Drive Until You Qualify – Why Are Buyers Moving Away from Big Cities in 2023 

Homebuyers and investors alike are constantly searching for a solution to the high prices associated with buying real estate in the big city. However, sometimes the easiest way to beat a competitive market, is to shop elsewhere and drive until you qualify.

Instead of buying a property in a high-priced market with plenty of competition, buyers instead turn their eyes outwards to nearby markets with lower prices and fewer competing offers. This “drive until you qualify” strategy is primarily used when you cannot qualify for a property in a certain area, so instead buyers will look further out until they finally find the closest place, they can buy a property while qualifying for a mortgage.

However, if you want to take the steps to qualify for the best available mortgage and hopefully no longer need to drive until you qualify, click the link below for a free strategy call today.

Even With the Market Cooling – Real Estate Is Expensive 

Currently, the housing market in Canada is on the decline following an extended period of high activity during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, even with the average price of housing slowly dropping, real estate is still at one of its most expensive levels in recent years – notably in major cities such as Toronto, Vancouver, and Edmonton. 

This means that buyers are still having to compete with high real estate prices in these major cities if they are looking to buy in these markets. Naturally, this is not sustainable for every investor, especially not newer investors. In fact, many new investors may struggle to qualify for properties in these major markets. After all, an average purchase price of over one million dollars in Toronto is not a manageable price for most people. 

What Does “Drive Until Your Qualify” Mean? 

Instead of breaking the bank on excessive hard money loans and high-rate mortgages in order to buy in these expensive big city markets, investors will often try to find an affordable option nearby in order to find a property they can qualify for normally. This is what is known as the “drive until you qualify” strategy. 

This method of property hunting was popularized by people looking to buy homes while working jobs in major cities. While they could not afford the properties located in these key regions, these people realized that if they were willing to commute into town each day, they could find more affordable properties in the surrounding cities and towns. Meanwhile, investors who also turned to these surrounding cities noticed that the influx of people caused more rapid appreciation on their properties. 

This method of selecting properties quickly increased in popularity while also giving rise to notable growth in key cities across Canada. A strong example of this phenomenon is in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). Ever since the 2008 recession, the cities surrounding Toronto have experienced new levels of growth compared to the years before. This is because as the rising cost of living priced people out of their Toronto homes, they wanted to hold onto their jobs and migrated to neighbouring municipalities. 

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Pros and Cons of the “Drive Until You Qualify” Strategy 

There are plenty of advantages and disadvantages to using the “drive until you qualify” method of homebuying for your investment properties. These include: 

Pro: Purchase Prices Are Lower Outside of Major Urban Areas 

The key reason people employ the “drive until you qualify” method is because they cannot afford to purchase property in major cities. With such high purchase prices being reported on most properties, new investors typically cannot afford to start building their portfolios in cities like Toronto, Ottawa, and Vancouver. However, there are plenty of surrounding towns and communities that offer lower prices that are easier to qualify for. 

Con: Farther Properties Cause Longer Commutes 

One of the biggest drawbacks to the drive until you qualify approach to real estate is that fact that most of the time, your tenants are going to have to deal with longer commutes to work. This means that when you are trying to find tenants, you may lose out on prospective renters who may opt to spend more on rent in exchange for a shorter drive to work. 

The further you buy from major cities; you may also deal with more of your favoured contractors and trades workers who need to commute longer to your property. This can be detrimental if you have an emergency on your property that requires urgent maintenance. 

Pro: Properties Tend to be Larger Outside of Big Cities 

Another key advantage to using the drive until you qualify approach to buy properties is the fact that properties located away from major urban centers typically come with more square footage and larger yards for their price. This means that while the property may be cheaper to buy, its value may be greater to your tenants than a small inner city single-family rental that might not have a yard at all. 

Con: The Drive Until You Qualify Approach Can Simply Start Bidding Wars Elsewhere 

As people become more and more aware of the appeals of buying property just outside of major cities, other buyers will begin to turn their attention outward as well. In turn, this will cause bidding wars to start up in new markets that were not previously known for their high levels of competition – the very thing the people are trying to avoid. 

This will further drive-up property prices in these areas without causing much of a slowdown in the major cities people are trying to avoid. This is great for investors and homebuyers who get in early and can profit off of the equity, but it serves to reduce the affordability of those markets in the long term. 

Learn How Much You Qualify for Today 

If you want to learn how much you can qualify for on your next mortgage today, get started with a pre-approval from our team at LendCity. With a pre-approval in hand, you can learn exactly how much you can afford to buy while securing the best available mortgage rate for your next purchase. 

To get started today, visit us at or give us a call at 519-960-0370. Alternatively, click the link below to book a free strategy call so you - ideally - no longer need to "drive until you qualify" ever again.

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