Data Desk, Observations, Research Papers January 28, 2016

Is $2 million the New $1 million?



Source: NASA Earth Observatory image created by Robert Simmon and Jesse Allen


In a continuation of the previous post’s theme, this entry presents the $2 million line for Total Property Values for Single Family Homes (SFHs) in the City of Vancouver and how it has advanced in a single year (July 2014 to July 2015) from 23% of all properties in single family home districts in 2015 to 32% which is 39% increase in $2 million plus homes in one year. The $2 million boundary in 2016 represents the $1 million boundary for SFHs a few years ago which is between a blurred line between Cambie and Ontario Streets.




Data Desk, Media, Research Papers January 27, 2016

The End of the $1 million Line for Single Family Homes in the City of Vancouver


In 2016, the $1 million line for single family homes has effectively disappeared in the City of Vancouver. From the 2016 Assessment, 91% of all single family properties in the city have total assessment over $1 million compared to 65% in 2015.


Total Assessment refers to the total value of land and “improvement” which is typically the building(s) on the land. Given the data latency between assessment day as of July 1, 2015 to data release to current market conditions, there is a likelihood that this percentage has increased. This jump in the number of homes assessed at over $1 million is not unexpected given advance media comments on the 2016 assessment results by BC Assessment.

Over the last 5 years, BTAworks has charted and mapped the total value changes in single family (SF) properties of over and under $1 million dollars in the City of Vancouver at a citywide level. More recently, we’ve obtained the capacity to look at values on a regional wide level whose analysis is forthcoming. A reminder to readers why $1 million threshold was chosen is both the cultural significance and touchstone of $1 million in Canadian culture as significated here and also the price threshold that some realtors such as Sotheby’s International define as “luxury real estate”.

This particular analysis is not directly comparable to previous analysis done in this blog. The first is the changing of map colours where red is now the colour for homes assessed at over $1 million and blue is the colour for homes under $1 million for the goal of increased legibility. One large factor in this analysis and other forthcoming analysis from BTAworks on Single Family Housing in the City of Vancouver is the refinement of the base number of properties in the study. Using data from the City of Vancouver, BC Assessment, and the Integrated Cadastral Information Society, this analysis was able to refine its calculations to a level of detail that was previously unavailable in previous studies and is focused on actual single family homes and excluded non-single family properties such as condos/stratas, rights of ways, and public facilities that are located in with Single Family Home districts in the City of Vancouver. These datasets were in part furnished through an academic research partnership with the University of British Columbia. By cross checking these elements parcel by parcel, this analysis was able to obtain a level of data refinement for using single family homes that were previously unavailable. Please note that portions of neighborhoods like Shaughnessy, Point Grey, and Kitsilano were excluded in the study as they were not RS zoned, but RM (Multiple Family) zoned or occupy a special historic zoning in the case of parts of Shaughnessy. In coming analyses and maps, the history of the $1 million line will be charted through the recent past. However, for SF parcel where a history could not be established, the parcel was removed from this analysis.

There are a number of demand and supply reasons for the progression of the $1 million line in Vancouver. Some supply side reasons include the decades-long redefinition and allowance of single family homes by the City from one unit to two and three units and the constrained stock of single family homes in the City of Vancouver and lack of adequate and affordable housing types for families with children in the general. It is important to note that many properties in the west/southwest corner of the city have tended to be larger than other single family parcels in other parts of the City. On the demand side, the low cost of borrowing over the last decade, the effect of global capital entering the residential market of the City of Vancouver and Metro Vancouver, a growing City population, speculative purchase behavior, a cultural and financial predisposition/obsession to home ownership versus renting and generational wealth transfer have all shaped the values of residential property. It is a combination and compounding alignment of these factors and others that have likely produced the value assessment escalation patterns in the City of Vancouver. Beyond the truths behind the growth of Single Family Home values in the City of Vancouver, the economic, social, and cultural consequences in this environment of housing unaffordability has implications for the years and decades to come.

