Vancouver Is About to Become Rental-Only City

More Supply and Affordable in The Vancouver Housing Market

Vancouver’s latest housing is stated to constructed 72,000 new housing units within the next 10 years in addition to a dedicated rental-only zone, according to a Mortgage Broker News article.

In an interview with CBC News, mayor Gregor Robertson said this plan targets several things such as creating more affordable housing and protecting the rental housing we have already.

Mayor Robertson also said we are seeing more protections for renters across the province.

“We now have the tools,” Robertson says “we need to make sure we build additional housing, that it’s tied to local incomes…that means we have to approve significantly more homes.”

BCREA Announces New Approach

Residential Sales in B.C. Forecast to Decline to 91,700 Units in 2018

Multiple Listing Services residential sales in B.C are forecast to decline 10.4 per cent to 91,700 units in 2018, according to a news release by British Columbia Real Estate Association.

A record high sales of 112,209 units were sold in 2016 and the ten-year average for MLS residential sale is 84,700 units.

Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist says housing demand across B.C. is set to decline in 2018 due to rising interest rates and more stringent mortgage stress tests. This, he says, will reduce household purchasing power and erode housing affordability.

The supply of homes for sale is now trending at or near decade lows in most B.C. regions; this imbalance between supply and demand is largely responsible for the fast increase in home prices. Moreover, the average MLS residential price in the province is forecast to increase 3.1 per cent this year and further 4.6 per cent to $745,300 in 2018.

Would You Live in Micro-Suite?

Urban Area Building Starts Down by Almost 45,000 Units.

The building cycle in Vancouver has lost momentum according to an article from Business Vancouver. Urban-area starts are down by nearly 45,000 units since earlier this year, and fewer multi-family unit starts have underpinned.

Moreover, starts in the Vancouver census metropolitan area fell to their lowest numbers in seven months. This decline could reflect supply-side constraints. Yet, it’s evident current demand remains strong. What Business Vancouver does note is that higher starts have outpaced completions, lifting units under construction up 10 per cent from a year ago to 40,000 units.

Housing starts outside the Vancouver census metropolitan area are rising. Starts are rising in Victoria, which is the main driver of provincial uplift. Most large urban markets have had increases in building activity, with Kamloops and Prince George as exceptions.

In total, annual starts decreased 6 per cent to 39,100 units this year, and slightly fewer starts are forecasted for 2018.

Chinese Buyers & House Auctions: A Peek into Australia’s Real Estate Market

It’s a topic we know all too much about right now: foreign investment in the real estate market – especially with Chinese purchasers. However, the scene in Australia is a little different from the one in Vancouver.

Chinese investment in Australia’s housing market has quadrupled from 2013 to 2015: soaring to $24.3 billion from $5.9 billion.  Chinese buyers are dominating the housing auctions in suburban Australia – and in many such auctions it has become increasingly rare to see bidders of other nationalities.

However, it is not just offshore investors who are dominating the market. Australian real estate companies claim that the largest percentage of Chinese buyers whom attend their auctions are either Australian citizens or permanent residents.

In these house auctions, it’s common for the incredibly bidding-savvy Chinese buyers to do well. The bids all come down to readiness; how much homework you have done; and how much heart you put into the bid, according to one auction-style home purchaser. He recommends not to bother bidding near the beginning of the auction, so as to not “waste breath.” He claims you will know who you are really bidding against near the finish line.

Another bidder, one of dozens on the four bedroom house that ended up selling for $1.8 million, was hoping to move his growing family out of their cramped apartment. He, like many of the bidders, has been searching for a home for well over two months – but it all comes down to who wants it the most with an auction-style market.

What do you think about buying a house in an auction? Would it make the process easier or more difficult? We are curious to know your opinions!

Evictions and Penalties: What is fair?

According to the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre, complaints over wrongful evictions in the Vancouver area have increased dramatically in relation to the recent increases in Vancouver rental housing prices of recent months. A new landlord can set rent to whatever price they want; whereas there are strict rules for how quickly rental costs can be increased on an existing tenant.

Some are saying that penalties for landlords who break the rules of the Tenancy Act are far too lax – a mere two month’s rent in compensation to the previous tenant. In one such recent case, a Ms.Gazzola was given two months to remove herself from the home she had lived in for almost thirty years, with the excuse that the house had been sold and that the buyer’s family was to be living in the home. When the sale was finalized, it turned out to be new, more higher-paying tenants who moved in. This called for an appeal to be filed for compensation for the loss of her home.

