Photo: James Bombales

In a traditional sense, buying real estate is considered to be one of biggest relationship milestones for Canadians: you meet your partner, possibly get married, and decide to combine your buying power to break into the market. However, in the more current day and age, a dual-owned household is actually no longer the norm.

According to the latest Census data compiled by Statistics Canada, single-income households are now the most common in the nation, indicating Canadians are increasingly less likely to wait for a partner to make their home purchase, or are perhaps exploring real estate investment options on their own. In fact, the number of solo dwellers has doubled from 1.7 million in 1981 to four million today – and a total of 50 percent of these households are also homeowners. As well, single homeowners tend to gravitate towards condos, which are the most financially feasible given a single income and credit score has less pull with lenders than two. 

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More Canadians are buying real estate solo

While the number of single buyers is on the rise, they’re not necessarily having a lot of success in Canada’s largest housing markets such as Toronto and Vancouver, where the average home (based on all combined home types) still breaches the $800,000 to $1 million range.

To see just how far single-buyer affordability would go in these markets, as well as across Canada, Zoocasa calculated the minimum downpayment required to purchase a benchmark condo apartment in 15 cities. 

Those amounts were compared to the median after-tax income for single households in each city, and then we determined how many months it would take for that homebuyer to amass the needed downpayment funds, assuming they could set aside 100 percent of their income.

Affordability crunched in the Toronto and Vancouver markets

As expected, single homebuyers will find it most financially challenging to buy a condo in Vancouver, where the benchmark price for a unit comes to $656,700. That would require a downpayment of $40,670, which is actually more than what a median single-income household would earn in an entire year in the city. Should that individual set aside all of their earnings to save for a downpayment, it would take them 14.4 months to pull together the needed cash.

Meanwhile, Toronto condos for sale are priced slightly lower, and households earn slightly more – but it’s still a struggle for solo purchasers to get into the market. In the 416, a benchmark condo comes to $558,000, requiring a down payment of $30,800. For those earning the median income of $35,294, it would take them 10.5 months to set aside the required funds.

Check out the infographic below to see how affordability differs for single homebuyers across Canada:

Penelope Graham is the Managing Editor at Zoocasa, a full-service brokerage that offers advanced online search tools to empower Canadians with the data and expertise they need to make more successful real estate decisions. View real estate listings, including sold house prices in Toronto, on or download our free iOS app.

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