Home search: Rising rents spur purchase of condo in Surrey

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      Mona Bector says she got tired of renting. She didn’t want to deal anymore with the stress of finding a nice place that was also affordable. So she decided to buy a home.

      In June this year, Bector moved into a one-bedroom condo with a den. It’s located in Surrey, where she works as an employment specialist. Now she can breathe easy.

      “I was looking for a den where I can make my own temple,” Bector told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview. “I can make my own meditation room.”

      She used to have a roommate, and once they were looking at a basement suite that was being offered for $1,000 a month.

      The place was very small and there wasn’t much they could fit into it. According to Bector, the rooms were so tiny that they didn’t have closets.

      The two women eventually settled on another place with two bedrooms. Their $900 rent included all the amenities. But then something happened and her roommate had to move out, leaving Bector to pay for everything.

      “Again it was giving me stress, that I need to find another roommate,” Bector recalled.

      She eventually found a two-bedroom basement suite for $750. She thought she could get a new roommate to split the rent, but the landlord didn’t want another tenant because the rent already included hydro and cable.

      “I decided in January [2017] that it’s not going to work because it’s costing me $750,” Bector said. “It’s better I pay mortgage.”

      With her current $803 monthly mortgage, Bector said she made a good choice.

      Illustrating the difficulties faced by tenants, Bector said the old place for which she used to pay $750 is now being rented out for $1,100.

      Renting is considered a practical option for many who cannot afford to buy a home in Metro Vancouver.

      But according to a July 2016 report by the Vancouver City Savings Credit Union, or Vancity, renting may no longer be a viable choice for a number of people because of rising costs and low vacancy rates.

      Titled Rent Race: The Growing Unaffordability of Rent in Metro Vancouver, the report noted that between 2011 and 2015, rents had risen 11.4 percent on average in Metro Vancouver while weekly median wages in the province had grown by only 6.6 percent.

      At the time the report was released last year, Vancity pegged average rents at $1,144 per month, an amount it described as high.

      “The average millennial renter household (includes all family types) earned an estimated median income of $40,300 in 2015,” according to the report. “Considering today’s average rental rates, these households are priced out of much of the City of Vancouver, North Vancouver (city and district municipality), West Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby.”

      A friend introduced Bector to realtor Darin Germyn. In March this year, Germyn, who is also vice president of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board, started providing his new client with listings that matched what she was looking for.

      Bector preferred a home near the SkyTrain, and last April she put an offer of $269,000 on the condo she now owns.

      “Let’s say in the future, if I have a job in Vancouver, I don’t want to come all the way from Fleetwood or Guildford to come to Surrey Central [Station],” she said. “So now I have a place where I’m very close to King George [Station].”

      Bector bought before the Bank of Canada raised interest rates, twice, on July 12 and September 6 this year.

      The central bank may increase rates some more, and although that could mean higher borrowing costs when Bector reaches the end of her five-year fixed-rate mortgage, she is optimistic about her future prospects.

      “Your income is going to change too, right?” Bector said. “You’re not going to be in the same money bracket. You’re not going to be making the same money.”

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