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Home ownership to be B.C. election issue

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Reported by Laura Brougham

Housing prices remain a concern for students in the Vancouver Lower Mainland. Photograph by Laura Brougham

Some students may never be able to afford a house in Metro Vancouver, which has led politicians to make housing affordability a discussion point in the B.C. election on May 9.

High housing prices have been a major political issue across the Lower Mainland over the last two years. Financing an investment that can be in the millions of dollars can seem out of reach for students, who would like to enter the housing market in the future.

Investing in real estate has led to an increase in housing prices, according to David Eby, Vancouver-Point Grey MLA, and BC NDP spokesperson for housing. Eby said, when houses become an investment, it means everyday people looking to buy houses to live aren’t left with many options.

Home-ownership program

The Liberal government has started a program to provide an interest-free loan of up to five per cent of the purchase price, according to Sonja Zoeller, spokesperson for the ministry of finance.

“The B.C. HOME Partnership Program contributes to the amount first-time homebuyers have already saved for their down payment,” Zoeller wrote in an email. “Almost 140 loan applications have been approved since the program’s introduction in January, totalling $2.2 million.”

Main problem not addressed

Eby said the home partnership program misses the core of the problem, and building affordable housing is the best way to help.

“I think that’s such a misunderstanding of where people are at right now in terms of their finances,” Eby said. “I think the solution to the housing crisis is managing this quite toxic demand we’re seeing in our housing market, and adding a supply of affordable housing for people.”

Potential buyers need to save

In order to save for a house, you should set aside money every month as soon as you get paid, according to Laurent Munier, financial advisor at Safe Pacific Financial Inc.

“Pay yourself like any other bill that you would pay,” Munier said. “As part of your automated [payments] every month […] even if it’s $50 a month, the habit is the most important part.”

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