Vancouver is located in the balmy Lower Mainland of British Columbia. It has the highest population for the province, but even at 600,000 people, that is still far less than most major urban centres. As a coastal seaport city, it has warmer year-round temperatures than the rest of Canada as well as stunning land, sea, and mountain views that are hard to find anywhere else.
All of this makes it ideally situated for those who want an urban life close to outdoor activities. So, should you buy real estate in Vancouver?
Vancouver ranks high when it comes to livability. Many of the preferred neighbourhoods such as the West End, Kerrisdale, and Main offer excellent amenities like retail and restaurants. They are also close to parks and have excellent walkability ratings. If you don’t want to walk, there is also easy access to public transit.
When buying a home, Vancouver ranks high for the following livability factors:
- Green space and parks
- Biking and walkability
It ranks medium for:
- Employment opportunities
- Economic development
- Medical care
Of course, it is ranked low for housing affordability, but that is no surprise.
Buying a single-family house in the City of Vancouver market is unreachable for most people, according to MoneySense. However, if the average detached house price of $1.7 million is within your budget, now could be an excellent time to buy as price drops are happening.
MoneySense reported home sales dropped to a 20-year low in April 2019, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). A slowdown in sales and an increase in inventory is seeing real estate housing prices for detached homes at the lowest since 2016. When you compare the home prices in East and West Vancouver, the benchmark for a detached house in the east is down 12.1% at $1,357,200, while the west is down 13.4% but still sits at a whopping $2,948,400. This translates into a decrease between $177,000 to almost $500,000 from 2018.
However, according to Vancouver Courier, the benchmark price in June for all property types combined finally slipped below the $1 million to $998,700, a 9.6% decrease from June 2018. This is the first time since May 2017 that the price has been below $1 million.
Condos in Vancouver
Vancouver Courier also reported that condo sales in Metro Vancouver are seeing an acute decline, with total condo sales in June at 941 units. That marks a 24.1% decrease from 2018. As well, the benchmark price for a Metro Vancouver condo is 8.9% lower from June of last year and 1.4% lower than May 2019. The average condo price is currently sitting at $654,700.
The Millennial Element
Millennials make up the largest home-buying population. With this in mind, many sellers are trying to target millennials with their marketing approach. In Vancouver, things can get pretty competitive, so having a selling strategy can be helpful.
For millennials, these condo prices certainly work out in their favour. Since millennials are the most dominant demographic in Vancouver, if you are in this age group, you might look to the condo market for your first home.
Condos tend to offer a more tech-friendly and environmentally conscious option as well. Some of the things that might attract millennials to Vancouver condos would include:
- Green, energy-efficient homes: The green home is a must for a generation who is very concerned about the climate crisis. Condos offer a reduced ecological footprint in hand with improved insulation, efficient lighting, and updated plumbing systems.
- Smart, connected homes: Smart homes are becoming more common in condos, including light controls, home security systems, and smart thermostats.
- Entertaining spaces: Open, usable spaces are ideal for entertaining, not to mention a stunning waterfront view. This, of course, can up the price tag.
- The neighbourhood: Vancouver areas can be closer to work, green spaces, and parks.
All of these reasons, along with decreasing prices, point at condos as a more realistic option for first-time buyers in the Vancouver housing market regardless of age.
Best Vancouver Areas
The best places to live in Vancouver, include hidden gems Main, Mount Pleasant, Downtown Vancouver West, as well as Renfrew-Collingwood. They offer great neighbourhoods, a stable supply of housing inventory, and affordable prices.
According to MoneySense, the three hottest neighbourhoods in Vancouver are:
This area offers the best value much because it is still transitioning. So, you can still get in on the ground floor while the neighbourhood gentrifies. It could take another five years or so before it has the amenities you expect, but its potential alone makes the area a good choice for buyers. Although there are better areas, you’ll pay 25% less for the average-priced home compared to most Vancouver West areas. In the past five years alone, properties have soared in value by 116%.
If you are set on living in Vancouver West, Kitsilano is another option. You’ll be looking at a much higher price tag with a 2018 average price of $2,615,000. However, you get what you pay for: a far better sense of community than Marpole in hand with diversity for shopping and dining, an easy commute, and good walkability. It is also close to the beach and offers mature trees and well-maintained gardens.
This South Vancouver area flanks Knight Street from 16th Street in the north and either 49th or 54th Street in the south. Homes here are more affordable at $1.6 million. It is diverse with culture and in mid-gentrification. However, if you are not a fan of the box-like houses built between the mid-60s to mid-80s, you may not be happy here. There will be the odd custom-build or townhome available, but for the most part, you’re looking at the “Vancouver Special” as the most common find.
These homes tend to need some love, which can offset the price. The area does offer an easy commute to downtown Vancouver. It might be a DIYers dream, or you can add renos into the math to get a more realistic look at the true price. As a bonus, there are growing amenities, including a relatively new community centre to meet the needs of this family-oriented area.
Vancouver is a pricey area, but buyers will always have their sights set on it. Condos and the less-developed communities could offer opportunities for some buyers to get their foot in the door of the Vancouver real estate market. A real estate agent can help you navigate the market to find the best bet for your budget.
Buying or selling a home is likely the largest and most important transaction you’ll ever make. That’s why so many trust RE/MAX: the most widely recognized real estate brand in the world. For more than 20 years, RE/MAX has been the leading real estate organization in Canada. By providing the best training, administrative and marketing support, brokers and agents are free to focus on what they do best: sell real estate.