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  • Andrew Cigna

The Growing Affordability Crisis: Renters Struggle to Afford Starter Homes in Hamilton

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In the pursuit of homeownership, aspiring buyers in Hamilton, Ontario, are facing a daunting challenge. The dream of purchasing a starter home, once considered an achievable goal, is rapidly slipping out of reach. Recent data from Point2, an international real estate search portal, reveals a staggering gap between the income of renters and the cost of entry-level homes. In this article, we delve into the affordability crisis plaguing Hamilton's real estate market, examining the implications for renters and the city as a whole.

Hamilton's Renter Household Income vs. Mortgage Requirements:

To paint a clearer picture of the affordability crisis, let's delve into the numbers. Point2's data shows that renters in Hamilton have a median household income of $59,726. Unfortunately, this falls significantly short of the minimum income required to cover the mortgage for a starter or entry-level home, which stands at $95,455. In other words, renters are earning $35,729 less than what is needed to afford a modest home. This staggering gap amounts to a 37 percent deficit, putting homeownership further out of reach for many Hamilton residents.

The Vanishing Affordability of Starter Homes:

Hamilton is not alone in facing this affordability crisis. Point2's analysis extends to 24 of Ontario's largest cities, revealing a broader trend. Starter homes, once priced around $200,000, are no longer within reach for many aspiring homeowners. The study assessed data on entry-level home pricing and renter household median income to determine the viability of purchasing a starter home in Canada. The findings indicate that Hamilton is just one of many cities where the dream of homeownership is slipping away.

Limited Availability of Starter Homes in Hamilton:

According to Carmen Rogobete, a communications strategist with Point2, the supply of available starter homes in Hamilton is modest, accounting for only 1.8 percent of listings. At the time the data was gathered, this amounted to just 33 homes. With limited options, aspiring buyers are faced with fierce competition and rising prices. The value of a starter home in Hamilton currently stands at $375,961, based on half the city's median price. Consequently, a down payment of $75,192 and a loan amount of $300,769 are required.

Ontario's Dominance in Unaffordability:

The affordability crisis extends beyond Hamilton to other cities in Ontario. Point2's analysis reveals that Ontario dominates the list of least affordable cities, with 24 of its largest cities falling short of the minimum income needed to cover a mortgage for a starter home. In 12 cities, residents earn only about half the required income, effectively pricing them out of the market. For instance, renters in Richmond Hill, Oakville, Markham, and Vaughan need approximately $160,000 to purchase a starter home, despite earning an average of $70,000.

National Impact: Canadian Cities and the Homeownership Struggle:

This affordability crisis is not limited to Hamilton or Ontario alone. On a national level, renters in 36 of Canada's 50 largest cities face significant barriers to homeownership. Rising home prices, high mortgage costs, and a housing shortage have created a challenging landscape for aspiring buyers. In these cities, renters earn up to 60 percent less than what is needed to purchase a starter home. Furthermore, 11 cities have nearly zero starter home inventory, while 26 others have a supply below 10 percent.

The "Affordability Miracle": Cities with Surprising Affordability:

Despite the bleak outlook, there are a few cities where renters are more fortunate. In 14 cities across Canada, renters earn more than the minimum income required to buy a starter home. Cities like Edmonton and St. John's stand out, with renters earning 52 percent and 50 percent above the required income, respectively. In these 14 cities, starter homes are priced below $200,000, offering a glimmer of hope for aspiring homeowners.

The affordability crisis in Hamilton's real estate market serves as a stark reminder of the challenges many Canadians face in achieving homeownership. With the income of renters falling significantly short of the minimum requirements for purchasing a starter home, the dream of owning a home is becoming increasingly elusive. As housing prices continue to rise and the gap widens, it is crucial for policymakers, real estate professionals, and communities to address this issue and work towards creating a more accessible housing market for all.

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