"The Suite Spot" - What if I had a basement suite?

So you’re looking for a house in North Vancouver.  Let’s say your budget is $1.5 million.  You ask yourself, “What if I had a basement suite?”  “What does that mean to my monthly mortgage payments?” 

Now let’s assume that your interest rate is going to be 3% and you are taking a 25 year amortization on your mortgage.  That means that every $100,000 that you borrow from the bank will cost you $474/month.   

So for the sake of this example, let’s agree that you can buy a house for $1.5 million or a house for $1.8 million with a basement suite that you rent out for $1,500/month.

The math is simple to go from $1.5 million to $1.8 million:

  1. Every $100,000 you borrow costs $474/month.
  2. You borrow an extra $300,000 which means $474/month X 3 = $1,422.
  3. You see, and extra $300,000 worth of mortgage means that financially $1.5 million and $1.8 million (with a 2 bedroom basement suite that you rent out for $1,500/month) are roughly the same.

A mortgage helper is sometimes referred to as a basement suite, nanny suite, or in-law suite.  As prices rise, the extra income provided by these rental suites will help you buy your dream home and raise your family here. 

As a Realtor®, I often work with Buyers who have a certain price range in mind but know that by having a suite, they will be able to qualify for a higher mortgage, which means a nicer house, a nicer neighbourhood and more space.

It is tricky though.  You now know the numbers work.  Part 2 begins.  Suddenly, you find yourself asking, “How do I know if my suite is legal?”  

Let me ask you: Do you know if you have to declare an existing unauthorized suite to city hall when you’re buying a house?  Can you get into trouble with city hall if you purchase this house?  

Whether you’re thinking of installing a secondary suite, authorizing an existing one, or purchasing a home with or without a suite, here’s what you’ll need to know about the requirements for secondary suites in your municipality:

Click here for the District of North Vancouver, here for the City of North Vancouver, and click here for the District of West Vancouver requirements.

I always advise calling your realtor, double checking with your mortgage broker, and visiting city hall prior to taking action.  Whenever I work with Buyers, I want to keep the process as streamlined and hassle-free as possible.

Your first step?  Call me first.  I’m happy to discuss your options and walk you through the process! I’m here to help you find the solution to YOUR home-ownership goals.  


Karen Biffi 
Proud Mom and Realtor ®