Vancouver housing affordability not expected to improve: UDI

Townhouses in Burnaby. As of the end of 2016, the UDI found only eight available units of this home type across Metro Vancouver | Shutterstock

Affordability is not expected to improve in Vancouver’s housing market as long as zoning restrictions, approval delays and other factors are leading to a severe supply shortage, according to an Urban Development Institute report released February 20.

Placing the blame on foreign buyers and introducing new taxes have not led to—and will not lead to—more plentiful and affordable housing in the city, said UDI president Anne McMullin.

“We have plenty of available land, but 85% of it is locked up as restrictive, single family zoning, meaning no multi-family condos, townhomes, rowhomes, duplexes or even sales of laneway homes are permitted,” McMullin said.

“Coupled with years of delays in multi-family building approvals, rising land costs and lack of available land to build on, aside from industrial, agricultural and park land reserves, home-seekers can count on prices to keep rising.”

While the population of Metro Vancouver increased by 30,700 over the past year, housing supply has not followed suit and the rental vacancy rate has fallen to 0.6%.

“We need more houses for more people,” McMullin said.

Townhomes are in particularly short supply; the UDI found there were only eight available units of this home type across the entire region as of the end of 2016. By comparison, at the end of 2012, there were more than 350 units of this type available.

There were 3,416 new multi-family homes available for purchase as of year-end. This is down 30% year-over-year.

The UDI report was sponsored in part by Glacier Media, the parent company of Business in Vancouver