Vancouver's million-dollar housing statistics can mislead, says expert

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      The price of a typical detached home in Metro Vancouver is now more than a million dollars. That’s $1,078,900, to be exact, as of April 2015, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

      In a May 4 report, the REBGV noted that this represents a 12.5-percent increase from the benchmark price in the same month last year. In April 2014, a typical detached home in the Metro Vancouver area was more than $959,000.

      It’s bad news for many who feel that a home is beyond reach, a sentiment expressed at #IDontHave1Million, an online awareness campaign that went viral last month.

      But do you really have to have that million-dollar home?

      It’s a question that will likely be asked Thursday (May 7) at “Your Home: Expectations, Needs and What’s Real”, an SFU Public Square lunchtime forum to be held at SFU’s downtown Vancouver campus (Room 1600, Harbour Centre).

      Yazmin Hernandez, a planner with the Vancouver-based think tank Urban Futures, is one of the speakers at the one-hour City Conversations event, which starts at 12:30 p.m.

      “It’s definitely good to have a conversation to make sure that we, as a younger generation, don’t feel like we’re being priced out of the single[-family] detached[-home] market,” Hernandez told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview. “Because having the expectation of a single detached unit in a place that is so geographically constrained, it’s perhaps not realistic,” Hernandez continued. “Not even if the prices were lower somehow, miraculously.”

      According to her, the prices usually reported in the media skew people’s perceptions.

      “There is definitely a range and, no doubt, different markets will be affected by different aspects, like supply and demand, closeness to transit, and all sorts…[of things] that will influence, I guess, the pricing of all these units. But there’s definitely a lot, a wider range,” she said.

      Not everything in the Lower Mainland sells for more than $1 million.

      Citing data compiled by Urban Futures, Hernandez pointed out that people bought a total of 53,710 homes of all types—single, attached, and apartment units—in the region in 2014. The price of these homes averaged $719,570. Only 16 percent of the 53,710 homes sold last year were priced over $1 million.

      Going deeper into the data, Hernandez said that by excluding the highest 20 percent of all residential sales, one comes up with an even lower dollar figure. According to her, the average sale price in 2014 for the bottom 80 percent of the Lower Mainland market, or 42,968 units, was $462,792.

      “So it’s almost half [of $719,570]. Not quite, but it’s within a range that is definitely a contrast,” she said.

      Hernandez also said that it’s the same pattern with condominium sales.

      The planner pointed out that in 2014, the average price of a condo in the Lower Mainland was $435,000. But if the top 20 percent is taken out of the equation, the average price in the bottom 80 percent was $327,486.

      That said, there’s no denying that in the City of Vancouver, many detached homes are way above the million-dollar mark.

      According to Hernandez, the average sale price for the bottom 80 percent of the single detached houses sold in the City of Vancouver in 2014 was $1.36 million. She added that the highest sale price among these 2,986 units was $2.62 million.

      The May 7 forum will also feature Eveline Xia, founder of the #IDontHave1Million campaign, as one of the speakers. Another is Adrian Crook, a video-game designer who lives in a high-rise rental condo in Vancouver with his five children and a partner. Crook doesn’t want to buy.

      According to Hernandez, Crook’s case offers a different perspective on how people choose not to enter the market and still thrive. For others, Hernandez said, “having the expectation of a yard and a single detached unit…that will likely not be fulfilled”.

      “It’s just not feasible, but there are other structure types and other price points for other types of units that are more reasonable,” Hernandez also said, “and that, hopefully, are affordable to a wider range of people.”




      May 7, 2015 at 1:54pm

      For most Canadians any of the prices quoted is beyond their means.

      The average salary is about $50k in Canada.

      Paying $1.36 Million home or $500k for a Condo would mean you have to be a Drug dealer,

      or engaged in other criminal enterprise or mega rich 1% to be able to afford such largess.

      There are few small business owners that can afford $1.36 million for a home either.

      Quite the difference,

      May 7, 2015 at 2:01pm

      but still #IDontHave$327,486


      May 8, 2015 at 7:17am

      This article stinks. It should be feasible if you and your family have lived here your whole life.

      Yeah Right

      May 22, 2015 at 1:32pm

      The average condo price includes 1 bedroom condos of which there are a ton of them. Good luck raising a family in that. Detatched housing is also greatly outpacing condos in terms of value so you won't be able to move up much further.

      A lot of these units are also in old buildings so even with a low mortgage you could have a 450$ strata fee per month, or higher. Just wait until the assessments start rolling around and you won't have saved OR gained much money by buying.


      May 25, 2015 at 10:09pm

      Why not remove non-family suited housing, instead of the top 20%?

      The housing crisis isn't in micro-suites, bachelor apartments, 1 br's & anything under 600 sf. It's in accommodation that's suitable for families.

      Qualifying for a conventional mortgage for a $500,000 "unit" requires a household income of $126,000. The median household income in Vancouver is roughly $71,000. And if you buy a condominium hoping to build equity to buy a house later, forget it. Detached housing, as noted above, is inflating faster than condos, which have remained pretty flat in real dollars.

      If you can't afford a house here now, you'll be in a condo forever.

      Does that help adjust expectations?

      Statistic pointless

      Jul 20, 2015 at 12:51pm

      With the the numbers and prices statistic provided is pointless, most people are unable to buy a single-detached house. It is whether a million dollars or above $300,000.00 the point is Canada taxes is too heavy. Comparing with other cities like Hong Kong is like apple and orange.