In a City where 51% of its residents are renters, there is fair question to ask if this $1 million mark even is relevant in terms of housing and planning policy. It matters as 57% of the City’s land mass is zoned for “one family dwellings” followed by 7% of the land mass zoned for “two family dwellings”. In sum, 64% of the total land mass of the City of Vancouver is made up of single family homes. Whether for ownership or rental, these land prices will enviably affect what can be built and who can be housed in these areas. Moreover, these are neighborhoods that have a significant pre-existing infrastructure for families with children and were planned and developed specifically with children and families in mind.

As the City attempts to densify, this is an economic and cultural reality that planners, designers, architects, and policy makers must engage thoughtfully and with rigor. Indeed, like many other cities, the political and planning culture of the City needs to evolve from the politics of development to a politics of redevelopment which, some writers emphasize, is only successful in an environment and culture of compromise and coalitions. The conversations for the local, provincial, and federal levels will not only be what can be built in the City of Vancouver, but also need to look at who can or ought to be housed in the City of Vancouver.

Now what?

This map publication occurs just as the Museum of Vancouver is hosting “Your Future Home: Creating the New Vancouver”. Bing Thom Architects and the Simon Fraser University’s City Program are organizations sponsoring the exhibition’s data curation which features nearly two dozen submissions on the themes of housing affordability, residential density, public space, and transportation from the city’s architectural, design, and planning communities. Over the next few months, the public programming will look at these topics in depth and the erasure of the City of Vancouver’s $1 million line for Single Family Homes will likely be one of the specters haunting the debate and discourse.

Here’s the $2 million line for a reference and perhaps next frontier.


Plus the 2016 Total Assessment Value map in $1 million increments.



As always, the data used in this analysis was available at the City of Vancouver’s Open Data Catalogue. The Catalogue should be lauded by everyone in the data community in the City for providing incredibly rich and robust tabular and spatial datasets from which analysts, scholars, and advocates can draw upon. Throughout its short history, the Catalogue has been tremendously useful in facilitating the availability of assessment data and spatial parcel data for this analysis.

Through the usage of Geographic Information Science and statistical software, the accompanying visualizations were created, but not with a significant amount of data munging. It is worth stating again that previous studies are not directly comparable to this current $1 million line study. The final analytical data used here removed left and right assessment value outliers as well as non-single family parcels such as condos, right of ways, and industrial lands that were inadvertently captured in the initial GIS data capture.

Research Papers January 20, 2016

Rising Tides and City Building: The BTAworks Climate Change Gauge @ The Museum of Vancouver

As part of the Museum of Vancouver and Urbanarium’s Your Next Vancouver: Creating the Next Vancouver  exhibition, the BTAworks team presents the Climate Change Gauge. Water has always shaped both the identity and destiny of Vancouver as the city lives, works, plays, and trades on an ever changing shoreline. In an era of climate change, sea level rise will be one of the transformative forces governing the future of the city and its region. This gauge is one way of visualizing the realities and consequences of climate change for future and all generations of city thinkers, builders, and shapers. Each mark presents a climate scenario for a city that will have to mitigate, adapt, protect, and, perhaps, retreat.

The text panel for the Gauge:



The pole was created by BTAworks Build team members: Michael Heeney, Eileen Keenan, Marius Hexan, Philppe Saurel, and Maryia Sakharevich with John Readshaw (SNC Lavalin).


(from left to right) Philppe, Maryia, Marius, Eileen, and John on Opening Night at the MoV…Michael Heeney missing

The following are images of the team and MoV staff raising the pole. No architects, architectural students, architectural interns, museum staff, and mesooceanic engineers were harmed in the making of the Gauge.


Data Desk January 20, 2016

BTAworks Real Estate Research in the Wall Street Journal

Some of the recent BTAworks research on Vancouver’s real estate was featured in the Wall Street Journal.  Click here for the article .

