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House prices are on the rise across Canada, including in British Columbia. If you’re thinking about buying a home in this west coast province, you’ll want to do some homework on the prices you can expect to pay in various locations. 

In this article, we’ll provide you with up-to-date information about the average house prices in BC and offer some tips to ensure you buy the right home within your budget.

Key Points You Should Know About The Average House Price In BC

  • The average house price in BC is $964,371. 
  • House prices in Greater Vancouver are the most expensive in BC averaging at $1,168, 700.
  • There are many reasons why average house prices in BC are so high, including strict building codes, high demand and limited supply. 

What Is The Average House Price In BC? 

House prices vary a great deal across Canada. Not only do they range from province to province, but also city to city.

If you are searching for a home in beautiful British Columbia, you’ll be looking at an average price of $964,371 as of  November 2023. That’s an increase of 6.6% over the same month last year. 

There is plenty of demand for housing in British Columbia right now, which is why there has been such a spike in home prices over the past year and is the most expensive province in Canada. Here are the average house prices in some of the most popular cities in BC: 

  1. Greater Vancouver*: $1,168, 700
  2. Fraser Valley*: $988, 900
  3. Victoria*: $858,100

Compare The Average House Price In BC To Canada

Home Prices 2024 Year-Over-Year % Change
British Columbia$964,3716.6%
Newfoundland and Labrador*$291,3004.0%
New Brunswick*$287,9007.1%
Nova Scotia*$390,0005.8%
Prince Edward Island$361,8003.6%
Source: CREA Price Map (November 2023)
*based on MLS HPI benchmark prices

What Is Affecting The Average House Prices In BC?

Like any other commodity, prices are driven by demand. The more demand there is for homes, the higher the price sellers can list their homes at. There are several things that affect demand for homes, and therefore the prices that come with them, including the following:

The Economy

Economic growth is typically synonymous with better income for prospective buyers. The more money people have to spend, the more they can afford on a home purchase. A robust economy is certainly a good thing for housing markets, which can help keep home prices healthy. 

Housing Supply

The basic economics of supply and demand play a key role in the housing market and how much sellers can list for. When there are more houses on the market compared to interested buyers, there will be less demand for homes, since buyers have more to choose from and are not fiercely competing for the same properties. On the other hand, fewer homes on the market compared to buyers will create a much more competitive market, which will increase demand for homes and therefore boost home prices. 

Stringent Building Codes

BC is known for having strict building codes that require a specific standard to be met. As such, it is more difficult and expensive to obtain the necessary permits to build homes in British Columbia, and these costs are typically built into the price of homes in the province. Also, just like Ontario, development charges and levies are high in BC.

Limited Land Close To The Coast And Mainland

Land is not as readily available in areas closer to the lower mainland and the coastline. This drives up land costs and therefore increases the cost of housing. Further away from the lower mainland, land is a lot more affordable in comparison to more densely-populated areas like Greater Vancouver and Fraser Valley.

How Much House Can You Afford In BC?

If money’s no object for you, then crunching the numbers to make sure a home purchase fits well within your budget may not be that important. But if you’re like most Canadians, you’ll need to carefully consider how much you can comfortably afford on a home. And even if you can afford it, you’ll want to set a limit on how much you spend so you don’t wind up “house poor.”

Here are some ways to help you determine how much you should spend on a home purchase. 

Calculate Your Gross Debt Service (GDS) Ratio 

Your GDS refers to the share of your income required to pay all your monthly household expenses, including the principal, interest, taxes, and half of your condo fees, if applicable. 

Most lenders want to see a GDS ratio of no more than 30% to 39%, depending on the specific lender you’re working with. The lower your GDS, the better, as you’ll have more income left over for other expenses.

Your GDS is calculated by adding all your monthly housing costs and dividing it by your gross monthly income. The sum is then multiplied by 100 to give you your GDS ratio.

Calculate Your Total Debt Service (TDS) Ratio

Your TDS refers to the share of your income required to cover all of your debts, including your mortgage. The calculation is the same as it is to calculate your GDS, but this time, all of your monthly debts are factored into the equation, including things like student loans, credit cards, car loans, and personal loans. Lenders want to see a TDS of no more than 44% on average.

Your TDS is calculated by adding all your monthly debts and dividing it by your gross monthly income. The sum is then multiplied by 100 to give you your TDS ratio.

