Housing Affordability in Review.

AuthorFeng, Judy

With November being housing month, it seems like the right time to reflect on the current housing affordability situation.

In November 2018, we featured an article covering the housing affordability experience in British Columbia and Ontario, with a focus on Vancouver and Toronto. Both provinces had just implemented property taxation changes and rent control measures. The article concluded that housing affordability was not an issue confined to Vancouver and Toronto, or even British Columbia or Ontario alone. Housing affordability was identified as a top policy priority across most of Canada, especially among younger demographics. With November being housing month, it seems like the right time to reflect on the current housing affordability situation. How has the law developed in those two provinces? What might the future bring for housing affordability policy and legislation in Canada?

Home prices and rent: moving on up

The sobering reality is that housing affordability is still a problem in Vancouver and Toronto. If anything, it's gotten even more expensive to buy or rent a home. The Canadian Real Estate Association's MLS Home Price Index Tool gives us average benchmark prices. In September 2018, the average price for a single detached home was around $1,545 million in Vancouver and $863,500 in Toronto. As of August 2021, the average single detached home is now $1,817 million in Vancouver and $1,241 million in Toronto. On the other hand, household income as reported to Statistics Canada has not significantly changed.

Rent in both cities continues to skew upwards -despite provincial measures limiting rent increases. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) states in its most recent rental market report that renters in both Vancouver and Toronto continue to have higher average rental rates. For a two-bedroom unit, the average monthly rent is now $1,622 in Toronto and $1,792 in Vancouver. Vacancy rates are exceeding one percent.

The state of the law

Three years ago, British Columbia had just implemented a Speculation Tax and Empty Homes Tax regime as part of its 30-point housing affordability plan. The province had also proposed the Land Owner Transparency Act (LOTA) and the Information Collection Regulation but neither were in force yet. LOTA came into force on November 30, 2020, along with the launch of a new information registry of individuals with indirect land interest (for example, through trusts, partnerships and...

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