Has Lower Mainland real estate evolved?

Has Lower Mainland real estate evolved?  The simple answer is yes, and our local housing market continues to change.

Since 1996, the development of regional and municipal town centres has been the focus of Metro Vancouver’s Liveable Region Strategic Plan. This growth strategy was adopted to make complete communities with amenities and jobs convenient to where people live.

A large proportion of the population surge was planned to be concentrated in these town centres and, in particular, in smaller multi-family units – a desirable home for many baby boomers who want to downsize for retirement.

However, in the future, it’s expected more people will live their entire life in multi-family buildings and, fortunately, the market is already meeting this demand by increasing the supply. For example, earlier this year, multi-family homes in Port Moody became the city’s main source of available housing stock.

But consider a news release, issued in July 2008, by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, which stated, “Increased property listings and moderating home prices have eased the Greater Vancouver housing market into a buyer’s phase.”

As developers rush to complete in the midst of this weakening market, we learn that Canadian developers have been overbuilding for six years.

A Merrill Lynch report, dated August 2008, by economists David Wolf and Carolyn Kwan stated, “It is likely that homebuilding will continue to proceed at an above-trend pace in coming quarters, in fact adding to excess supply due to the notoriously long lead times on construction”

Despite a home building industry that continues to run roughshod we are very fortunate to have an unrivalled quality of life in the Lower Mainland (it’s too bad we can’t get quality built homes or quality homeowner protection to match).

Metro Vancouver is uniquely situated as Canada’s gateway to emerging markets and has a reputation as one of the most liveable regions in the world.  This helps to explain the continued net gains from in-migration and why the global spotlight of the 2010 Olympic torch is unlikely to stop the desirability or demand of West Coast living.

Let’s just hope this new demand for housing is enough to prevent yet another unchecked building industry created disaster in BC.

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