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A buyer’s market may be emerging in the Lower Mainland but, for many, housing prices remain out of reach.
Rising interest rates will likely mean fewer buyers and a slowdown in average price increases. A general downward trend in home sales volumes and average prices across the province is expected. Still, the average price of a home likely won’t be dipping much below $1 million any time soon.
So what’s a prospective buyer to do? Well, they don’t mind looking outside of the Lower Mainland and into some other corners of the province, relatively reasonably priced homes can still be found. Drawing on a 2022 Moving Waldo survey and a 2021 Zolo analysis of the most affordable places to live in BC, we narrowed down the contenders to five based on supply, variety, and a price tag hovering around $500k. (Prices in effect as of Aug. 2.)
“While cities and towns outside of the Lower Mainland had seen significant pressure on pricing during the pandemic, there are still places upward in BC where $500,000 goes a pretty long way,” realtor Mary Cleaver of the Mary Cleaver Group said.
“With recent interest rate hikes, homes in many of these areas have begun to see home prices decline. I suspect further moves by the Bank of Canada could lead to more affordability in secondary markets in the coming months.”
It may be the commercial hub of the North Okanagan, but Vernon consistently places on the most-affordable lists. However, many of the houses available in the $500k range are on leased land. Most, if not all, product for that price or less, and on non-leased land, are townhomes, like a two-bedroom, two-bathroom 1,190-square-foot residence priced at $499,900.
2. Prince George
This sunny northern BC town of 74,000 is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and financially strapped homebuyers. Half-a-million can still purchase a house with three, four, five or even six bedrooms, and there’s a fair amount on the market. We like a split-level three-bedroom home with a big backyard and a flex space currently set up as a martial arts dojo. It’s going for $485,000 but, as the listing says, “At this price point, this home won’t last long!”
Sitting on the east coast of Vancouver Island, the namesake of the famous dessert bar and birthplace of Diana Krall has mostly condos and townhomes for half-a-million dollars and under. A $489,000 two-bedroom, two-bathroom 994-square-foot townhouse in the Pleasant Valley neighborhood is near amenities and opens onto a landscaped backyard. A two-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,091-square-foot condo near Long Lake is listed at $499,900. Also available: a two-bedroom, one-bathroom, 884-square-foot house near downtown, with nine-foot-high ceilings, a claw-foot tub, and a small view of the ocean from the deck. Built in 1914, it’s definitely a fixer-upper.
The sky’s the limit for half-a-million loonies in this South Okanagan town—if a buyer is in the market for a townhouse or condo. A three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,500-square-foot townhouse with a view of Penticton Creek is priced at $495,000, and a two-bedroom, two-bathroom 1,085-square-foot condo located alongside the same creek is going for $4 k more. A three-bed, two-bath home in a townhouse complex priced at $499,900 shares an outdoor pool with other units. The bonus of living in Penticton is, of course, access to the mountains, parks, and lakes that make the area a favorite of golfers, hikers, boaters, and skiers.
The West Kootenay city of 11,000 boasts a thriving cultural scene, a brewery, and close proximity to the Whitewater Ski Resort and other outdoor activities. Buying-wise, Nelson’s housing product for $500k or less includes houses, townhomes, and duplexes. A three-bed, two-bath 1,230-square-foot heritage home priced at $484,888 features a deck and is close to a picturesque downtown of heritage buildings.
Metro Vancouver’s first-time homebuyers’ guide
Old, newer, or newest? The pros and cons of purchasing an older versus newer condo
Q&A: First-time homebuyers face sticker shock from hidden costs
A look at financial help and incentives for first-time homebuyers in BC
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