Understand Your Expenses

Your mortgage payments won’t be the only financial obligations you have. Most likely, you have other bills to pay, like your car loan, student loan, and credit card bills, to name a few. Your expenses should be factored into the equation to help you figure out the price point you should be looking at and what your debt requirements will need to be to get approved for a mortgage. 

How Much Do Property Taxes Cost For Houses In BC?

You’ll be spending a few thousand dollars a year on property taxes, depending on exactly where you live and the type of home you live in. Property taxes are based on a percentage rate applied to specific locations, which is then multiplied by your home’s value. 

In the city of Vancouver, for instance, the current property tax rate for residential property is $2.78070 for each $1,000 of net taxable value. So, if your home is currently worth $500,000, your annual property taxes would be approximately $1,139. 

Do You Need Home Insurance To Buy A House In BC?

If you have a mortgage on your home, your lender will require that you take out a home insurance policy. Even if it was not mandated, a home insurance policy is still a good idea to have because it will provide you financial protection if your home is ever damaged or broken into. 

It will also protect your belongings if they’re ever lost or stolen. Plus, this policy will provide financial compensation if you’re ever sued because of harm done to another person in your home.

Other Costs To Consider When Buying A House In BC

There are a number of costs associated with owning and operating a home aside from your mortgage payments. All of these expenses must be considered before you run out and buy a house, even if the price can be squeezed into your budget. 

Here are some of the more common costs of owning a home:

  • Utilities – Your gas, electricity, and internet/phone bills will need to be paid every month in order to ensure that you get service without interruption.
  • Maintenance – Your home and its components will need to be maintained on a regular basis. Otherwise, the condition of your home could deteriorate quickly and its value could drop. 
  • Repairs – Things like the roof, windows, light fixtures, faucets, appliances, and HVAC system can all break down after a few years, which will require attention to bring them back up to code so your home remains in good functioning order.

Should You Buy A House Or Condo? 

When it comes to buying a home, you’ve got choices; namely, freestanding homes or condos. Both come with their own set of perks and drawbacks. The question is, which one should you choose?

Reasons To Buy A Condo

  • More Affordable – Generally speaking, condos are cheaper to buy than houses. So, if you’re trying to save money, a condo may be a more affordable option. Just be mindful of those extra condo fees.
  • Maintenance-Free Living – Since your condo fees go toward the maintenance of the common areas of your building, there’s nothing for you to do to keep up with maintenance chores on your home. 
  • Building Amenities – Condo buildings typically offer on-site amenities to residents, such as fitness rooms, party rooms, and swimming pools.

Reasons To Buy A House

  • More Space, Both Indoors And Outdoors. Houses are usually equipped with more square footage than condos, giving you a lot more space to dwell in. 
  • More Freedom. Living in a condo requires that you abide by the regulations set forth by the condo corporation. There may be rules about pets, BBQs on balconies, parking, and even the colour you paint your front door. In contrast, you’ll have a lot more freedom to do what you want with a house without having to get permission from a condo board.

Final Thoughts

There’s so much to think about when buying a home in British Columbia, with one of the points being price. Take a close look at your finances and credit health, and speak with a mortgage expert before you start the search for a new home to find out how much you can afford. And of course, team up with a seasoned real estate agent who is well-versed in the area you plan to buy in.  

BC House Prices FAQs

Do you have to buy condo fees if you buy a condo? 

If you live in a condo, you’ll need to pay condo fees every month in addition to your mortgage payments. These fees cover the cost of maintaining common areas, such as the parking garage, lobby, fitness centre, and swimming pool.

What does it mean to be house poor?

Many home buyers find themselves suffering from buyer’s remorse after finalizing a purchase transaction. They may have fallen in love with a home and overextended themselves financially, leaving them “house poor.” This means there’s little money left in the pot for other things, including leisurely expenses. 

Can mortgage interest rates affect house prices? 

A huge driver of housing demand is mortgage interest rates. Most buyers take out a mortgage to buy a home, which comes with interest rates. The thing is, rates have a direct influence on how affordable mortgages are. Higher interest rates mean lower affordability and vice versa. Lower rates can decrease what borrowers pay in mortgage payments, which can boost housing demand and push up home prices.

Lisa Rennie avatar on Loans Canada
Lisa Rennie

Lisa has been working as a personal finance writer for more than a decade, creating unique content that helps to educate Canadian consumers in the realms of real estate, mortgages, investing and financial health. For years, she held her real estate license in Toronto, Ontario before giving it up to pursue writing within this realm and related niches. Lisa is very serious about smart money management and helping others do the same.

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