Perspectives on BC’s Housing Market

Experts provided startling data on the current state of BC’s housing market in the Lower Mainland and other regions across the province at Tuesday’s Large Urban Communities Forum.

Panelist Paul Kershaw, Associate Professor at UBC School of Population Health, said that housing is now the primary driver of net wealth for Canadians 50+ as well as the primary source of debt for younger Canadians.

According to Kershaw, younger Canadians have to save longer for a 20% down payment than previous generations. A house that would take five years of saving in 1976 now takes 12-16 years on average today in Canada– and up to 23 years in Vancouver. This increase has made the housing market effectively out of reach for younger British Columbians in Vancouver and other key markets in BC.

Panelist Thomas Davidoff, Associate Professor of Strategy and Business at Sauder Business School suggested that 95% of BC’s population are unable to afford a single detached home in the current Vancouver market. Davidoff challenged local government zoning laws which tend to prioritize detached single family homes over higher density types.

However, Davidson acknowledged that the recent 15% tax on foreign buyers and the City of Vancouver’s vacancy tax are steps in the right direction to address the increasing market.  Davidson also said  that more needs to be done, including a shift in focus to increase the tax on property over taxing income.

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