Where to buy real estate in Canada 2021: City of Vancouver
Vancouver is always in high demand—but where can house hunters find value? We dug into the stats and talked to local experts to find out.
Vancouver is always in high demand—but where can house hunters find value? We dug into the stats and talked to local experts to find out.
|Sub division||Postal FSA||Neighbourhood name||Overall rank||Avg price 2020||1-year growth||3-year growth||5-year growth||Value score (out of 5 stars)||Neighbourhood economics score (out of 5 stars)||Neighbourhood accessibility score (out of 5 stars)||% Households with Children|
|vancouver||V5N||east vancouver - knight||7||$1,408,365||12.9%||5.1%||38.9%||4.4||1.3||4.0||34%|
While Vancouver is bordered by both the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains, natural beauty isn’t the only thing the city has to offer—it’s considered one of the most liveable places in the world, thanks to its vibrant neighbourhoods, accessible nature and its urban amenities. It’s widely known as one of the most desirable and expensive cities in Canada.
Located in the southwest of the Metro Vancouver region, the city is bordered by the Fraser River in the south, the municipalities of Burnaby and North Vancouver to the east and north, and the Strait of Georgia to the west. It’s sheltered from the open Pacific Ocean by Vancouver Island and is connected to both the northern and southern ends of British Columbia by the Sea to Sky Highway. The TransCanada Highway also runs through the city, connecting Vancouver to eastern B.C. via Burnaby, Surrey and Abbotsford.
Vancouver is generally classified into “West Side” and “East Side.” The West Side encompasses everything west of Ontario Street and includes Stanley Park, the shopping districts of Robson and Alberni Streets, and Davie Village, the heart of the city’s LGBTQ+ community. East Vancouver stretches to Boundary Road adjacent to Burnaby and is home to the third-largest Chinatown in North America, Main Street and Hastings Street shopping districts, and the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood. Downtown Vancouver is located in its north end by the port district, just below where the Burrard Inlet separates Vancouver from North Vancouver.
The city is full of vibrant neighbourhoods, restaurants, festivals, and sights. It’s also home to many beaches, like Kitsilano Beach, English Bay Beach, and Second Beach, as well as the Stanley Park Seawall, the longest uninterrupted oceanfront path in the world. Attractions like Stanley Park Aquarium, downtown Robson Square, and the Art Gallery of Vancouver, draw tourists every year, not to mention the world-class skiing, hiking, and surfing that’s just a stone’s throw away.
A car isn’t a necessity in Vancouver, as it has a network of greenways for walking and cycling across the city. It also has TransLink, the public transit network, which includes the SkyTrain that connects downtown with nearby municipalities, and the Seabus which connects North Vancouver to the downtown core. Roughly half of the commuters use a method other than driving to get to work, in contrast to the rest of Metro Vancouver, where 64% of people are car-dependent.
With 631,486 people calling Vancouver home, according to the 2016 Census, the city is the largest municipality by population in the Metro Vancouver region. As both a trade and immigration hub, that number is growing fast, increasing over 9.2% in the last decade alone. Of that population, 42% are immigrants. Vancouver also lies on the unceded lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, who make up 1.6% of the population.
It is a relatively young city, with a median age of 29.9, and has comparatively fewer children than other major Canadian municipalities, with only 20% of households having families.
The City of Vancouver had a GDP of $137 billion in 2017, according to the Conference Board of Canada, with a growth rate of 4.5%, accounting for 7.5% of Canada’s GDP. However, incomes are lower here than in some of Canada’s other large cities; with a median household income of $65,000, the fifth-lowest in the nation. As well, Vancouver residents are among the most likely in Canada to spend more than a third of their household income on housing, tied with Toronto at 37%. However, the unemployment rate is 5.6%, the second-lowest in Canada.
While Vancouver has strong manufacturing and forestry roots, its top industries have pivoted and no longer rely on natural resources. These include the professional services/tech sector, healthcare, and the service industry. There’s also a thriving film industry; the city’s natural and city settings in close proximity have made it an ideal filming location for many movies and TV shows.
