Large swaths of Metro Vancouver have single-family detached houses assessed at $1-million or higher as the real estate boom in the city spreads to the suburbs.
For the sprawling region as a whole, 28 per cent of detached properties had assessed values of at least $1-million on July 1, 2014, up from 23 per cent on July 1, 2013, researcher Andrew Yan says.
Mr. Yan's study provides a snapshot of a flurry of houses in the suburbs joining the million-dollar club. Suburbs such as West Vancouver, White Rock, Richmond, Burnaby and North Vancouver (both the city and district) are already well known for having higher-end properties, but areas such as Port Moody and New Westminster are also thriving.
In the City of Vancouver, 62 per cent of detached properties showed assessed values of at least $1-million last year, up from 50 per cent in 2013, the study says.
The region's housing market has been on a tear over the past year. On Vancouver's east side, for instance, the benchmark price of a typical detached house that sold in August surged 21 per cent from the same month in 2014.
Industry observers say that based on trends in the housing sector, the proportion of detached houses worth at least $1-million is expected to easily exceed 70 per cent in the City of Vancouver in 2015 and head toward 33 per cent in Metro Vancouver, though those statistics won't be available until next year.
Low interest rates, a healthy regional economy, limited listings of detached houses and an influx of newcomers from other provinces and abroad have fuelled housing demand. Foreign buyers, notably from China, have been targeting high-end properties in the City of Vancouver, but in the suburbs, it typically costs less than $500,000 for a townhouse and less than $400,000 for a condo, experts say.
Based on data from BC Assessment, there were 111,659 detached properties in Metro Vancouver assessed at $1-million or higher last year, up 23 per cent from 2013. The provincial Crown corporation estimates property values on behalf of B.C. municipalities, which in turn use the information to determine tax rolls.
On the University Endowment Lands near the University of British Columbia, all of the detached properties were valued at $1-million or more in 2014, while the District of West Vancouver rang in at 95 per cent. Suburbs with a sizable portion of homes worth at least $1-million include the District of North Vancouver (50 per cent), Burnaby (38 per cent), Richmond (37 per cent), the City of North Vancouver (33 per cent) and White Rock (30 per cent).
Port Moody and New Westminster saw the number of detached homes assessed at $1-million or more jump last year, though both suburbs still have a relatively small percentage of such houses within those cities at 12 per cent and 7 per cent, respectively.
By contrast, the City of Langley remains one of the most affordable suburbs, with only five houses cracking the million-dollar mark last year.
Mr. Yan is an urban planner with Bing Thom Architects and adjunct professor with UBC's School of Community and Regional Planning. Houses in the suburbs are generally much less expensive than those in the City of Vancouver, but Mr. Yan cautions that when factoring in transportation costs, buying a place far from the city's downtown core comes with a price.
"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," he said in his report.
When calculating the present value of operating a vehicle over the next 25 to 30 years, many properties that seem like bargains in the suburbs end up effectively becoming million-dollar outlays, Mr. Yan said.
The average price of detached properties sold in the City of Vancouver in May reached $2.23-million while the average for Greater Vancouver in August hit $1.47-million.