Vancouver investors getting more condo builds

"Residential construction in British Columbia is about 10% ahead of 2011 levels due to a pick-up in multiple-family construction," said Carol Frketich, a regional economist with CMHC.

Overall, there were 1,867 housing starts in B.C.’s urban areas during April. That’s down marginally from the 1,898 housing starts recorded a year earlier. The gap would have been considerably wider if not for that increase in multiple-family construction, said Frketich, pointing to a dip in single-detached housing starts compared to April 2011 levels.

Investors are expected to sop nearly 20 per cent of those new condo units, some coming on stream as early as late 2013. Many have in fact struggled to find and acquire detached houses on the Lower Mainland as prices continue their upward creep despite a slowdown in the number of sales.

A 16 per cent increase in housing starts for the greater Vancouver area is also expected to increase rental demand for those new strata apartments as more and more residents sit out the slowing boom, waiting for a long-promised correction.

Still, investors are just as hopeful that sellers will eventually temper their price expectations, bringing them closer in line with buyers.

There is reason to keep hope alive. The number of homeowners bringing their houses, condo, et al, to market has actually increased 16 per cent from a year ago. Analysts point to sellers’ own dreams of cashing out at the height of the market and before interest rates go up.

But that increased inventory is expected to frustrate those ambitions as buyers become spoiled for choice. That situation is somewhat distinct from Canada’s other high-priced market, Toronto, where a dearth of homes for sale has helped to keep prices at record levels, say analysts.

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