Get money-saving tips in your inbox.

Stay on top of personal finance tips from our money experts!

News & Resources

Houses Under $500,000 a Disappearing Breed

June 24, 2021
5 mins
Beautifully decorated interior of home

Remember when half a million bucks used to be a lot of money?

For those who didn't get the memo, apparently it has stopped being a lot of money for house shoppers in Canada.

You can still buy an average home in Canada for a half-mil, if you time travel back to March 2016. That's the last time the national "benchmark" detached dwelling cost that much. Since then, it's smashed the $500k barrier and zoomed another 62%.

Benchmark home price.png

Where Do You Live if $500k is Your Breaking Point?

Here’s a sample of what you can buy if you are bargain shopping at $500,000 (see link).

If you like the Maritimes, the Prairies or smaller pockets of Quebec and Ontario, you’re "living large."

If your livelihood happens to be in the GTA or GVA, sorry about your luck.

Even a prototypical 'burb like Milton, ON — 45 minutes from downtown Toronto on a good day — returns the dreaded “No results” when searching for that $500k unicorn on Realtor.ca.

realtor.ca.png

Today's Featured RatesUpdated 11:52 ET on Apr 19, 2024

Rates are based on a $300,000 mortgage.

card image
3.60%
Term
3 Yr Variable
Loan to value
80.01% to 95%
Insurance
Insured
Rate held until
Jul 20
card image
1.99%
Term
5 Yr Variable
Loan to value
80.01% to 95%
Insurance
Insured
Rate held until
Aug 19
card image
1.67%
Term
5 Yr Fixed
Loan to value
80.01% to 95%
Insurance
Insured
Rate held until
Jun 05

If you want to drive (or Go Bus and then Go Train) a little further — from Cambridge, Ontario, for example — your dollars go further. House listings actually appear on Realtor.ca at that price point. But if you’re working down in the big city, you better enjoy 1.5-hour commutes.

“Drive till you qualify” has been a mortgage industry mantra for years. But to know how far you need to drive, you must first know what you qualify for. That’s a number best provided by a professional mortgage broker or lender advisor, but here’s a quick mortgage affordability calculator to give you a sense.

Quick example: $100,000 of household income and no other debts will get you close to that mystical $500,000 price point for a single-family home, assuming you have the minimum 5% ($25,000) down payment. (By the way, only about 29% of Canadian families earn that much, and only 16% of individual earners.)

If you’re an average Canadian family whose bread winner(s) can work remote, your best shot at a half-mil house may be in a small town. Check out the best such towns in RATESDOTCA’s 2021 Livability Report.

If you have to clock in at a business-place each day, and you don't have a ton of assets, your options are more limited — even with a six-figure income and minimal debt. That is, unless you have the great equalizer: well-off generous parents.

Rob McLister

Rob McLister has been informing mortgage consumers and professionals since 2007. In that time, he’s written more than 2,500 mortgage stories for publications ranging from the Globe and Mail — where he presently serves as mortgage columnist — to the National Post, Maclean’s, Canadian Mortgage Trends and RateSpy.com. Regularly quoted throughout the media, Rob is a committed advocate of greater transparency in the mortgage industry. He’s also been a vocal consumer advocate for more sensible mortgage regulation. In 2011, he launched two mortgage fintechs: mortgage comparison website RateSpy.com and digital mortgage broker intelliMortgage Inc. The former is the go-to source of Canadian mortgage news and the only site comparing all publicly advertised prime mortgage rates. The latter is Canada's leading online mortgage provider for self-directed borrowers. Both companies were acquired in 2019 by RATESDOTCA Group Ltd.

Latest mortgage articles

What does the federal budget for 2024 have to say about housing?
2024 federal budget key takeaways: Goals to boost housing supply and affordability by freeing up land, incentivizing builders, and reducing mortgage payments.
5 mins read
Should you buy a house right now, or wait until interest rates come back down?
House prices are slightly lower right now, but interest rates are still high. Ahead of a hot spring market, where does this leave Canadians looking to buy property?
5 mins read
How much down payment do I need?
Down payment size is a constant question among homebuyers. Many assume, “bigger is better.” But is it?
5 mins read

Subscribe to our newsletter

Stay on top of our latest offers, relevant news and tips!

Thanks for joining!

You'll be hearing from us shortly - stay tuned.