There are currently more than 25,000 empty houses in Vancouver: report

Aug 21 2019, 2:06 pm

You can blame it on foreign buyers’ jacking up prices and unaffordability all you want, but Canada’s housing problems extend well beyond that.

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Investor speculation and short-term rentals are the main culprits behind high vacancy rates in Canada’s largest cities, whereas decreasing populations, combined with fluctuations in local economies, are also contributing to the increase in the number of vacant homes across the country, according to a new report from Point2Homes.

In 2001, the Canadian government first started collecting data on occupied dwellings, and found that 7.8% of all homes in the country were empty. And this number only continued to increase. B

By 2006, the vacancy rate had jumped to 8.4%, and in 2016 it reached 8.7%.

Here in Vancouver, our city has the highest share of empty homes of any major Canadian city examined. Its 8.2% rate translates into about 25,000 vacant homes.

Ghost homes in BC / Point2Homes

The number of empty dwellings in Vancouver went up 9.6% between 2006 and 2016.

Some BC cities studied saw larger swings. North Cowichan on Vancouver Island saw an 82.6% increase in vacancy rates, while Port Moody saw a 50.4% decrease.

Although populations have increased in all BC cities, vacancy rates decreased in only 10 of the 28 cities included in the study, authors found.

The study found that the newly-introduced Empty Homes Tax, which sees homeowners pay the equivalent of 1% of the home’s value if it’s left vacant, has brought in a lot of tax revenue — but there is no consensus if the goal of encouraging owners to rent out empty homes has been successful.

The highest vacancy rate in 2016 was West Vancouver, at 9.2%, according to the study, up from 6.7% in 2006.

In comparison, Toronto had 66,000 empty homes, which is just slightly higher than Montreal at 64,000. Whereas Calgary, Ottawa, and Edmonton, all have more than 20,000 vacant properties, according to the report.

To find these numbers, Point2Homes analyzed demographic and housing data for Canada’s 150 largest cities in the decade between 2006 and 2016 (the most recent available data).

Of Canada’s 10 largest cities, Winnipeg saw the biggest jump in the number of empty homes (42.7%), followed by Montréal (36.3%), and Edmonton (32.5%).

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