Data Desk, Media, Observations, Research Papers November 2, 2015

Ownership Patterns of Single Family Home Sales on Selected West Side Neighborhoods in the City of Vancouver: A Case Study

Microsoft PowerPoint - TitleAnalysis_EbyBriefing2

Please click the above image for the study’s slidedeck via Slideshare

This analysis looks at the all the sales to occur within three west side neighborhoods in the City of Vancouver over a 6 month period and the ownership and mortgage patterns within these titles. Specifically, it looks at the title records of 172 Westside Single Family Homes Sale Transactions as listed by the Multiple Listing Service in the West Point Grey, Dunbar, and University Endowment Land neighborhoods (West of Alma Street) from September 2014 to February 2015. Collectively, worth over $520 million, these properties were some of the most expensive single family home properties in the City of Vancouver and the metropolitan region. It looks at mortgage status, title holder patterns, and self declared occupation of title holders to see what kind of patterns emerge against historic held ideas of patterns of ownership in the area — these neighborhoods have historically been occupied by Vancouver’s managerial and professional classes.

The purpose of this study is not to necessarily solely focus on a single ethnic group, but in understanding how residential real estate might be consumed in the City of Vancouver with a focus on the enabling financial practices and structures in Canada. With 82 percent of residential properties in the study holding a mortgage, the image of pure “cash sales” seems highly problematic. Instead of falling for a hysteria of a mindless horde consuming residential real estate in Vancouver, this study starts to map the logic, apparatus, and actors of demand and globalization for housing in the City. It’s only from a point of considered metrics and political resolve that the creation and implementation of effective public policy can be done in an era of global housing markets, capital flows, and unaffordable housing.

Through the analysis of the mortgages, there are very distinct channels of capital and credit within the data set. While early scholars like Katharyn Mitchell and David Ley have surmised ideas of a “circuits of transpacific capital” within the Vancouver housing market, the findings of this study suggest that there is considerable empirical credence to their ideas. It is critical to note that more study in terms of expanding the geographic and time scale as well as increasing the numbers of properties to be examined needs to be done before one can generalize this study’s results to a larger population.  This document is a case study and not a total population or sample study of all  ownership patterns in Vancouver residential real estate.

A further point of curiosity was to look at the possible indicators of ethnic patterns within the sales data set and the possibility of identifying the role of global capital particular from migrants from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan and global Chinese diaspora via a full name analysis in recent purchases. This study is a case study of this population and may not necessarily reflect patterns of demand and consumption that may be found in nor extended to other housing types and parts of the City or region.

Our full name analysis methodology follows accepted practices in the fields of epidemiology, demography, and political science. This study wanted to see if any distinct patterns occurring when non-Anglicized Chinese names are isolated from the rest of the data set. It is a primary assumption of this study that a non-Anglicized Chinese names may be an indication that an owner may be an recent immigrant to Canada and that an Anglicized Chinese name is an indication of a long time immigrant or non-immigrant and/or multigenerational Canadian of sole or mixed ethnic Chinese ancestry. As a course of experimentation, there may be names missed for new immigrants who have Anglicized Chinese names and long time immigrants or multi-generational Canadian with non-Anglicized Chinese name to may be in the wrong catagory, but, with external reviews, this risk is minimal.

Within this data set, the name patterns were exceptionally and surprisingly distinct as they lacked ambiguous names like “Scott Low” which could be a Chinese or Scottish name or “John Li” which could be Chinese, Vietnamese, or Korean name. These names did not exist within this data set. Non-Anglicized Chinese names in the study were either in a three or two name sequences that our literature survey suggested were Chinese with no ambiguous names. Without direct measures of immigration or citizenship status and property ownership that are publicly available in Canada, this is an indirect measure of how globalization, non-localized wealth, and immigration, particularly from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan or Chinese global diaspora are entering one portion of the real estate market in Vancouver.

At this point, it is important to note the sizable literature around income and economic challenges for new and old immigrant Chinese Canadians as well as locally born and other visible minorities in Canada. With works from Shibao Guo and Don DeVoretz and Krishna Pendekur and Ravi Pendakur, household incomes from local labour markets seem highly unlikely to produce the patterns on a scale that can be explained in the data set. Instead, the results suggest how the combination of global wealth and low-interest rate credit may entering the residential real estate market in a regional environment of near stagnant local incomes.

