Average households in southern parts of British Columbia are struggling with debts and rising housing costs and consumer credit levels that are making homeownership even less affordable.

That’s the warning from the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) which says that households earning around the median pre-tax income in Greater Vancouver in 2016 put 87.1% of that towards owning a home. That was a 14.5% increase from a year earlier.

Affordability was slightly better in Victoria but owning a home there still took more than half of the income of a median-wage earner.

"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.”

Mathison added that even with the measures taken to cool the real estate market recently, there is still a steady increase in real estate demand and prices, further impacting southern B.C.'s livability.

Mortgages account for around three-quarters of consumer borrowing in BC but overall consumer debt per capita also increased by 5.0% last year to $62,395, the highest level in Canada.

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