Published in 24 Hours Vancouver | September 11, 2013 | Circulation: 251,700
Vancouver lags only slightly behind Canada’s home ownership levels, according to newly released federal data that some experts think is misleading thanks to skyrocketing prices.
The 2011 National Household Survey found more than 65% of Vancouver households are owners, not renters, compared to 69% across Canada.
Vancouverites lead the nation in how much of their incomes go towards housing, with 33.5% paying more than the affordable level. Planners argue that those averages hide a substantial population living in severely unaffordable conditions.
“Although it is expensive, people in Metro (Vancouver) are prepared to pay a higher percentage of their income for housing in Vancouver,” architect and planner Michael Geller told 24 Hours. “This is one case where the average is somewhat misleading. I suspect the majority of people are well above that number, just based on my understanding of how the market is working.”
The survey, released Wednesday, found homeowners made up 9.2 million out of the 13.3 million households surveyed. In Vancouver, it also found a move away from single-family dwellings, as residents move into more densely packed units in pursuit of affordability.
“The fact that housing is very expensive in Vancouver doesn’t mean people don’t become owner-occupiers,” said Tsur Somerville of the Sauder School of Business. “But it does mean that they do so at a higher price, for less unit, than somewhere else.”