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

These trends have everyone wondering who is buying homes in Metro Vancouver today?1 Are millenials being priced out? Are retirees downsizing? Are investors driving the market?

To shed some light on these questions, we send a home buyer demographic survey each month to members who represented a buyer in a sale over the previous 30-day period2. Between 150 and 200 REALTORS® regularly complete the survey. Our analysis is based on an average of the last 12 months of responses.

“This feedback, while not scientific, gives us a deeper understanding of the trends in the marketplace,” says Dan Morrison, Board president. “We’ve conducted this poll over several years and some consistent themes have emerged.”

Home buyer trends (2015 - 2016 averages)

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Since 2015, first-time home buyers have, on average, accounted 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. Our 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

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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 represented less than 10 per cent of Metro Vancouver home sales according to the survey.

Home buyer residency

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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, according to the survey.

Financing trends

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On average, 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 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,” Morrison says.

Footnotes

  1. Areas covered by the REBGV 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. 
  2. Data collected from REBGV Market Survey, March 2015 - February 2016

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