It’s hardly an original thought to think of housing as ecological: nothing stands in isolation, no piece is separate from the whole. My favourite example: the relationship of the West End to Downtown South in the 1990s. As thousands of units came on stream east of Burrard, they took the pressure off the West End, which changed neither in number nor rental rates, when adjusted for inflation, hardly at all. It remained, as it largely does today, a lower middle-income neighbourhood.
Despite perception at the time, the West End was not an island, isolated from the changes that occurred beyond its borders. Rather, its stability was in large part a consequence of that adjacent turbulence: those who arrived in the city could find accommodation in new buildings without having to compete with those in older rental suites.
That’s not the situation with single-family homes since they’re not making any more of the latter, while the condo market, at least, seems to have flattened out with additional supply.
Which makes me wonder how much the prices of single-family homes in markets beyond those impacted directly by investment and foreign capital are secondarily affected – when, say, a boomer couple cash out their west-side bungalow for millions more than anticipated and then pass along several hundred thousand to their children to purchase east of Main.
How much has that rising tide of money lifts prices elsewhere, and for whom and how many has it kept an unaffordable city still within achievable reach? Is that what explains how those who, by income, can’t afford to live or buy in Vancouver but nonetheless do? And is it a significant portion of the market?
Gee, some data might be useful.