Are the interest-free housing loans for first-time buyers a good idea? [OPINION]

vancouver street with houses

On December 15th 2016, Premier Christy Clark unveiled a new loan program for the first-time home buyers. This loan program will lend money to the first-time home buyers who cannot come up with the downpayment. The loan will be interest-free for up to 5 years.

There has been some criticism for this program. The primary criticism is that it will actually make housing more unaffordable. Which is the opposite of its purpose.

From my experience most first-time buyers are looking for 1 bedroom condos. For the most part the 1 bedroom condo market in Greater Vancouver is a ‘seller’s market’. (Read more about: Burnaby 1 bedroom condo market here.)  There is a lot of demand for these “starter” 1 bedroom units but not a lot of supply. By making it easier for the first-time home buyers to get into the real estate market the demand for these units is likely to go up. The increase in the demand will of course lead to the increases in price.

On the other hand, it’s very hard for young people to save up enough money for the downpayment. This program will potentially help many first-time buyers get into the real estate market sooner than they would with out. In most cases buying it’s better than renting. With the low interest rates mortgage payment are almost the same as rent.

In my opinion this program will cause the prices for “starter” condos and townhouses to go up in the long run. What Metro Vancouver but especially the City of Vancouver needs it to green-light more development projects. We need to change zoning bylaws for many of Vancouver areas and start building more strata condo buildings. There is a lot of demand and not a lot of supply. To make Vancouver real estate market more affordable we must increase the inventory.

If you are a first-time buyer thinking of getting into the real estate market in Metro Vancouver I suggest getting started as soon as possible. Don’t wait until the prices of the “starter” units go up thanks for the very program.