Ghost homes: How vacancy rates are changing in BC

Mar 15 2022, 6:21 pm

BC residents are likely familiar with “ghost” or vacant homes, but there are a few locations where the problem is on the rise, and a few spots where the problem is starting to see a turnaround.

The place that saw the biggest increase may come as a bit of a surprise, but even the places that saw the highest vacancy rates in 2021 were lower than they have been in a decade.

In 2001, 7.8% of all homes in Canada were vacant. In 2006, that increased to 8.4%, and in 2016 it increased to 8.7%. Vancouver, home to many dubious honours, was the city that took on the highest share of empty homes.

According to point2homes, which compiled the data on vacancy rates across Canada, one of the main reasons the idea of housing vacancy is so important is because it can provide insights into the impact that vacancy has on affordability.

Point2homes says that some analysts believe vacancy rates have no impact, while others believe that the phenomenon is contributing to the erosion of home affordability.

For BC, Kelowna, Victoria, Vernon and Vancouver have the highest vacancy rates. But when it comes to the BC spot that saw the biggest increase from 2011, that title belongs to Delta.

Since 2011, Delta saw an increase of 47%, followed by Port Moody at 31%, Langley at 21%, Burnaby at 11%, and Richmond at 4%.

Delta was also the only BC city in the top 20 when it comes to how much vacancy has increased in the last decade.

vacancy bc


The graphic above also shows the spots that saw the biggest drop in vacancy rates, including Mission, West Kelowna, and Abbotsford.

Despite Vancouver suffering from one of the highest vacancy rates in BC, point2homes suggests that there have been some positive changes in the city. Compared to 10 years ago, vacancy rates are down 9% in Vancouver, and compared to 2016, they’re down 14.5%.

In 2016, there were 25,502 unoccupied homes, and last year that number dropped to 23,011.

You can see the full report on vacancy rates in Canada here.

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