David Eby, the Member of the Legislative Assembly for Vancouver-Point Grey deserves a special thanks for acquiring the data used in this study. Without his help as an MLA to acquire the data, this study would not be possible and highlight the difficulty of attaining accurate, transparent, and accessible data to understand the social and economic dynamics within our communities. Furthermore, with the loss of the mandatory long-form census as well as the difficulty and cost in attaining ownership data from the Province, it is difficult to conduct data oriented research that is insightful and impactful with how our communities are changing and effective public policies needed to change with them. There are some exceptions such as the release of BC Assessment data to accredited academic researchers, in a fast moving world of data analysis culture and evidence based decision making, Canada and British Columbia is moving agonizingly slow.

Finally, the contributions of various external academic and professional reviewers must be recognized. This study would not have been possible without their extremely helpful reviews and critiques on methodology and results. Any errors and omissions are strictly my own, but the insight, experience, and wisdom of the study’s external reviewers were greatly appreciated.

Any opinions expressed in this study are strictly those of the writer and not necessarily those of Bing Thom Architects.


Further Reading

Badarinza, C., & Ramadorai, T. (2015, April 24). Home Away From Home? Foreign Demand and London House Prices. Retrieved 23 2015, August, from

Cityspaces Consulting. (2009). Vancouver Condominium Rental Study. Retrieved August 18, 2014, from

Ley, D. (2011). Millionaire Migrants Trans-Pacific Life Lines. London: Wiley-Blackwell.

Ley, D., & Titchener, J. (2001). Immigration, Globalisation, and House Prices in Canada’s Gateway Cities. Housing Studies , 199-223.

Li, W. & Dymski, G. “Financial Globalization and Cross-Border Co-Movements of Money and Population: Foreign Bank Offices in Los Angeles.” Environment & Planning A 36(2): 213-240

Li, W., Lo, L., & Oberle, A. (2014). The embeddedness of bank branch networks in immigrant gateways. The Canadian Geographer, 48-62.

Li, W., Oberle, A., & Dymski, G. (2007, April). Metropolis British Columbia: Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Diversity. Retrieved from Global Banking and Finance Services to Immigrants in Canada and the United States:

Mitchell, K. (2004). Crossing the Neoliberal Line: Pacific Rim Migration and the Metropolis. Philadelphia : Temple University.

Moos, M., & Skaburskis, A. (2010). The Globalization of Urban Housing Markets: Immigration and Changing Housing Demand in Vancouver. Urban Geography , 724-749.

Surowiecki, J. (2014, May 26). Real Estate Goes Global. New Yorker .

Walks, A., & Clifford, B. (2015). The political economy of mortgage securitization and the neoliberalization of housing policy in Canada. Environment and Planning A , 1-19.

12.Yan, A. (2013, March 21). Foreign Investment in Vancouver’s Real Estate Market. Retrieved August 2015, 23, from BTAworks Foreign Investment in Vancouver Real Estate Slide Presentation at SFU Woodwards:

13.Yan, A. (2009). Ownership, Occupancy, and Rentals: An Indicative Sample Study of Condominiums in Downtown Vancouver. Vancouver: BTAworks.

14.Yu, H. (2009). Global migrants and the New Pacific Canada. International Journal , 1011-1026.


Public Programming October 30, 2015

BTAworks Metro Vancouver Trick or Treater Count 2015 | #TreatCount2015

Treatcount 2015

In partnership with the Vancouver Sun, BTA’s 5rd annual online trick-or treat count is on again tonight. Tell us the nearest intersection to where you live, how many trick-or-treaters you received and what type of candy you gave out.

This year, we are teaming up with the Vancouver Sun and its fledgling data journalist, Tara Carman (@tarajcarman) to present #TreatCount2015 and submit your counts through three ways:

1) The Vancouver Sun website: You can directly submit your count on this Vancouver Sun website.

