Firmly established as one of Canada’s most expensive residential property destinations, Vancouver continues to squeeze middle-class families and hopeful home owners out of the market despite a conspicuous slowdown in sales volume and home price growth.
While Vancouver is a national leader in terms of job creation and economic fundamentals, vacant or momentarily occupied homes have increased by more than two-fold in the 15 years since 2001, up to 66,719.
Many of these unoccupied properties cost a million dollars or more. Andy Yan, director of Simon Fraser University’s City Program, noted that this sharp growth in the number of empty homes reflects the middle-class consumer base’s particular difficulties in getting into the market.
“[Many homes] have become just luxury items like Ferraris,” Yan wrote in his analysis last week, as quoted by Bloomberg. “They’re not affordable for most local incomes.”
In particular, the median price of a single-family home in Vancouver’s west side is now at $4.9 million, roughly 65 times the city’s average household income.
Multiple observers have pinned much of the blame on wealthy foreign nationals, many of which purchase homes that they otherwise leave empty, and are acquired only for flipping purposes.
As a response to the proliferation of unscrupulous investment practices, the B.C. government implemented a 15 per cent property transfer tax on overseas buyers in August—a move that has led to a major decline in sales numbers, from 2,519 in January 2016 to 1,523 last month.
“While we saw near record-breaking sales at this time last year, home buyers and sellers are more reluctant to engage so far in 2017,” Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver president Dan Morrison said.
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