Last week, Lisa Prevost of The New York Times took a look at purchasing a four-bedroom house on the “bluffs” of Vancouver; in reality, the house is 32 kilometres north of Vancouver in Lions Bay. The price is CAD $2.7 million, in our local market which has increased by 40 per cent in the last decade.

The property is less than a mile from the Lions Bay Marina and Lions Bay Beach Park, “the most idyllic little beach. With a population of roughly 1,350, the village has just a few shops for necessities, he said; more shopping and dining can be found about 15 minutes south, in West Vancouver.

Phil Moore, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, calls Vancouver “the California of Canada”, pointing out that 40,000 people coming into the metropolitan area annually, presumably undeterred by the prices.

The Times article states that the benchmark sale price for a detached house is $1.6 million in Vancouver, and that in the more exclusive West Vancouver, “that buys you nothing. That’s an area that’s $3 million and above.”

The article goes on to describe the intended market interventions of the foreign buyers and empty homes taxes as disincentives that have “slowed sales especially of high-end properties.” And that demand has pushed buyers “into lower pricing ranges, driving up demand or condos,” with condo prices starting at $900 a square foot, and reaching upwards of $2,500 a square foot.

So it’s no surprise when Craig Wright, a senior executive from Royal Bank, says that more supply is needed. Wright asserts that, before the Foreign Buyers Tax, 10 per cent of real estate buyers from outside Canada were Mainland Chinese, “while Whistler resort attracts many American and Japanese buyers”.

In summation, with the Canadian dollar worth US $0.76, and property taxes at a reasonable USD $3,500 annually, the Times article says that a significant down payment might be needed to qualify for a Canadian mortgage. That is assuming that the house is bought at the asking price.

You can take a look at the real estate listings for Lions Bay here.

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