Prince George homes still a good deal, BCNREB report says

The burden of owning a single-family house in Prince George continues to remain well below the level seen in Vancouver and area, according to an annual report released this week by the B.C. Northern Real Estate Board.

The proportion of median household income required to cover mortgage costs, municipal taxes and fees, and utilities for the average single-family home stood at 27.2 per cent in Prince George

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By comparison, it was 125.4 per cent for communities covered by the Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board.

As in past years, the largest contributor to the difference has been price.

As of midway through 2015, single-family homes were selling for $300,903 on average in Prince George. In Vancouver, the going rate was $1.5 million.

Year-over-year, the percentage of income going to home ownership in Prince George declined slightly from 28.3 per cent in 2015 even though the average price stood at $282,254.

Other northern B.C. communities were included in the report. Mackenzie provided the best deal at 20.1 per cent, while Terrace posed the highest burden at 34 per cent.

B.C. Real Estate Association economist Cameron Muir agreed housing in northern B.C. is more affordable but suggested the situation may not be as difficult in the Lower Mainland as the report suggests.

"Nobody's paying 120 per cent of their income to buy a home because that's mathematically impossible," Muir said.

He said most first-time buyers start out with something smaller, such as a condominium, and progress to a single-family house with a yard as they build up equity.

"The price of the next home is the incremental cost of the next home," he said. "It's not like they're buying as a first-time buyer with five or 10 per cent down."

He said land prices pose the biggest difference between markets .

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