If the appeal is awarded in favor of Ms.Gazzola, the new owners of the house will be required to pay her two months’ rent – an amount that they can easily and quickly recoup through the new high amount they are changing for rent; and an amount that some believe is not enough for Ms.Gazzola to have had to move over 45 minutes away, to a house with a steeper rental cost.

A group aimed at protecting tenants’ rights, the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre, exists to help people such as Ms.Gazzola. According the group, there has been a large increase in the amount of calls about “bad” evictions in the last year – jumping from 62 calls in a year, to 152 calls the next.

The current shortage of rental housing in Vancouver is a likely candidate to have contributed to the increase in poorly-evicted tenants – the number of applications to dispute eviction notices was well over 4,500 between August 2015 and July 2016. However, the tenancy branch could not comment on that number in relation to previous years as they had since changed their method of data collection. It is possible that this number is higher this year due to an extreme shortage of available suitable rentals – people are getting desperate, and are becoming more willing to pay steep rental prices just to get themselves and their families into a home.

These increased rental prices make it easier for a landlord to break the rules – as they know they can easily cover the costs of a penalty if they end up losing the case. Though, according to the Tenancy Branch, a large portion (18 percent) of the decisions do go in favor of the evicted tenants. Fifty-five percent end up being dismissed, sixteen percent are resolved by settlement, and only ten percent end up in favor of the landlord.

The tenancy branch remains strong that the Tenancy Act, and its subsequent penalties, is fair and balanced.

What are your thoughts on the penalties for “wrongful” evictions? Have you been in either side of this situation?  Tell us your stories below!

single-family homes Vancouver

Are Single Family Homes Harmful to Vancouver?

UBC Sociology Professor Nathan Lauster is speaking out against single-family homes in Vancouver. His soon-to-be-released (November 2nd, 2016) book “The Death and Life of the Single-Family House: Lessons from Vancouver on Building a Livable City” addresses his concerns for creating a city focused on better environment, greater urban vitality, and health of the citizens.

While a single-family home is becoming increasingly difficult to attain; Lauster is busy promoting the idea of multi-family living.

According to Lauster, one of the largest issues arising from single-family dwellings stems from the large amount of large needed to house a single family – the amount of space is not considered to be energy efficient as it encourages the family to drive rather than walk or bike. An issue, he says, that is as bad for our health as it is for the environment.

Lauster also states that encouraging us to be out in our environment would also encourage us to be more multiculutrally-friendly, as citizens would be near their neighbours rather than hidden away on a private property. Lauster disputes the idea that living in a single-family dwelling reflects a successful life; a mindset that he says causes a lot of people feeling like failures that they can’t afford a big house on a private property for their families to live in.

Vancouver is already starting to move in the direction of replacing the older single-family homes with new development – one such example can be found along the Cambie Corridor. According to Lauster, Vancouver is already well on its way to eradicating the single-family home; but believes that this process in Vancouver will see an increase in the speed at which it’s changing.

Do you covet the single-family home? Do you agree with Lauster on his views of Vancouver’s future? Let us know in the comments.

Apaprtment for rent

Rental Units Become Increasingly Difficult to Find

Currently, over 50% of Vancouver’s population is living in rental units. However, Vancouver citizens may have been noticing an extreme decline in availability of rental housing; and far fewer options available especially for those with kids or pets. No matter the budget, options have become extremely limited.

According to experts, a healthy rental market will hover between 3% and 5% vacancy. Vancouver has been right around the 0.5% mark for the last two years; and has been at 2% for more than ten years. Despite this, over forty thousand people move to Vancouver every year. Despite this favourable economy, Vancouver lacks enough rental inventory. Currently, rental prices are higher than ever before.

This all raises the question: why have more rental units not been added to the market? It all boils down to a few key issues:

– Land and construction costs have risen, coupling with lengthy approval times due to increased condo development;

– Community opposition: anti-development groups are strong within Vancouver and are considerably aggressive;

– Those who would benefit from more rental housing do not represent themselves at city council meetings, making impossible for a vote to favour more rentals.

A long term fix for Vancouver’s lack of rental units could be brought on by encouraging the collaboration of the private and public sectors to plan and build rental housing. This could help to quicken the process of approving rental projects, including subsidised options, which would in turn increase the range of options available and at lower costs.

Do you rent? How has the low vacancy affected you?