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Steep housing prices across Canada's large cities have potential buyers turning to condos — and finding the math still isn't pretty.

In RBC’s latest quarterly housing report, it’s the deteriorating affordability of owning a condo that jumps out. Even as a softer housing market offers some nationwide relief, affordability is still at crisis levels in Vancouver and Toronto, and condos are no exception.

In fact, over the past year, RBC’s affordability measure for condos worsened at three times the rate compared to single-detached homes.

The stronger demand for condos in Canada’s cities has resulted in sharper price gains, which is no surprise. What’s striking is that these gains are even outpacing the rise in rents. The premium on owning a condo has ballooned over the last three years. Buyers of an average condo in Vancouver, Toronto, Victoria and Montreal pay over $900 more per month compared to those renting a two-bedroom apartment. That adds up to a difference of more than $10,000 a year – making buying a condo not just a step, but a leap.

While still more affordable than a single-family home, buying a condo is a much more distant next step for renters in Canada’s largest cities. Look for rental demand to rise rapidly in the years ahead.