Living in cramped spaces is everyday life for many families. Because of the high cost of housing, many have to make do with whatever they can afford.
In Vancouver, city staff estimated that more than 8,000 families with at least one parent and a child were living in a studio or a one-bedroom apartment in 2011.
Ryan Chahl, a 29-year-old entrepreneur, is thinking about settling down. He wants to provide adequate housing for his future family.
“I’m kind of looking for a home that could potentially support a family,” Chahl told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.
That means a three-bedroom house “with some room to grow”.
“I’m trying to plan for the future and think ahead,” Chahl said.
For now, his plan doesn’t include selling the Port Moody condo he bought four years ago. “It’s an asset that I can grow equity in,” he said about the two-bedroom property where he lives on his own, and which he intends to rent out eventually.
He used to live with his parents before he purchased his apartment with a five-percent down payment.
Chahl’s challenge is how to secure a new mortgage.
Aimal Pamir, who was his mortgage broker for his condo purchase, has advised him that because he is self-employed, it’s not going to be easy.
According to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, the federal Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions requires from individuals working for themselves a minimum down payment of 35 percent of the purchase price to qualify for a loan.
In 2016, Chahl set up his own consulting and project-management firm. Chahl related that his business is doing well, giving him the confidence to approach a major bank for a mortgage.
“It’s kind of been the vehicle for me to start making those heavy savings that are required to be able to buy a home in Vancouver or near Vancouver, at least,” he said.
Getting the bank to approve a mortgage will likely take a bit of time.
Like the more than 400,000 self-employed people in B.C., Chahl has to prove that his business is viable. According to him, banks typically require three years’ proof of income. If he wants to make a purchase in six months to a year, he said that he may have to produce a 50-percent down payment.
Chahl holds a business-administration degree from SFU. For him, the housing market isn’t just a game in which he wants to make a quick buck.
“It’s something that I’m investing in, going in long-term with the kind of goal of seeing those assets appreciate long-term, not kind of flip them in a year or two,” he said.
Chahl expects home prices to gradually decline, which is generally in line with the latest projections by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). According to the CREA forecast issued on March 15, home prices in B.C. will shrink by more than five percent in 2017.
Chahl is not worried that the property market has risen so fast that it can only head for a crash. In September last year, Swiss bank UBS reported that Vancouver is number one on its global list of cities with the highest bubble risk.
“Over the next year, maybe two, you’re going to see a decrease in prices, but I can’t imagine…a bubble bursting where over six months you see a decrease of 30 or 40 percent,” he said.
As in his first purchase, his realtor and older brother, Adam Chahl, is around to help him acquire a second property. “Adam, being who he is, I have absolutely no issues trusting him,” he said.
Chahl said he’s happy with the way things are going for him.
His long-time girlfriend lives in a neighbouring city 10 minutes away from his condo. There are lots of trails nearby where they can hike and walk her three dogs.
Chahl can see the two of them growing a family together in the future: “That’s the plan.”