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Report: Rising prices trap Metro Vancouver families in starter homes

Development incentives, zoning changes and equity co-ops part of the solution

September 17, 2015, Vancouver, BC – Less than one per cent of Metro Vancouver’s housing stock is both suitable and available for the average young family seeking to move out of their starter homes, says a new report released today by Vancity credit union.

The report, Housetrapped: The growing inability of Metro Vancouver families to move out of starter homes, analyzes the suitability, availability and affordability of housing for a family of four.

The most suitable option for families is a three-bedroom attached property, such as a townhouse or row house, which provides access to a yard. However, in 2014 these properties were only 9 per cent of Metro Vancouver's housing stock inventory and had a turnover rate of 9.5 per cent, meaning only 0.86 per cent of all the housing stock in the region was both suitable and available for purchase.

The report found that affordability of this stock is also an issue. In August 2015, 17 per cent of Metro Vancouver sales were attached properties (primarily townhomes) with a benchmark price of $511,500. The 2014 median total annual household income for dual-income Millennials families in Metro Vancouver was $65,492, which means they could afford housing that’s priced around $384,000.

Most apartments and condominiums—the most affordable home ownership option—are not suitable for these families; in 2014, 91 per cent of apartment units had two bedrooms or less.

Millennials who already own a one-bedroom apartment or condo and want to upgrade to three bedrooms with access to a yard would need to take on an additional 95 per cent of debt. As a result, many will be trapped in starter homes that provide inadequate space and amenities.

The report offers recommendations to enable more families to move from their starter homes and encourages all levels of governments to look at innovative measures to address the lack of affordable family-friendly housing, including development incentives, inclusionary zoning and the shared-equity co-operative housing model.


"Buying a suitable house isn't affordable for most families. And the relatively more affordable options like three-bedroom townhomes and row houses are limited and rarely available for purchase, further compounding the problem." Andy Broderick, Vancity's vice-president of impact market development

Additional information

About Vancity

Vancity is a values-based financial co-operative serving the needs of its more than 509,000 member-owners and their communities through 59 branches in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria, Squamish and Alert Bay. As Canada’s largest community credit union, Vancity uses its $18.6 billion in assets to help improve the financial well-being of its members while at the same time helping to develop healthy communities that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.

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For more information:

Lorraine Wilson | Vancity
T: 778-837-0394


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