Vancouver is notorious for having the highest housing prices in all of Canada and is frequently rated among the most expensive markets globally. This is due to both high levels of immigration, and unique geographical challenges; bordered by both water and mountains, there isn’t much room to accommodate the housing needs of a growing population. For this reason, the majority of housing stock in the City of Vancouver is mainly apartments or “strata”, which account for 61% of the city’s dwelling types. Detached single-family homes make up 15%, with the rest being row- and townhouses.
Even before the onset of the pandemic, the Vancouver real estate market was turbulent. The Metro Vancouver region has absorbed a number of corrective measures designed to cool housing prices and speculative activity in recent years such as a foreign buyers’ tax, empty homes tax, and out-of-province speculation tax. The region and city were also hit hard by the federal mortgage stress test introduced at the start of 2019, which required borrowers to qualify for a mortgage rate much higher than the one they were actually getting.
The measures had proved effective, with average prices dipping 8.8% in Vancouver East, and 10.7% in Vancouver West by May of that year.
In March 2020, real estate prices had bounced back modestly, up 2.7% year over year in Vancouver East at an average of $1,096,500, and 3.4% in Vancouver West at $1,296,200. (The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver splits the city’s data into two in its reporting.) Both ends of the city had a total of 292 and 466 sales, respectively.
As witnessed in just about every Canadian market, sales plunged in April 2020 with the onset of the pandemic, with just 120 transactions in Vancouver East, and 195 in Vancouver West—down 58.9% and 58.1% annually, though average prices remained stable at $1,102,600 and $1,291,900.
By June, however, the market had returned to its typical pace. There were a total of 685 sales (278 in Van East and 407 in Van West), an increase of 117% from April, with average prices up roughly 5% year over year.
Now that buyers, sellers, and agents have adapted to operating safely within COVID precautions, the market has experienced an outright boom over the last year. Overall sales rose 388.2% between April 2020 and March 2021, with the average price increasing 6.5% to $1,1574,800 in Vancouver East, and by 3.1% to $1,332,300 in Vancouver West.
However, the market may be starting to show signs of exhaustion, with buyers feeling burnt out from constant bidding wars. New supply coming online in time for spring is also playing a role in calming the market, says local real estate agent Casey Archibald. “We saw a huge spike in inventory right after Easter, which is a factor,” he says.
“I do think there is some buyer fatigue from having to consistently deal with multiple offers; we’re seeing a bit of a slight cool off in some segments like East Vancouver and the Westside,” says Archibald. “The downtown condo market wasn’t a bust, but I’ve seen a shift in activity in past weeks, though we aren’t seeing record prices like we were in the past.”
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With its downtown lifestyle and waterfront views, it’s no surprise Vancouver’s Fairview neighbourhood is a highly desirable destination for home buyers and tourists alike. Bordered to the north by False Creek and within walking distance to attractions like the famous Kitsilano Beach and Granville Island, this westside residential enclave is perfect for beachgoers and boating enthusiasts, with lots of shopping, dining and entertainment offered on close-by Cambie, Granville and Burrard Streets. Central Broadway is also a healthcare hub, home to Vancouver General Hospital and BC Cancer, while Vancouver’s City Hall is located just past Cambie St.
Fairview is well-situated on the SkyTrain Canada Line, with Olympic Village and Broadway City-Hall Stations within its borders. Most residents work within the City of Vancouver and 58% of them choose to walk, cycle, or take transit to get to work. As the neighbourhood is urban and high-density—a total of 33,620 people call it home, making up 5% of Vancouver’s overall population—much of the available housing stock is made up of low-rise and high-rise apartments.
