About Here: A Breakdown of Vancouver’s Housing Market and Why It’s So Expensive

Chinese investors? Greedy Developers? What could it be?

City & People

To get a better understanding of Vancouver’s expensive housing market, The MIX collaborated with About Here to see what the city can do to help bring down the rising costs of land and property.

As our first YouTube collaboration ever, we wanted to make sure we spoke with someone who had a solid understanding of the city and the urban planning projects to make it better.  About Here Founder Uytae Lee gave us a breakdown of what’s up and his hypothesis on why real estate in the city is so bloody expensive.

Unless you have a few million dollars lying around, purchasing a home in the city might not be a feasible goal in the near future.  But it’s not the houses are expensive – it’s the land.  With such a limited amount of land in the area, it’s driving the prices up. Basic economics, really. Low supply + plus high demand = skyrocket prices.

RELATED: Rising Real Estate: List of the Most Expensive Rental Prices in Vancouver

So what can we do to help lower the cost? In order to share the cost of the land between more people, we need to create spaces that allow more people on less land. This means creating buildings like condos, apartments, and mid-rises as opposed to individual houses. However, it’s not as straight-forward as it sounds.

Zoning regulations restrict what can and cannot be built on the land.  In Vancouver, there are tons of areas that are zoned for single houses.  Don’t believe us? Check out the map below:

Zoning map of Vancouver. (Mountain Math)

This zoning map of Vancouver reveals that the majority of Vancouver’s land only allow one family houses or duplexes. In fact, the green space on the map accounts for 81% of Vancouver’s residential land.   This means 81% of the land cannot be used to create more housing for Vancouverites.

Fortunately, Vancouver city council approved a plan called the ‘Making Room’ program to change these regulations. Their goal is to allow for buildings up to four stories tall in neighbourhoods that currently allow one-family dwelling homes. 

However, proposals like this one have been faced with fierce opposition, and sometimes even protests.  This is because current homeowners dislike these type of projects.  There is concern that more housing may lead to more problems like more traffic, more noise, and less parking spaces. Additionally,  argue that new developments threaten the very character and heritage of their neighbourhoods.

So the question is: What’s more important to Vancouver?

Is it better to keep a neighbourhood’s culture and character by restricting the amount of multi-level buildings in the area? Or should these same neighbourhoods be open to the idea of creating condos as a way to bring down housing prices?

Because at the end of the day, protecting the character of these neighbourhoods might be the very thing that is excluding people from Vancouver’s housing market.

About Here

About Here is a platform that creates informative videos about topics in the city.  According to the channel’s website, the videos strive to “present well informed and balanced analyses on relevant topics such as housing, transportation, development, politics, and much more.”  The goal is to make local city issues “interesting and accessible” that empower local residents to become active in their communities.

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