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Vulnerabilities, affordability addressed in Vancouver’s housing market

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Evan Siddall, CEO of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, speaks to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade at the Westin Bayshore hotel on Nov. 30, 2016. Photo: Kristyn Anthony

Reported by Kristyn Anthony

Supply and demand was the focal point of a keynote speech addressed to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade Wednesday morning regarding housing in Vancouver.

President and CEO of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) Evan Siddall spoke to a packed room at the Westin Bayshore hotel. Addressing vulnerabilities, data gaps and affordability were some of the themes of Siddall’s speech, a commentary on the fluctuating national housing market.

“Metro Vancouver has one of the highest rates of core housing need among all of Canada’s metropolitan areas, at about 18 per cent,” Siddall said in his address, comparing that to the national average of 12.3 per cent.

Housing resale market supply lowest in 10 years

Housing market supply in the resale market in Metro Vancouver is nearing the lowest its been in 10 years Siddall said, noting urban planning is one of the contributing factors.

In a city like Vancouver, where one in three people are renters, core housing need — the integration of standards for dwelling adequacy, suitability and affordability — is even more imperative.

Shayne Ramsay, CEO of BC Housing commended Siddall’s remarks on working cohesively.

“There are a lot of housing leaders and municipalities in the audience and to hear how all of those factors interrelate [can help people understand], that it’s just not one thing that we need to focus on,” Ramsay said. “Governments need to co-operate but we also need to work on the supply issue.”

Foreign investment not to blame for affordable housing

In Vancouver, Siddall emphasized foreign investment, though challenging to measure, is not entirely to blame for a lack of available and affordable housing.

CMHC analysis shows that other factors correlate better to explain house price increases, he added.

“If supply doesn’t respond to increased demand, all of that demand goes into prices,” Siddall said. “We’ve got a choice – we either build more homes or you have higher prices.”

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