Ten years of the "million dollar line" illustrates rapid increase in Vancouver home values

A decade ago, it neatly dilineated Vancouver’s tony Westside from funky East Vancouver.

Today the million dollar line, a concept mapped by Vancouver urban planner Andy Yan, has been completely obliterated: Vancouver, east and west, is simply a sea of red. The new threshold to watch may be the $2 million line, says Yan.

“What we see is a relatively very recent amount of time that we see the kind of values we have,” Yan said, observing how the steep value increase rippled across the city — an increase that has only become more dramatic.

Maps created by Andy Yan

“The interesting thing will be how it will move to the rest of the region, and moving into places outside the region like Victoria and Kelowna,” he said.

Yan is the author of a controversial study showing that 66% of homes purchased in Vancouver’s very pricy Dunbar neighbourhood were bought by people who were likely recent arrivals from mainland China.

Watch to see how home values have risen over the past 10 years. Created by Andy Yan, Simon Fraser University

While foreign capital is a factor, it’s not the only one, Yan said.

“Everybody thought of this as a game of Clue: who dunnit? But what happens when it’s actually a convergence of actors?” he said.

“It’s limited supply coupled with low interest rates, coupled with global capital, coupled with flipping, speculative behaviours and how they all come together.”

As both Vancouver and Toronto’s real estate markets spiral upwards, prompting a stern warning earlier this week from the Bank of Canada, Yan believes the federal and provincial governments have a role to play.

He is one of several experts who will meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Vancouver today.