The Georgia Straight - - Front Page - Real Es­tate Car­l­ito Pablo

Steve Gosling and his fam­ily are mov­ing into a brand­new town­home this fall. It’s in Maple Ridge, and con­struc­tion is on­go­ing.

“We ac­tu­ally skipped look­ing at Van­cou­ver it­self,” Gosling said in a phone in­ter­view with the Ge­or­gia

Straight. “There was no way we’re go­ing to find any­thing in Van­cou­ver. It was just way over our price range.”

There are three of them in the fam­ily. Gosling and his wife are both 31. His stepchild is en­ter­ing Grade 7 this Septem­ber.

They’re rent­ing a 700-square­foot ground-level suite in a de­tached house in Burn­aby, near the tech com­pany where Gosling works. They wanted a place big enough for them to grow into, and stay for a long time.

“We did wind up get­ting a larger prop­erty, and the only way to get that was to go far away from Van­cou­ver proper. That was part of what drove us,” Gosling said. “There was a lot of places that we found that we like, but were just not that big.”

Their new 1,700-square-foot-plus town­home has four bed­rooms and three bath­rooms, and cost nearly $500,000.

“My wife and I reg­u­larly look at each other and gig­gle ex­cit­edly be­fore ex­claim­ing ‘We’re go­ing to have a pantry!’ ” Gosling said.

He added that he’s no longer wor­ried about get­ting priced out of the mar­ket. But he’s kick­ing him­self for not mak­ing the jump ear­lier.

“I’ve had a proper tech job for about six years now,” Gosling said. “And so for a lot of that was while I was a bach­e­lor, and I could have bought a place all my own and… prob­a­bly had it all paid off by now. When I re­mem­ber first look­ing at con­dos, buy­ing a condo out­right was about as much as we’re do­ing for a down pay­ment on our town­house. And so, if we had done that be­fore, [and] prop­erty val­ues went up, we would be get­ting a place a lot closer, that’s for sure.”

Be­fore, Gosling thought that if he rented, saved, and in­vested his money, he would build wealth com­pa­ra­ble to the re­turns of own­ing a home.

Look­ing back, Gosling said, “I just don’t think that that was true. I think there was a lot of ra­tio­nal­iza­tion, and me try­ing to be smarter than I was. And what I re­ally needed to do was sit down, get a down pay­ment to­gether, and then just get it done.”

More than 10 years ago, the UBC Cen­tre for Ur­ban Eco­nomics and Real Es­tate re­leased a pa­per ti­tled “Are Renters Be­ing Left Be­hind? Home­own­er­ship and Wealth Ac­cu­mu­la­tion in Cana­dian Cities”.

“It is not that renters can­not in many ar­eas build wealth sim­i­lar to that of own­ers, but that to do so de­mands a level of dis­ci­pline that most North Amer­i­can house­holds have shown them­selves un­able to achieve,” the pa­per noted. “As well, they must fol­low in­vest­ment pat­terns that are not the norm for small in­vestors. This sug­gests that a tremen­dously sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fit of home­own­er­ship for in­di­vid­u­als is that the con­straint of mort­gage pay­ments ef­fec­tively forces home buy­ers to save by build­ing eq­uity through the re­pay­ment.”

As first-time home­buy­ers, Gosling said he and his wife found that work­ing with a re­al­tor gave them the con­fi­dence that they’re “not mak­ing a mis­take” along the way.

“Our re­al­tor Darin Germyn helped us to make sure it was a rep­utable seller and a rea­son­able val­u­a­tion, and we de­cided to go in on it,” he said about the vice pres­i­dent of the Fraser Val­ley Real Es­tate Board. “Darin helped us a lot with the me­chan­ics of the process: how to make an of­fer, how to put clauses on there, sug­ges­tions for which clauses to put on, clos­ing the deal, et cetera. The works.”

Gosling is as­tounded by how home prices just keep go­ing up.

Over the last 10 years, the price of a typ­i­cal home in Metro Van­cou­ver has risen by al­most 91 per­cent.

“I don’t know how that could be sus­tain­able with­out wages fol­low­ing suit,” Gosling said.

Two years ago, the Vancity credit union noted in the pa­per “Down­siz­ing the Cana­dian Dream: Home­own­er­ship Re­al­i­ties for Mil­len­ni­als and Be­yond” that if trends con­tinue, an av­er­age home in Van­cou­ver will cost more than $2.1 mil­lion by 2030.

This means that monthly mort­gage pay­ments will ex­ceed house­hold in­come by eight per­cent in Van­cou­ver.

Mov­ing to the sub­urbs may no longer be an op­tion in the fu­ture. What the Vancity pa­per found “most con­cern­ing is the re­al­ity that even the cur­rently af­ford­able com­mu­ni­ties of Maple Ridge, New West­min­ster, Pitt Mead­ows and Port Co­quit­lam will be­come unaf­ford­able to the av­er­age house­hold within 15 years”.

Steve Gosling says he could af­ford to buy a big­ger home in Maple Ridge.

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