Metro Vancouver's real estate prices are steadily increasing, making the housing costs less affordable. Despite the decline in fixed mortgage rates, housing affordability in Metro Vancouver is slowly diminishing. The increase in real estate prices is not isolated to Vancouver only as affordability for homes has decreased for the province as a whole. On a more positive note, the market seems to be back on track due to the increase in real estate prices. Not only is it back on track, it appears to be the strongest it's ever been in the past 3 years. While this is great news for the market, it isn't for home buyers. There has been a recent increase in home buyer demand which puts Greater Vancouver in the upper reaches of a balanced housing market.

The graph below shows ownership costs as a percentage of household income. Essentially, it is the percentage of pre-tax income that the average Vancouverite needs to service the costs of owning a home. Condos are the only home type that are an anomaly in the increasing trend in housing prices in that it remains relatively stable in affordability. Owners are spending 39.9% of pre-tax income on condos which is a slight decrease in contrast to the previous quarter. Two-storey housing units are sitting at about 86.5% and bungalows are slightly lower at 82.4%. It is said that the average British Columbian must spend 68.4% of their income for housing. 

*Source: RBC Housing Trends and Affordability

For more information on this quarter's current real estate market and economic factors that affect it, check out the Q1 State of the Market Report produced by Urban Analytics Inc.

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To wrap-up our 4-part blog series, we end off with five additional grants & rebates which can help make owning a home a little more affordable. The first fifteen grants were listed out in the previous blogs, which can be found here: Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3. Follow along to see how you can keep your wallet feeling a little fuller!

(16) Local Government Water Meter Program
Some municipalities offer a program for voluntary water metering. Basically, what this program entails is that you only have to pay for the amount of water you use. 

Additional Information: Visit your municipality's website and type in "Water Meter" to find out whether any program has been implemented.

(17) Local Government Water Conservation Incentives
Some municipalities provide rebates or incentives to residents to help save water. The City of Coquitlam offers a $100 rebate and the City of North Vancouver, District of North Vancouver and District of West Vancouver offer a $50 rebate when residents install a low-flush toilet.

Additional Information: City of Coquitlam Rebate, City of North Vancouver Rebate & District of West Vancouver Rebate

(18) Local Government Water Conservation Kits
In addition to the rebates for installation of a low-flush porcelain throne, some municipalities offer residents indoor and outdoor water conservation kits. For example, the City of Burnaby offers specially priced kits at $10.00/each which can help residents save thousands of litres of water annually. 

Additional Information: City of Burnaby Water Conservation Kit

(19) FortisBC Rebate Program for Businesses
For commercial buildings, FortisBC provides a rebate of up to $45,000 for the purchase of an energy efficient boiler, up to $15,000 for the installation of a high-efficiency water heater and many other incentives. 

Additional Information: FortisBC Rebate Program for Businesses

(20) FortisBC Rebate Program for Homes
FortisBC offers an array of rebates for home owners. Examples include: (1) Rebates of up to $3,250 are available for insulation, ventilation and space and water heating upgrades. (2) Savings of up to $1,000 by replacing your aging water heater with a qualifying natural gas Energy Star model. (3) You may qualify for a $300 rebate if you purchase an EnerChoice fireplace. 

Additional Information: FortisBC Rebate Program

With all 20 grants & rebates revealed, we hope you are well on your way in applying for the grants & rebates that are best suited for your needs.

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Over the next couple of blogs, we'll be providing a list of grants and rebates for property buyers and owners to make the purchasing process a little more affordable. The first ten grants were listed out in the previous blogs, which can be found here: Part 1 & Part 2. Follow along to see how you can keep your wallet feeling a little fuller!

(11) BMO Eco Smart Mortgage
This 5-year fixed closed mortgage rewards customers for making smart choices for their home and the environment. You could qualify for a great rate on BMO's Eco Smart Mortgage if you have bought, plan to buy or already own a home with energy efficient features.

Additional Information: BMO Eco Smart Mortgage

(12) BC Hydro Fridge Buy-Back Program
 Refrigerators are one of the highest energy users in your home. Save yourself the expense and recycle your old spare fridge. BC Hydro will recycle it and will give you $30 in return.

Additional Information: Fridge Buy-Back Program

(13) BC Hydro Power Smart Partner Program for Businesses
The Power Smart Partner program partners BC Hydro with B.C.'s largest commercial, government and institutional customers. Customers gain access to a wide range of energy management programs, tools and incentives. Once you sign the Power Smart Partner conservation pledge, you are entitled to some perks and incentives. Click the link below to find out the benefits received.

Additional Information: Power Smart Partner Program

(14) BC Hydro Power Smart Express (PSX) for Businesses
The PSX program partners BC Hydro with BC'cs largest commercial, government and institutional customers. This program offers incentives for various technologies, including lighting, cooking and refrigeration applicances. Since 2010, Power Smart Express has been helping B.C. businesses reduce their operating costs through the implementation of energy-efficiency projects. Whether you run a small family business or a large property management firm, Power Smart Express has incentives that can help cover up to 75% of the cost of your project. Plus, you will receive a larger incentive to offset the cost of projects that have a longer payback period.

Additional Information: PSX Program

(15) BC Hydro Appliance Rebates
If you purchased an eligible ENERGY STAR® appliance between May 1 – 31, 2014, you have 60 days from the purchase date to apply for your rebate. Follow the steps below to apply. All applications must be received within 60 days of purchase date in order to be eligible for a rebate.  

Additional Information: Appliance Rebates

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