2) Email: Counters can email us at Email to Treatcount with their closest street intersection, number of trick or treaters, and candy type. For example, if you live near the corner of Main and 37th Ave with 40 Trick or Treaters and handing out lollipops,  you can email the message: “Main and 37th Ave, 40, lollipops”


3) Tweet Us: Counters can tweet us with the hashtag #treatcount2015.  With the above example, a Twitter submission would be: “Main and 37th Ave, 40, lollipops, #treatcount2015″

For those interested in observing the social media role out of #treatcount2015, you can either follow the hashtag or access the Project’s Storify page.

The BTAworks data gremlins will process emails and tweets during first week of November and publish their results on this blog and a story in the Vancouver Sun. We’ll be collecting entries up until 4pm on November 2nd. Have a Happy and Safe Halloween!


A Look Back October 29, 2015

The Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts: A View from 1969 Vancouver


As the City of Vancouver passed a motion for the removal of the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts on October 27, 2015, this pamphlet shows how they once considered a sign and measure of civic progress. In the 45 years that have passed since the opening of the Viaducts in 1970, the Viaducts were a symbol of what that generation of Vancouverites wanted which seems to be at odds with what the current and future generation of Vancouver needs the City to become. Nevertheless, while the transportation vision from 1969 may have been problematic from the perspective of 2015, one sees the spirit of optimism and advancement between the lines of this document between the development of the Viaduct, the Museum Planetarium complex, various infrastructure improvements and downtown development.

Pacific Centre with a new Eatons store, the Toronto-Dominion Bank Headquarters, underground retail mall, and project would start construction in 1970. With the viaduct were open, the City would then pursue the state of Project 200, a 15 year, $300 million ($1.9 billion) development of Project 200 Office Tower, Canada Square, and a second office tower that “may be entirely used by the Federal Government”.  Also announced in this report: the $25,000,000 ($160 million) first stage of a 50 plus storey Provincial Government offices tower.  After all this new downtown development and infrastructure expansion, “we will shortly have a downtown of which all the citizens of Vancouver can be very proud”.


Attached to this progress report is also a budget for the City of Vancouver.  In 1968, the City of Vancouver spend $101 million ($628 million in 2015 dollars) for operating and maintaining the City. By 2015, the annual City of Vancouver budget would be $1.2 billion in expenditures.

Data Desk, Media, Observations, Research Papers October 14, 2015

A Window into the Floors and Ceilings of Riding Population Densities in Canadian Federal Elections


by Michael Heeney and Andrew Yan

A special thanks to Frances Bula for her article on the study in the Globe and Mail.

With the looming federal elections on October 19, 2015 , BTAworks wanted to look at the population densities of ridings and their voting patterns. With data from Elections Canada and Statistics Canada, we examined the population densities of every riding in Canada and the party that they voted for and see if there might be any patterns between the riding density and party preference. While we focused on the 2011 elections, we also studied the patterns of the 2006 and 2008 elections. Given the vastness and geographic diversity of Canada, these riding population densities ranged from the riding of Nunavut at 0.01 people per hectacre at its lowest to 112 people per hectacre in the riding of Papineau in Montreal at its densest. To visualize what a hectacre is, it is about the size of the field within a 400 metre running track. It’s important to note that as a result of the 2012 federal electoral redistribution, the number of electoral districts was increased to 338 from 308 for these previous elections, with additional seats based on population assigned to Alberta (6), British Columbia (6), Ontario (15), and Quebec (3). Nevertheless, the question would be how riding population density might be an indicator or even motivator of party choice.

The above chart is what happens when you take every seat won by party organized by riding population density from the 2006, 2008, and 2011 federal elections. The Conservative seats were all from ridings of less than 50 people per hectacre, the Liberals were between 0.0001 to 112 people per hectacre, the New Democrat Party were between 0.0001 to 101 people per hectacre, the Bloc seats were between 0.003 to 113 people per hectacre, the Greens at 2.3 people per hectacre, and Independents held ridings that were between 0.09 to 0.13 people per hectacre. The slide below illustrates the average and the median population density per hectacre by party. Not surprisingly, there are very different patterns depending on what party one is examining over three elections.


