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Hot, Hazy, Out of Control: Can We Cool Vancouver's Sizzling Housing Market?


In search of Vancouver's $300,000 housing question. Photo by glasseyejack in Your BC: The Tyee's Photo Pool.

Vancouverites have always felt their city is special. Lately, that’s not been such a good thing. With prices for the average single-family home soaring past the million dollar mark and resident household incomes falling ever further behind, Vancouver has the dubious distinction of being the least affordable city in Canada -- and by some accounts the second least affordable in the entire world.

Housing prices in an open market like Vancouver’s are set by how much buyers are willing to pay. But something strange seems to be happening in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland. As we found in the opening episode of this new Tyee Solutions Society investigative case study series, purchasing power that can’t be explained by local incomes is adding more than $300,000 to the median home sale price in the city, compared to those most like it elsewhere in North America.

The series also looks at Vancouver’s options: what it needs to know to uncover the impact of inflowing investment, what it can do to make sure the city always has a place for those who call it home, and what it can teach other Canadian cities.

This series is produced by Tyee Solutions Society. It was made possible through the support of the Real Estate Foundation of B.C., the Catherine Donnelly Foundation, Vancity Credit Union, the Aboriginal Housing Management Association, the Vancouver Foundation, and in partnership with Columbia Institute. TSS funders neither influence nor endorse the particular content of TSS reporting. Other publications wishing to publish this story or other TSS produced articles, please visit for contacts and information.

In This Series



What 'Invisible' Money Adds to Vancouver Home Prices

Mysterious purchasing power has created a $300,000 premium. First in a series.

By Katie Hyslop, 13 Jul 2015


Vancouver data rally

What Vancouverites Don't Know Is Hurting Our Housing Hopes

We know the data we need. Time to demand it, critics say. Second in a series.

By David P. Ball, 16 Jul 2015



How to Cool Vancouver's Home Price Fever

Experts find much to be done, with inspiration from abroad and at home. Third in a series.

By David P. Ball and Katie Hyslop, 20 Jul 2015



Tiny Homes: Inexpensive and Cute, but Livable?

Some swear by these 100 square-foot wonders. But Vancouver isn't convinced. Fourth in a series.

By Katie Hyslop, 22 Jul 2015



Vancouver Mayor: City Is 'At a Breaking Point'

Urgent action needed to cool housing market, but Gregor Robertson says he needs help. Last in a series.

By David P. Ball, 27 Jul 2015