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".