As perhaps, a possible predictor of who might or might not win and where, here is the party riding by riding population densities for 2011. It is perhaps the subject of further, much deeper study to look at the specific reasons why these patterns occur.


Some final notes:

A special thanks to Mark Heeney, the BTAworks Summer Intern extraordinaire for helping processing the elections and demographic data. And finally regardless of what riding and riding population density, please remember to vote on October 19, 2015 and click here for more information.


A Look Back, Data Desk, Media, Research Papers October 6, 2015

A “Tree Rings” View of Residential Properties by Year Built in Metro Vancouver


A special thanks to the ever erudite John Mackie for his article on the chart in the Vancouver Sun.

In the ongoing exploration of property data in Metro Vancouver from BC Assessment, BTAworks looked at the age of residential properties and charted their type and year built.  With 2015 BC Assessment roll data provided by an academic license via the University of British Columbia’s School of Community and Regional Planning, the chart provides a kind of dendrochronology of all residential properties in Metropolitan Vancouver. The chart captures the time frame of the 1900 to 2014 and is a point-in-time capture of all the residential properties in Metro Vancouver. The ebbs and flow of economics, real estate development and history as well as some building booms and busts throughout the 20th century are be observed.  The First and Second World War as well as the Great Depression have left a mark on Vancouver’s built form.  This chart does not capture every building that was ever built in Metro Vancouver, but the surviving stock of residential properties in the region as of 2014.  In an ever changing region, residential properties have been demolished, replaced, and newly built throughout the 120 year time line. It is not an absolute listing of every residential building ever built, but a view into our existing residential property stock.


It can be argued that Metro Vancouver area is a product of the late 20th century as 80 percent of its residential properties were built after 1971. While the City of Vancouver and the City of New Westminster do have a stock of residential buildings that date back to the late 19th and early 20th Century, the overwhelming mass of residential buildings in the region are from the late 20th century. The early 1980s and the late 1990s seems to be corrective slowdown moments to make the end of large periods of residential property construction.  The impact of pubic policy on residential property can be observed acutely as condominiums were only created with the passing of the Strata Act of 1972 and of which took several years before they were constructed in mass.  For a comprehensive history of the Strata Act and its impact on the housing markets in the City of Vancouver, please click here. Interestingly, peak single family housing construction seems to have occurred in 1989 with 10,560 units and the strata residential (condos) at 17,259 in 2008.

There are some technical notes about the data and use of this chart:

  • This chart covers residential properties in Vancouver and NOT buildings. Strata residential also known as condos are registered as individual units that are counted in this chart, but not necessarily individual buildings.  For example, 250 units built in 1996 that can be a single building, but registered as separate 250 properties in 1996.
  • While data is from the 2015 BC Assessment Rolls, it ends at the year 2014 as Assessments are made every July to July and the Year published for each assessment is made as of July of the previous year.  For example, the 2015 Assessment is actually done in July 2014.
  • The base variable used for these charts are the “Year Built” variable within the Assessment Rolls. If a property had major renovations, but original building still stands, then the year built variable remains, but the year of the major renovations are noted as its “effective year”.
  • The core BC Assessment database has been edited for erroneous entries and matches and properties with values of less than $100,000 were excluded from the chart. Moreover, we suspect that the year built of many residential properties built prior to 1920s may not have been comprehensively documented in the current database.
  • Finally, one should not be directly comparing the data in this chart to data from Statistics Canada or the Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation as each agency follows a different methodology towards tabulating and processing counts of housing.



Data Desk, Media, Research Papers September 15, 2015

The 2015 $1 million Line for Single Family Residential Properties in Metro Vancouver




Building upon the previous BTAworks $1 million line maps for the City of Vancouver, this map series expands the map area to cover the $1 million line for single family homes in Metro Vancouver for the 2014 and 2015 BC Assessments. With statistics and spatial data sets attained from BC Assessment, the Integrated Cadastral Information Society, and Metro Vancouver, the data was attained on an academic license through the University of British Columbia’s School of Community and Regional Planning where Andy Yan is also an adjunct professor. A special thanks to Tsur Somerville and his team for assembling the BC Assessment datasets!

