Discover more from Vancouver Needs More Housing
CBC on housing costs in 1988
Housing costs in Vancouver were comparable to Winnipeg
It’s easy to think that Vancouver housing being super-expensive is a law of nature, but that’s not actually true.
A CBC video clip from 1988. As late as 1988, housing costs in Vancouver were comparable to those in Winnipeg.
Runzheimer estimates that a family of four living in a Toronto suburb now needs an income of $67,000 a year [about $146,000 in 2022 dollars] to comfortably afford a three-bedroom home. In Calgary, the same lifestyle would cost $52,000. In Halifax, about $53,000. In Winnipeg, $57,000. And in Vancouver, $56,000.
What happened? In the 1970s, there was a steep drop in housing starts in BC, as it became more difficult to build multifamily housing - opposition to new housing increased a lot during this period. (Something similar happened in California - housing in California went from being 30% more expensive than the national average in 1970 to 80% more expensive in 1980.)
There was a more recent surge after 2014 (I suspect the 2014 oil price crash, bringing down the Canadian dollar, was a factor). As a direct response, there were a number of demand-side measures brought in to increase scrutiny and taxation of foreign investment in BC real estate, cooling the market somewhat.
Then Covid hit and we suddenly had more people working from home, resulting in an even more acute shortage of residential space (and a surplus of office space), not just in Vancouver but across the country. We're going to need to build a lot more residential space.
The picture from 2005 onward, for detached houses (not adjusted for inflation):