The dream for many in the middle class is that they will be able to afford a detached home with a yard. And many want this same dream for their children, so that they can have a rich and happy home-life for years to come. However, this dream is quickly becoming unattainable for those living in Vancouver. Single family homes are, essentially, poised to be placed on the endangered list.
Bob Rennie, the “condo king” of Rennie Marketing Systems, recently spoke to the Urban Development Institute. In his speech, he declared that “the world has moved on,…cities change, and that younger generations are adjusting their expectations.” The Harvard International Review has also pointed out that Vancouver is a great hedge city that is attracting foreign investors in droves. Particularly, Chinese and Russian investors are making millions from their capitalist countries, while fearing the unpredictable governmental regimes that can be oppressive. They see a locale like Vancouver as being a safe place to invest their fortunes.
Journalist Jessica Dormann has recently noted that “whole neighbourhoods are under construction.” She also ponders, “How long can Vancouver sustain these levels of growth and investment? And what will a sudden crisis in Beijing mean for Vancouver?” She also ponders what this problem will mean for Vancouver’s younger generations who will find it harder to afford local properties.
Following this same train of thought, Rennie has suggested that Vancouver institute a tax to cut back on real estate speculation. However, this will not fix the problem of foreign investment. Most foreign investors are not buying to resell again quickly for a fast buck. Instead, they are looking to buy a house and maintain it for the long term. Nor does it take care of the supply-and-demand issue as there are expected to be thousands of incoming immigrants annually who will need housing as well.
Another suggestion from Rennie to handle the demand problem is to more densely pack real estate with multi-family properties. He adds that the single-family detached home is going to be extinct soon in Vancouver. More and more properties will be tightly populated with families. In the five years between 2006 and 2011, Vancouver had 900 single-family homes demolished and converted into other types of property, such as duplexes, condominiums, and apartment complexes. Currently, there are only 47,000 single-family homes and very little land left to build new ones. Although the future is uncertain, one line of thinking is that if the supply increases to accommodate the demand, then perhaps the overall price will start to come back down to something that is more affordable for local Vancouver residents.