Downtown Vancouver rents fell by 24% due to the pandemic

May 14 2021, 9:49 am

Rental housing market conditions in downtown Vancouver over the past year were certainly deep into the renters’ market territory.

According to a new analysis by Vancouver-based digital platform Liv Rent, average rental prices in downtown Vancouver fell by 24.1% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020.

For unfurnished rental homes in downtown Vancouver, during the same year-over-year period, one-bedroom units saw a 0.5% rent drop to $1,978, two-bedroom units saw a 12.1% drop to $2,769, and three-bedroom units saw a 25.3% drop to $3,340.

Although all areas saw a declining trend, the decrease in unfurnished unit rentals was comparably less pronounced than other areas. West Vancouver is down by 8.6%, North Vancouver down by 9%, South Vancouver down by 15.9%, Burnaby down by 9.4%, and Richmond and Surrey down by only 4.4% and 3.4%, respectively.

In contrast to Toronto and Montreal, Vancouver has remained the strongest rental market amongst Canada’s big three urban areas, and the region’s neighbourhoods are recovering and approaching pre-pandemic levels. Researchers state Vancouver is showing signs of a quicker recovery than other parts of Canada.

The only unit type in downtown Vancouver that recorded an increase in rent was one-bedroom units. Although they rebounded in January 2021, rents fell the following month in keeping with trends seen in both furnished and unfurnished units.

Vancouver was the only city in the country that saw a positive increase in rents during March 2021 for a furnished one-bedroom unit — against the backdrop of a noticeable decrease in rents across Canada over the month.

Across the board, average rental prices during the first quarter of 2021 in Vancouver reached $2,429 for furnished units (down 13.3% year-over-year) and $2,255 for unfurnished units (down 9.1% year-over-year).

The report states the level of rent in the first quarter of 2021 was a response to the lack of international students, and the new travel restrictions implemented during February that prompted many international students to cancel their returning flights to Canada.

Travel restrictions are likely to be relaxed over the coming months, just in time for the start of the new school year. The provincial government has already given post-secondary institutions the green light to plan for the restart of full in-person instruction at campuses in September 2021. This will lead to the return of many international students and a corresponding upswing in rental demand, especially in the Vancouver Westside in and near UBC, and in and around downtown Vancouver.

Rents are expected to see an upward creep over the coming months as the pandemic begins to wane.

Liv Rent states its analysis is based on the comprehensive pooling of data, not just from its own rental platform, but also from competitor websites such as Craigslist, Zumper, Padmapper, Kijiji, and Realtor.ca.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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