The neighbourhood is popular with families and features a number of nearby elementary, middle, and secondary schools including the L’Ecole Bilingue Elementary School, Tennyson Elementary, Prince of Wales Secondary School, Kitsilano Secondary School, Eric Hamber Secondary School and Emily Carr Elementary, as well as the private Madrona School. The prestigious post-secondary Emily Carr University of Art + Design is also located nearby, on Granville Island.
As Fairview is one of the most desirable communities in the City of Vancouver, it has seen steady demand from home buyers, and especially the first-time buyer segment. The average home price in the neighbourhood was $958,069 over the course of 2020, a 10.3% increase from the previous year, and marking 52.1% growth from 2015. The neighbourhood’s impressive increase in value and comparable affordability to the rest of the city make it Zoocasa’s top-ranked community in the City of Vancouver.
Situated in the far southeast corner of Vancouver is the neighbourhood of Killarney, a community known for its diversity, healthy job market and spectacular river views. Built into the slope that rises above the northern edge of the Fraser River, neighbourhood limits stretch from Boundary Road to the City of Vancouver’s eastern border with Burnaby, with Richmond to the south.
Killarney is one of Vancouver’s more residential enclaves, but there are plenty of nearby urban amenities including Burnaby’s Metrotown centre and the international airport in Richmond. It is popular among newcomers to Canada and boasts a diverse population including people of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Japanese, South Asian and Caribbean ethnicities. One of the community’s standout features is its proximity to the Fraser River, a working waterway that links a number of Metro Vancouver municipalities along its shoreline. Residents can stroll along the river and take in sights of Mitchell Island, the Knight Street Bridge and the many boats that populate the waterway. Killarney is also an especially green neighbourhood, with several large parks and wooded trails within its limits including the Fraserview Golf Course, Everett Crowley Park, Captain Cook Park and Champlain Heights Park.
While the neighbourhood is not located directly on the SkyTrain line, it is well-serviced by the Translink bus network, and drivers have close access to Marine Way and the Kingsway at its south and north ends which connects it to Burnaby, New Westminster, and the municipalities to the east of the Metro Vancouver region.
Killarney has a population of 29,325, according to the 2016 Canadian Census, with families with children making up roughly half of all households. Much of the available homes for sale are single-detached houses, semi-detached, and townhouses, with a few high-rises, such as the Fraserlands, in development along the river.
The neighbourhood has four public elementary schools. Killarney Secondary is the largest secondary school in Vancouver and has built a reputation for its fine arts program. These schools make Killarney an ideal location for young families.
The average home prices in Killarney fall within the mid-range for Vancouver, costing an average of $1,511,546 in 2020. During the past year, the values have shown an 18% growth, bringing it to a 25.9% of growth since 2015.
Dunbar-Southlands is one of Vancouver’s more luxurious and mature neighbourhoods, full of quiet, residential streets lined with grand old trees, serene parks and waterfront views. Located in the western end of Vancouver along the northern edge of the Fraser River, the limits of Dunbar-Southlands extend from the University of British Columbia endowment lands to the west, West 16th Ave to the north, and to MacKenzie Street to the east.
Residents enjoy close access to a number of Vancouver’s famed beaches, including Kitsilano to the north, and Wreck Beach and the shores of English Bay to the west. The neighbourhood boasts a total of 10 parks including Pacific Rim Park and its extensive hiking trails, as well as a number of golf clubs. The neighbourhood is home to 21,000 residents.
In this historic community, some of the homes date back to the 1920s and 30s. Most of its housing are luxury estates, mansions, and farms; the community features one of the region’s most expensive postal codes. However, there are a small number of more affordable low-rise condo developments located along Dunbar Street. While the neighbourhood is not located on the Skytrain line, there are a number of bus routes servicing the area, and the bustle of downtown Vancouver is a 20-minute drive away.
The luxury and perks of the Dunbar-Southlands neighbourhood don’t come cheap; the average home price was $2,976,433 in 2020, reflecting a 6.8% growth from the previous year. Neighbourhood home values have seen steady growth over the long term, up 10.1% since 2015.
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