what was listed in 2013. In fact, condo prices can be considered a big investment opportunity with prices about 20 percent lower now than in 2009.


Finding A Mortgage Helper (rental income)
 

Thinking of buying a property larger than a one-bedroom condo? Buying a property with a mortgage helper may be the way to go. Although the cherished house with the completed legal basement suite is a hard gem to find, there are other ways to be entrepreneurial with your real estate purchase. If you buy a home with more than one bedroom, consider renting out a bedroom or two to friends or seasonal residents.

Depending on the property you buy, $500-$1000/mo. will easily offset a significant amount of your mortgage cost. Although many financial institutions may only accept suite income from a separate legal suite, many will consider rental income if your employment income supports your debt or they may consider a co-signor.

For many, it has been a mystery why property values have been lower in Squamish than the communities north and south of us for so many years, given the location. That being said, Squamish has not been the cheapest real estate market in Canada either. Choosing a financial strategy backed with proper justification will certainly help you decide whether owning real estate in Squamish is right for you.