Still undecided on who you’re voting for this week in the British Columbia election? We’ve compiled some data points on the current Liberal administration’s performance, to help you sort out the issues related to housing. Everything from real estate prices to the wage growth, so you data loving voters can make an informed decision.
Real Estate Prices Soared
Everyone in BC knows real estate prices are up, but just how much are they up compared to the rest of the country? The price of a benchmark home in Vancouver, that is a typical home with luxury bias removed, is up 38.62% from 2013 to 2016. In Victoria, prices rose 32% during the same period. To contrast, a composite index of 11 major Canadian urban centers has prices up 25.10% from 2013 to 2016. Great news for homeowners, bad for aspiring homeowners.
Source: CREA, Better Dwelling Calculations.
Rental Inventory Declined
Rental inventory has rapidly decayed over this past term in British Columbia. Purpose built rentals in BC had available inventory of 2.5% in 2013, which dropped to 1.4% by 2016. This represents a 44% decline across the province. The province didn’t exactly have huge inventory to start with, but the rapid population increase is making it darn near impossible to find a rental building.
This number was even stronger in large population centers. Vancouver saw a 58% decline in rental inventory, dropping the rental vacancy rate to 0.7% over the period of 2013 – 2016. As bad as that is, Victoria saw rental vacancies drop 78% to just 0.5% during the same period. If you’re a landlord, awesome – you can now charge a premium on your home. However, those voters that are renting or about to rent, take note that rental inventory in the city is a major issue.
Source: CMHC, October Historical Rental Survey.
Social Housing Waitlist Grew
The social housing waitlist has continued to increase. By the end of 2016, Metro Vancouver had 10,469 people waiting for affordable housing, an 11% increase from 2013. This is slightly slower than the three years prior, where it increased by 26%. The good news is the wait list isn’t growing as quickly this term as last. The bad news? Metro Vancouver is minting a new homeless person every 30 hours.
Source: Metro Vancouver.
Household Savings Declined
Households are saving less than they were in 2013. According to the BC Ministry of Finance, the household savings rate was -0.2% in 2013, which means people had to withdraw 20 cents of savings for every $100 made. By 2015, that number experienced a 400% change…downward to -1%. This means two years later, households are spending a dollar from savings for every $100 made. To contrast, the rest of the country is saving 5% of their household disposable income. 2016 wasn’t available, but there’s little reason to believe that number improved last year. Looking at the chart, it actually looks like the average BC resident hasn’t been saving much since 1996.
Source: Ministry of Finance (BC).
Unemployment Remained Low
Employment is one of the strongest points from the Clark government. At the end of 2013, unemployment stood at a solid 6.7%. By the end of 2016, that number dropped to 5.8%. To contrast, Canada had a 7.2% rate of unemployment in 2013, and that dropped to 6.9% by the end of 2016. This is actually a pretty solid win in their books.
Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey.
Wages Grew, Just Not As Fast As The Rest of The Country
Wages in BC have grown, but not as fast as the rest of Canada. From the end of 2013 to the end of 2016, the average hourly wage in the province grew 4.39% to $25.43. That’s a little behind the national average that grew 6.43% to $25.97 over the same period. For a province that has placed a premium on housing you would think wages would at least be on par with the rest of Canada.
Breaking that number down, there were a few notable exceptions to the rule. Hourly wages in the sector of Information, culture, and recreation grew 23.7% in BC, Canada lagged at 6.57%. The average hourly wages in Utilities grew 18.35%, higher than the national average of 9.71%. Forestry, fishing, and mining average wages also grew 16.19% in BC, with the average across the country only rising 9.74%.
Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey.
These data points aren’t positive or negative by themselves, it largely depends upon your personal context. Rising home prices are great if you’re a homeowner, rough if you’re trying to get into the market. Your industry may have stagnating wages, but if you work in one of the industries that are booming, you’re probably pretty happy. Either way, good luck at the polls, and drop us a comment to let us know what you think the most important issue is this election.
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