01/24/2014 02:38 EST | Updated 03/26/2014 05:59 EDT

Trade Your Car For A Condo?


Coming up with a down payment for a condo in Vancouver is a huge issue for many young people and young families. But what if you could trade your car in for a down payment on a condo? Would you do it?

With the rising popularity of car-free living and car co-ops, trading in a depreciating asset for a down payment on a condo may be one way into Vancouver's crazy housing market. That's the idea behind a new program called Car for Condo.

Here's how it works: bring your car to the InGastown sales centre before the end of February and an Autoform expert will assess the value of your car. You can then put that assessed value directly towards a down payment on a condo at InGastown, a 61-unit, concrete building on East Cordova featuring 501-square-foot condos starting at $269,800. It's all done in cooperation with our partners at the Vancity Credit Union and the MODO Car Co-op.

The numbers break down like this: if you have a car that's valued at $5,000, for example, you would only need an extra $400 to qualify for a minimum, two per cent mortgage on a $269,800, one-bedroom condo. (With the two per cent down program, you would still need to make monthly payments during construction -- up to 16 months, but the monthly payment of $512/month would go towards paying off your own home and making up the difference of a five per cent down payment.)

Another scenario: say you have a car that's worth $12,000. You would need to put in an extra $1,490 to make the five per cent down payment, with no monthly costs until completion.

Car for Condo buyers get a free Modo Car Co-op membership and access to two cars onsite, making it easy to live car free. It reduces the monthly expenses of car ownership, without having to forego convenience.

Obviously, this isn't for everyone. Some people are still married to their cars. But a growing number of young people consider their iPhones more important than a car. Check out this story for more details on young people's growing preference for apartments over houses, and iPhones over cars.


Inspired by that study, we commissioned Urban Futures to do a research report. It found, in newly released data from Statistics Canada, that apartment and condo living has grown by approximately 64 per cent since 1991 in the city of Vancouver. That's a huge increase in just two decades. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp. also released new data in December showing Vancouver had the highest rate of condo ownership in the country -- at 35 per cent, or triple the national average.

That research report also found a huge increase in the growth of car co-ops and car shares in Vancouver, with the two major programs in the city having 40,000 drivers, up from practically none five years ago. (ZipCar refused to release its member data.)


For those who work at home or near the downtown core, trading a car for a condo may mean the difference between getting into the housing market -- or not. At the very least, it's providing a new and innovative option and hopefully, a solution for some.


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