Vancouver is world’s second least affordable housing market, Demographia survey says

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      The good news: At least we're not as unaffordable as Hong Kong.

      The bad news: Vancouver has been identified as the second least affordable major housing market in an international survey covering 360 markets in nine countries.

      According to the 10th annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey, released this week, Vancouver is "severely unaffordable" when it comes to housing prices. The survey says housing affordability is "catastrophic" and has "virtually spiraled out of control" in our city.

      Demographia ranks cities using a measure called the "median multiple", which is calculated by dividing the median house price by the gross annual median household income.

      "Hong Kong's Median Multiple of 14.9 is the highest recorded (least affordable) in the 10 years of the Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey. Again, Vancouver was second only to Hong Kong, with a Median Multiple of 10.3," the survey states.

      Vancouver has now ranked as one of the two least affordable major markets in the survey for six consecutive years. San Francisco, Sydney, and Melbourne round out the top five unaffordable major markets.

      The survey places some of the blame for high housing prices in such cities on investor speculation and "smart growth" policies.

      "Severely unaffordable markets are also more attractive to buyers seeking extraordinary returns on investment, short term profits. This further raises prices in markets where urban fringe development is largely prohibited by urban containment's land rationing policies. Substantial international investor activity has been reported in London, Vancouver, the US West Coast markets of Vancouver, Seattle, the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles and San Diego and others. These price increases make such metropolitan areas less livable for average and lower income households," the survey says.

      Vancouver had a median house price of $670,300 and a median household income of $65,000 in the third quarter of 2013, the survey notes. It says Victoria, Kelowna, and the Fraser Valley are also "severely unaffordable".




      Jan 21, 2014 at 11:37am

      I'm not to deny that Vancouver housing is
      unrealistically unaffordable and my suspicion is
      this is due to speculation or need to invest in no question asked markets.
      As much as I love Vancouver this is not Paris nor London with their breathtaking Architecture and day life and night life and transit etc etcetera .
      Real estate in London and Paris are more expensive than Vancouver and the rules to be able to qualify in order
      to buy more strict .

      for the love of god...

      Jan 21, 2014 at 12:22pm

      This is ridiculous. Can we PLEASE limit international investors already? From what I understand, non-residents can't purchase Chinese real estate, and individual foreign buyers need to show that they have worked in China for at least a year and are buying the residence to actually live in. Similar laws would make a huge difference in Vancouver's affordability.

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      Alan Layton

      Jan 21, 2014 at 2:19pm

      It's interesting that Victoria is also severely unaffordable because it was almost completely missed by the huge influx from Asia. It is still a very 'white' city and I believe that it's high housing costs are just due to it's desirability to live in. It has all of the amenities of a large city, but without the traffic, stress, crime and filthiness that you get in Metro Vancouver. Why it's being passed over by Asians is a mystery to me. Perhaps the isolation is the problem or that there wasn't a large Asian population there to begin with?

      Best Place on Earth

      Jan 21, 2014 at 7:31pm

      Hey 'for the love of God',

      My aunt is a Canadian citizen and she recently bought a condo in Macau to rent out. My aunt has never worked in China and she is allowed to buy real estate in China for either speculation, rental property, or to flip.

      Vancouver is a very desirable place to own real estate due to it's spectacular scenery and very mild climate. The flow of money will always go to the most desirable places in a free market economy.


      Jan 21, 2014 at 7:52pm


      The benchmark single family home price for Victoria is unaffordable, but it's still only about half that for Vancouver.

      But really, the whole country is in a bubble. We're the laughing stock of the world's business media because, like all other bubblers before us, we think "it's different this time!"

      If history is any guide at all, it's not different.

      Canada has a RE bubble because it's an easy way for governments to juice the economy for a few years, at most a decade. But it always ends badly.


      Jan 21, 2014 at 8:00pm

      Yes BPOE, It's Different Here! Or is it, It's Different This Time?

      So said Miami, San Francisco, Tokyo, Madrid, Dublin, etc.

      "This has all happened before, and this will all happen again"


      Jan 21, 2014 at 11:31pm

      Let see you would like to buy property in Hong Kong and you're not a local resident.
      In that case there is 25 percent taxis for you to pay.
      On a million dollars property that 250 thousand dollars going to support local economy.

      Perhaps what keeps Vancouver from introduction of similar law is strong hand of developers and 5000 000
      dollars mayoral race...

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      Jan 22, 2014 at 9:20am

      Let's check in with the world's business press, eh?

      The Economist: "Canada’s house prices are bubbly"

      Washington Post: "Perhaps scariest of all, if Roubini is right, is that if these are bubbles that eventually pop, policymakers will not have the tools they had in 2008 to cushion the blow...It will be time to Blame Canada.

      The Wall Street Journal: "Deutsche Bank reported...that home prices in Canada are 60 percent above the historical norm, which gives our neighbor to the north the dubious distinction of having the most overvalued real estate market in the world."

      "Canada tops the list of overvalued housing’s not hard to think of some key reasons for these differences. Canada, for example, is very open to foreign investors..."

      "Is the Canadian Miracle a Postponed Reckoning?"

      The Financial Times: "Canada’s housing market teeters precariously"

      And, coming back home, what are business people who are *not* up their eyeballs in the real estate sector, banking industry, or Con Party saying?

      The Globe and Mail: "Why are so many people saying nasty things about Canada's housing market?"

      Financial Post: "Banks could withstand housing collapse, but consumers vulnerable, warns Canada’s top financial watchdog"

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      It is foreign money, but not simply Asian in origin.

      Jan 22, 2014 at 7:58pm

      Foreign money is flowing into Vancouver's real estate market for sure, and currently it may be predominantly Asian in origin, but it has also arrived from UK, Germany, U.S., elsewhere in Canada, and other places. I think people should be careful in attributing it all as 'Asian' in origin, as it appears to be a racial argument. The problem is speculative capital, not its national origin. As Marx said, Capital has no home.


      Jan 24, 2014 at 12:05pm

      @Bruce, yes you quote all those global sources saying the Canada's market is in a speculative bubble as the result of overseas investment. But wouldn't you rather believe Vancouver's mayor who was installed by developer money, when he states that it is a "ridiculous" claim that overseas money is driving up Vancouver's housing? Really, what would Deutsche Bank or the Economist know about this kind of thing?