Oct 2015 9

Housing Market in September 2015: Sales Above the 10 Year Average

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Same old. Same old. Sales are up 32.9% above 10-year sales average for September. Listings are at 9 year low and multiple offers are occurring on desirable properties everywhere including detached houses and condos in downtown Vancouver.

Vacnouver City Hall by Ruth HartnupVancouver City Hall by Ruth Hartnup

Home ownership has become a Federal Election issue with all parties making grandiose statements about foreign ownership and affordability with Prime Minister Harper promising at a campaign stop in Vancouver that the government at long last would begin tracking foreign buyers.

A reelected Conservative government will commit to collecting comprehensive data on the foreign non-resident purchase of Canadian real estate,

said Harper, adding his government would coordinate with provinces to ensure non-resident investment

supports the availability and affordability of homes" for Canadians... If such foreign ownership non-resident buyers are artificially driving up the cost of real estate and Canadian families are shut out of the market, that is a matter we can and should do something about.

The provincial Liberal government has resisted any suggestion that foreign buyers are distorting the real estate market and raising prices because they do not want to appear racist or to lose the Chinese buyers investing in BC. According to BC Finance Minister Mike de Jong, the government is working on possible changes to the property transfer tax in the next provincial budget . This is to ameliorate some of the housing affordability issues out of Metro Vancouver. The government believes that the high prices are not caused by foreign buyers but by limited supply and high demand around land in Vancouver. The average sale price for a single family detached home in Vancouver has risen 20% over the past year to a current high of $1.47 million. Vancouver Westside detached benchmark sale price is now at $2,745,000. The Minister also pointed out that one third of the homes that were sold in Metro Vancouver were condos under $400k. No mention of how families with multiple children will squeeze into a one or two bedroom apartment.

Buying a new house

At every level of price and affordability home owners resist any policy that may devalue their property or reduce the equity they will cash out for retirement. When the City of Vancouver recently rezoned the Heritage classification for First Shaughnessy, the elegant upscale subdivision built by the CPR around 1895, so that single family homes built before 1940 could increase density and add a coach house but could not be torn down to build a larger mansion there was an outcry from owners. One who owns a house built in 1912 wrote a Letter to the Editor of the Vancouver Sun to state that thanks to the devaluation of his property he could no longer afford to buy a large multi-million dollar downtown condo.

Density will win out in the end. Homes along transit lines are being assembled for rezoning into townhouses or low rise condos. Some owners have joined with their neighbours to offer their block as an assembly and many long term investors have purchased them. Patience is a hallmark of these particular buyers.

September 2015

Barbara Yaffe of The Vancouver Sun in an article on land values suggests that "while density has its challenges in terms of congestion, parking and noise, it is worth noting that the region is a virtual nature preserve by international standards. As of 2011, Metro Vancouver’s population per square kilometre totaled 802.

By contrast, Paris’ population per square kilometer is nearly 3,350 people, while the per-square-kilometre density in New Delhi is 11,3000 people, and in Manila, 43,000.

Nothing like comparative data to put our challenges into proper perspective."


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