Vancouver's tenants and their single-family home dreams

by Ephraim Vecina18 Nov 2018

The affordability crunch in Vancouver has pushed rental apartments and condo units to the fore as the budget choice for young families – but if it were up to the renters, they’d rather settle down on a single-family home elsewhere.

Indeed, almost 30% of the respondents of a new study published by Altus Group last week admitted that if price was not an issue, they would choose to live in a single-family home in the suburbs instead of staying in a rental unit in the downtown area.

The only thing still preventing 32% of Vancouver’s young tenants from moving is the fact that they are still saving for their down payments, the survey noted.

Another 11% stated that they don’t feel that they will qualify for the tighter mortgage stress tests, while a similar proportion of young renters said that they are waiting for their opportunity until home prices go down.

A similar analysis by Sotheby’s International Realty Canada found that 83% of young households nationwide would prefer to raise their families in detached homes over any other housing type, everything else (including prices) being equal.

Read more: Downtown Vancouver has highest average price per square foot

“The popular perception is that people in modern families have typically preferred multi-unit and city centre locations, when in fact what the report shows is if price were no object, they would prefer single family homes,” Sotheby’s International Realty Canada president and CEO Brad Henderson said.

“What the data is telling us that it's becoming harder and harder to achieve that objective,” he added. “The price of housing has gone up faster than wages so the dream of detached home ownership is becoming more difficult.”

The Altus study bore out this observation: only 11% of current renters in Vancouver are planning to purchase their own homes next year.

“While homebuying intentions are up among current home buyers [14% in 2017 to 19% this year], this has been offset by weaker intentions among current renters – the latter being the primary pool for potential first-time buyers. Affordability remains a challenge for first-time buyers in the Vancouver market,” Altus said.

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