Metro Vancouver family housing availability ‘falls off a cliff,’ report

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – The availability of new and move-in ready multi-family housing continues to drop in the Lower Mainland, with no such townhomes available in Vancouver by the end of March, according to a report from the Urban Development Institute (UDI).

The report says there were only 16 townhomes and 15 condominiums ready to move into across the entire Lower Mainland by the end of the first quarter.

“So, anybody moving to the region, there is literally nothing available in the townhome market in the City of Vancouver. There is some resale, but even in resale there isn’t a lot in the townhome and certainly not in the rental either,” explains UDI president Anne McMullin.
The institute’s report tracks quarterly population growth with new home sales, prices and supply.

While pre-sales for a variety of homes were up, according to the report, anyone moving to the region today or in need of a new home soon will have a hard time finding a place to live.

“Most of our buildings sell out within a matter of weeks and months so by the time they come to market, there just isn’t the standing inventory available for people to move in,” McMullin says.

She acknowledges pre-sales are vital to getting bank funding for new projects, but adds Metro Vancouver is building well below demand.
While McMullin says supply plays a major role in dealing with the issue, cities must also rezone more land for multi-family homes and streamline the development process to decrease the amount of time it takes to get a new project approved.

“We’ve still got 85 per cent of our land base trapped in single family homes,” she says, adding some communities continue to resist densification.

Local realtor Steve Saretsky agrees with the current state of the new housing market, but cautions that the solution is not as simple as supply and rezoning. “The report sort of preaches supply, supply, supply, but until you can really tackle the irrational demand that’s coming into the market, I don’t think it’s going to do a whole lot.”

He says the Lower Mainland needs to look at what those demand factors are, such as speculators with the ability to buy multiple condos. “Trying to keep up with that sort of demand is going to be impossible.”

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