Is there a typical home buyer in Metro Vancouver? |

March 30, 2016

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

These trends have residents wondering, who is buying homes in Metro Vancouver1 today? Are millennials being priced out? Are retirees downsizing? Are investors driving the market?

To shed some light on these questions, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) sends Realtors who represented a buyer in a sale over the previous 30-day period2 a home buyer demographic survey each month. 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, 2015-16 REBGV president. “We’ve conducted this poll over several years and some consistent themes have emerged.”

Home buyer description

Since 2015, first time home buyers account 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 make 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 accounts for 34 per cent of all activity and young couples with no children make up 18.5 per cent of all activity.

Retirees (eight per cent) and empty nesters (seven per cent) both represent less than ten per cent of Metro Vancouver home sales according to last month’s survey.

Home buyer residency

The clear majority of buyers, around 82 per cent, are already living in Metro Vancouver when they make their purchase. The next largest group of buyers migrate from other areas in BC and Canada. Roughly eight per cent of home buyers come from outside Canada.

Financing trends

Just over 60 per cent of buyers pay for their homes using traditional mortgages with at least a 25 per cent down payment. Cash purchases and high ratio mortgages make 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.

1Areas covered by Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver include: Whistler, Sunshine Coast, Squamish, West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Richmond, Port Moody, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, and South Delta.

2Data collected from REBGV Market Survey, March 2015-February 2016