SOURCE: Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia

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September 28, 2017 10:30 ET

Affordability continues to be an issue in southern B.C.

CPAs say average household is struggling with debt

VANCOUVER, BC--(Marketwired - September 28, 2017) - According to the BC Check-Up, an annual economic report released by the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC), rising housing costs and consumer debt made British Columbia, especially in southern B.C., a challenging place to live for many in 2016.

Last year, households that earned around the median pre-tax income in Greater Vancouver put 87.1 per cent of their earnings towards the cost of owning a home. This was a 14.5 per cent increase over the previous year. For those in Victoria, the situation is slightly better, but households earning around the median pre-tax income still spent just over half of their earnings on their homes. With such high costs, owning a home in Greater Vancouver or Victoria is becoming increasingly difficult for many, especially young families.

"The deterioration of housing affordability in southern B.C. is discouraging potential homebuyers," said Lori Mathison, FCPA, FCGA, LLB, "With the average worker earning less than $55,000 a year, it is difficult for individuals to become homeowners and maintain a decent lifestyle. While measures have been taken to cool the real estate market over the past year, we are still seeing a steady increase in real estate demand and prices. This will further impact southern B.C.'s livability. We are keen to work with all levels of government to find long-term solutions for province."

As real estate prices increased, so did consumer debt. Consumer debt includes personal debt, such as credit cards, personal lines of credit or personal loans, and mortgage debt. Mortgage loans comprise approximately three-quarters of consumer borrowing in B.C. With climbing mortgage loans, overall consumer debt per capita in B.C. also increased by 5.0 percent to $62,395 in 2016, the highest level in Canada.

"In the absence of measures to dampen mortgage lending or manage consumer debt, British Columbians are especially vulnerable to sudden changes in their income," continued Mathison. "Over half of B.C. residents in a recent MNP Debt survey indicated that they won't be able to take on more debt for household costs next year, and even more do not feel confident about unexpected expenses. Should interest rates go up or our economy see a reversal of fortunes, it will likely lead to an increase in the number of defaults and consumer insolvencies."

Learn more about the BC Check-Up at www.bccheckup.com.

About CPA British Columbia

The Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) is the training, governing, and regulatory body for almost 35,000 CPA members and 5,000 CPA students. CPABC carries out its primary mission to protect the public by enforcing the highest professional and ethical standards and contributing to the advancement of public policy. CPAs are recognized internationally for bringing superior financial expertise, strategic thinking, business insight, and leadership to organizations.

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