Kitsilano Condo

Why condo prices are so high in Kitsilano, Fairview, and other Vancouver neighbourhoods

A recent Vancouver Sun article describes Vancouver home prices as four times higher than Winnipeg’s, and more than half again what people in Toronto pay.  Most people in Vancouver are reminded of this fact on a regular basis throughout different stages in their lives –whether owners or renters- here’s a quick explanation why.

The most obvious reason is our geography.  According to a recent Sun article approximately 70 percent of the land around Vancouver isn’t developable. It is mountains, water, or the United States.  Toronto, Winnipeg, and most other major Canadian cities do not face these geographical issues and suburban “sprawl” dominates development practices.  Anyone who’s had a window seat on an airplane flying into or out of these cities has witnessed how massive suburban sprawl can be - rows upon rows of identical houses as far as the eye can see. That mass development style without our geographical boundaries means more home inventory can be built when demand exists.  A much larger supply makes prices in these cities much more affordable.

The second reason actually has to do with the first.  Our mountains, rivers, and oceans consistently rank BC as one of the top places in the world for quality of living.  British Columbians are some of the most active healthy people you will find.  This has been proven as studies on life expectancy in major cities in the world put BC alongside Japan for the longest average life expectancy.  This quality of life and healthy living provided by our environment leads to consistently strong population growth – 1.3 to 1.5 percent per year.  This means over 30,000 people a year move to Vancouver from outside and within the country.   The result?  The bigger the population a city has the higher the condo and home prices will be. More popular areas like Kitsilano, Fairview, and downtown will always have some of Vancouver’s most expensive home prices. 

Tsur Sommerville, of the UBC  Center for Urban Economics and Real Estate puts it into an interesting perspective:

“if we lose 70 percent of the land, our metropolitan area of two million will have the same house prices as a seven million metropolitan area.  Because people have to commute the same distance”

When talking to people about home prices and how they feel about the real estate market in Vancouver almost unanimously people will say it’s too expensive. Yet when asked if they would prefer to live somewhere else I often responses such as -  

“Like where ... Toronto?  Winnipeg?...  are you kidding!”