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What do you think is the right price to pay for a home in Vancouver?

May 30th, 2011 · 60 Comments

Lots of howling about the story I wrote on Bob Rennie’s recent analysis, saying that prices paid for the top homes were skewing people’s perception of average housing affordability.

Many people assumed he was spouting that off the top of his head, for nefarious reasons of his own and questioned my journalistic credibility for quoting him. It was Urban Futures that did the research for that, I’m told, and there are others looking at those numbers are coming to similar conclusions. (Also, for those who apparently didn’t notice, I also quoted Dale McClanaghan, a guy who is routinely commissioned by municipalities to take a close statistical look at their housing affordability problems, who agreed with the Rennie conclusions.)

I should point out, though, that the research appears to be focused on the unusual market of just the last year, where prices went up dramatically in Richmond and west-side Vancouver but stayed flat or even went down in other parts of the region. However, the average makes it look as though housing prices everywhere are shooting up in the past year.

Okay, all that aside, there was much vociferous response to that post, but I didn’t get a clear answer to one thing I was really wondering about: What would be a fair price to pay for a house/duplex/condo in west-side Vancouver, east-side Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, Coquitlam, etc.

As I said in the previous post, sometimes I feel as though we delusionally imagine we can live in Vancouver but have Saskatoon housing prices. I know that I personally feel that the right price to pay for a nice house on the east side (single-family, standard lot) should be, oh, $350,000 at the most. For the west side, hmm, maybe $650,000. (For the record, I also feel that I should be able to get a really great pair of shoes for no more than $50, have a nice meal out at a top-notch restaurant for $90, and fly to Europe for $600 round trip.)

Clearly, every day is a disappointment to me since 1984 is long gone. But what are prices that people think would be appropriate for a city of 2.3 million and growing, where it doesn’t snow in the winter?

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