Today's 8.5-to-one ratio is, to be sure, quite a bit worse than 20 years ago when it was 6.6 to one, and even worse still than the 5.9 to one figure in 2003. But ...
These historical ratios, though lower than today's, were still very high by any conventional measure, and they never once dipped to a low or even "normal" level during the entire duration of the last two decades. Yet Vancouverites still coped, and the population still grew by well over 500,000 in that 20-year period...
Half the reason for a high priceto-income ratio is not the cost of a home, but rather the lacklustre growth of personal incomes in Metro Vancouver over recent years to the point where we trail most major cities in Canada. If this turns around - and, once again, there are no guarantees - the affordability squeeze will ease.
Robert Helsley, dean of the Sauder School of Business, added an additional perspective when he spoke last week at a UBC-sponsored symposium on affordability. He suggested Vancouver's high home prices are "the price of admission" to this amenity-rich little corner of the world.
Similarly highly priced real estate is found in other places where people really want to live - Hong Kong, San Francisco, London and New York, to name a few.
"If you want affordable housing," Helsley said, "go to Detroit."
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