METRO VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It’s no surprise; a new poll has found housing affordability is top of mind for those living around Metro Vancouver.
The Angus Reid Institute‘s newest survey finds this to be the most pressing issue among those living in the region, and it turns out they’re not completely satisfied with the provincial government’s efforts to address it.
“This is a follow up to a dual study that we did in the summer of 2015 where we looked at, basically, pain points in terms of traffic, transit, commuting, as well as housing affordability,” explains Executive Director Shachi Kurl, who adds the issues were researched in both Metro Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area.
“What we found three years ago is people, particularly in Metro Vancouver, were in four categories; the happy, the comfortable, the uncomfortable, and the miserable.”
Among the miserable, Kurl says you’d find young families, those paying a lot for housing, and those dealing with long commutes.
However, three years later, even with a new provincial government, the study has found that people around Metro Vancouver are just as miserable as they were back then.
“That change in government hasn’t necessarily brought overall satisfaction, because people are not seeing that relief,” she says. “Whether it’s reasonable to expect it within a year due to government intervention, I think that sort of speaks to the point that two-thirds say regardless of whatever government does to help, it really won’t help.”
While Kurl says many have been supportive of a number of the B.C. government’s plans and interventions aimed at creating more accessibility into the housing market, she adds people aren’t feeling the effects or any relieve from those measures.
What people want
The survey has found the majority — about 80 per cent — believe the region as a whole is being “hurt” by high housing prices.
Kurl says normally people see a growth in housing prices as a good thing, however, in this case she says there’s a continued recognition that wealth is being built for those who got into the market at the right time.
“For others the increase in housing prices is either making it so that there are a lot of young people who feel quite hopeless about ever accessing the market, and for those who do, it is a burden rather than a joy or something they feel good about,” she tells NEWS 1130.
So what it is that people want to see happen to address the issue of housing affordability and people being priced out of the market? Kurl says many want to see it fall.
“Almost half are looking for the market to fall,” she explains. “And while that skews heavily among people that are renters, you do see significant segments of people who own their homes saying that they would either like to see the market fall a little bit, about 10 per cent, or significantly, which would be 30 per cent or more. That is a surprising thing to see.”
Those willing to take a hit, she adds, are mostly those who’ve been able to get into the market early — around the 80s or earlier — who are able to take a hit.
“For those who own their homes and express a desire to see housing prices fall, either a little bit or a lot, there is an ability to, in their minds, absorbe that hit — most likely because they’ve finished paying their mortgage, and a loss of a certain amount is still over and well above what they would have paid for the place and paid once they extinguished their mortgage.”
This is not the case for those who’ve put everything they have into a property in recent years, she says.
“A fall would be catastrophic.”
Cynicism around the future
Despite the government’s efforts to try and address the issue of unaffordability, Kurl says there continues to be a sense of cynicism, fatalism, and resignation among Metro Vancouverites around where the region is going.
“Many of these measures have been very popular, whether we’re talking about a speculation tax, or increases in the property transfer tax or the empty homes tax, the perception among the majority of people in Metro Vancouver is that these efforts have not really done very much to cool the market.”
A tale of two cities
It looks like the Greater Toronto Area is starting to catch up with Metro Vancouver in terms of difficulties around housing affordability, the study has found.
Three years ago, those living in the Metro Toronto area cited transit as their main pain point, Kurl says, but that’s since changed.
“I think this is very much a tale of two cities,” she says. “In Metro Vancouver, people’s levels of pain, if anything, have not subsided and in many cases have intensified. In Metro Toronto, when we looked at this issue three years ago, transit was the number one issue, not the cost of housing, not real estate prices.”
But now, that is becoming a reality in Ontario’s capital and Kurl explains Toronto is starting to feel Vancouver’s pain, while the later continues to deal with it.Banking on a burst bubble: Even half of Metro Vancouver home owners want housing prices to fall