In a recent article published in Vancouver Courier, the author examined the city’s real estate market through an intriguing lens: the comparison of luxury condo prices between a handful of global, cosmopolitan cities, Vancouver included. In short, the findings (provided by Point2Homes, a real estate website) suggested that, relative to places like Monaco and Hong Kong, the value of a downtown Vancouver luxury condo was far greater on a cost-vs-size basis. Or in plainer terms, Vancouverites are paying slightly less for slightly more space, in comparison to their peers across the globe. The clear, intended effect of this observation was likely to contextualize and assuage the housing-hysteria that grips most of the city’s residents – but is it really all that comforting?
The first issue is one of framing. The studies cited in the article are exclusively to do with luxury condos – AKA the most unaffordable of the unaffordable homes in Vancouver. New developments in city-central locations may be the most desirable types of housing, but they’re drastically unrealistic for the majority of the city’s residents. For that reason, it’s difficult for the average Vancouverite to muster much enthusiasm for the fact that their wealthiest neighbors are paying slightly less for their ivory towers than Londoners and New Yorkers do. Moreover, even if one were in the market for luxury condos, I’m not sure how much comfort to derive from the knowledge that the real estate market is just as contentious in other major cities as it is here.
If anything, the article reveals how critical context is within the discourse surrounding a city’s real estate market. There are a multitude of reasons why the housing market in Hong Kong is the way it is – some cultural, some historical, all of them related to economics. The same could be said for each of the cities listed in the study; what binds them together is how unique and particular their individual situations are. In the case of Vancouver, a relatively young city perpetually aspiring to be a preconceived notion of “world-class”, it’s easy to get caught up in comparisons and reference points that ultimately are too removed from our reality to offer much in the way of meaningful comment.
All of this isn’t to say that it’s a positive thing to note that Vancouver’s luxury, downtown condos aren’t as expensive as they could be. But the issue at the core of the city’s housing woes is that modest homes are priced like luxury ones, leading to an imbalanced market that provides few footholds for new buyers, young professionals, and families. Douglas Todd, in his excellent article for the Vancouver Sun, demonstrates this conclusively, turning the compare-to-other-cities model on its head by counting out the many ways in which Vancouver’s housing issues are unique. Ultimately, that simple recognition goes a long way: unless there is acceptance and understanding regarding the exact nature of Vancouver’s real estate market, then there can never be the forward-thinking, innovative solutions that allow for real progress.
Tallbridge Investments believes selling and investing in real estate should be enjoyable, relationship-based, done with ease and be profitable. They serve others and help them achieve their own real estate goals. Established in 2015, Tallbridge Investment Corp. is a real estate services company headquartered in Vancouver, Canada. They specialize in buying and selling off-market properties in the United States. They offer a broad and diverse portfolio of real estate solutions and off-market investment opportunities.
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