Please note that, through data cleaning and editing on an expanded regional Geographic Information Systems spatial data and tabular Assessment dataset, calculations within these maps will slightly differ from previous BTAworks analyses on the City of Vancouver. Instead of using categories for Single Family Residences as defined by the City of Vancouver’s RS zoning, this map series uses BC Assessment’s “Actual Use Category Name” category of “S/F Res” which in addition to “Single Family Dwellings” which does include single unit owned “Duplexes”. Hence with a greater population as a denominator, assessment statistics in this analysis for the City of Vancouver will be generally smaller than previous entries.

The total assessment value which is the aggregate of land and structure values from the 2015 BC Assessment is used to categorize S/F Res properties as either above or under $1 million. While known as the 2015 Assessment, these values reflect a valuation made in July 2014. Note that Total Assessment Values for S/F Res properties worth a total of less than $100,000 were excluded in the map and value calculations. Certain calculations will differ between graphs due to rounding.

A special extension of this map series is the inclusion of estimated lifetime transportation costs to the total assessment values. Derived from the recently published (and magnificent) Metro Vancouver Housing and Transportation Cost Burden Study, these maps illustrate how housing values shift once transportation costs are accounted for. In an “H” (Housing) + “T” (Transportation) approach, it looks of connects housing affordability with transportation costs. Transportation costs are often excluded from housing costs of which provides a skewed impression on the actual costs of household maintenance. What initially seems like affordable single family residential housing away from the urban core and in a car dependent suburban location can be deceptive as it excludes the total costs of transportation of living in such communities.

The average annual 2011 transportation costs faced by working households who are owners with mortgages by municipalities was multiplied by 25 and 30 to reflect the possible lifetime costs of transportation for households in these municipalities and added to the total values of each properties in each municipality. Admittedly, this is a blunt means of transportation cost calculations, but, with further refinement, it is expected to better reflect the real total costs of living away from the town centers of the region and, in most cases, being car dependent. Future refinements such as using Net Present Value for lifetime transportation costs will likely further add more pressures of transportation costs onto housing values.  Note that the transportation data for Anmore, Belcarra, Lions Bay, Bowen Island, and Tsawwassen First Nation were not shown due to data reliability considerations.





Some key observations are:

  • 28 percent (111,659) of all Single Family Residences in Metro Vancouver had a total assessment of more than $1,000,000 in 2014
  • With the composition of Single Family Residences for each municipality, 100 percent of the Single Family Residences in the University Endowment Lands are valued at over $1 million followed the District of West Vancouver (95 percent), the City of Vancouver (62%), the Village of Belcarra (60%), the Village of Anmore (60%), and District of North Vancouver (50%).
  • From 2014 to 2015, the number of $1 million Single Family Residences in Metro Vancouver increased by 23 percent from 91,000 properties in 2014 to 111,659 properties in 2015.
  • The five largest percentage increases in the number of $1 million and above homes were found in the District of Maple Ridge (96% – 54 in 2014 to 106 in 2015), City of Port Moody (81% – 320 to 578), City of Port Coquitlam (79% – 43 to 73), the City of New Westminster (64% – 308 to 504), and the City of North Vancouver (52% – 1,221 to 1,858) Note that the City of Langley at 150% had the highest percentage growth in $1 million properties, but the growth comes from a small base of 2 in 2014 to 5 in 2015.
  • When transportation costs are accounted for over a 25 and 30 year basis, the number of single family properties worth over $1 million for various municipalities suddenly change.
  • For municipalities in the Township of Langley, the number of $1 million dollar homes increase 25 times from 3 percent to 75 percent, City of Port Coquitlam increases from 1 percent to 35 percent, and now more than a third to over a half of single family homes are now valued over $1 million.
  • When the H+T formula is applied to the cities of Vancouver, Richmond, and North Vancouver, the $1 million nearly disappears as all single family residences are worth over $1 million for the entire municipality.