What if recent apartment buildings in Vancouver were 20% taller?

We estimate that planning decisions preventing apartment buildings built in the past 5 years in Metro Vancouver from being on average 20% taller are resulting in an annual redistribution of income from renters to existing landlords on the order of half a billion dollars across the region via higher rents.

Jens von Bergmann Nathan Lauster

10 minute read

(Joint with Nathan Lauster and cross-posted at HomeFreeSociology) Earlier this year a report from the NSW Productivity Commission in New South Wales, Australia, included a useful estimate to illustrate the harm that’s being done by height restrictions in Sydney. We thought it might be helpful to replicate the analysis for the Vancouver context. Taking ideas from the report we set up a simple counter-factual question: What would rents be if every apartment building built in Metro Vancouver over the past five years had been on average 20% taller?

First time buyer Lorenz curves revisited

Taking another look at first time buyer affordability: updating with 2021 data, accounting for property taxes, and introducing a discretized version of the measure.

Keith Stewart Jens von Bergmann

11 minute read

Three years ago we wrote a post on First Time Buyer Lorenz Curves, looking at what share of homes are in principle available to first-time home buyers.1 That post continues to be a more popular one, so we thought it would be good to update it with more recent data and expand some of the ideas further. In this post we want to update this with 2021 data that has now become available, consider the effect of property taxes on affordability that we previously neglected, and introduce a new discretized version of this measure that condenses the information into two parameters, making is easier to digest and compare across different housing markets and allows the tracing of change over time.

Housing Outcomes

Existing households are partially outcomes of our housing pressures, and basing analysis soley on households introduces collider bias. Which is substantial in tight housing markets and this misspecification can lead to misguided analysis and faulty policy recommendations.

Jens von Bergmann Nathan Lauster

24 minute read

(Joint with Nathan Lauster and cross-posted at HomeFreeSociology) Almost everyone agrees that we have a housing crisis in Canada, and that it has gotten progressively worse over recent history. But there is a problem. The metrics most commonly used don’t reflect that. TL;DR Most commonly used metrics use existing households as the base of analysis, but households are a consequence of housing pressures. This kind of misspecification is a form of collider or selection bias that, especially in tight housing markets, misleads researchers toward faulty conclusions and policy recommendations.

Housing targets

Taking a systematic look at how to set housing targets aimed at counteracting restrictive municipal housing policies, and what that means for Vancouver.

Jens von Bergmann Nathan Lauster

18 minute read

(Joint with Nathan Lauster and cross-posted at HomeFreeSociology) Municipalities in BC are required to submit Housing Needs reports, and integrate these into Official Community Plans and Regional Growth Strategies in something resembling housing targets. The BC Housing Supply Act now sharpens this process and adds some teeth, effectively enabling the province to define housing targets, accompanied by new provincial enforcement mechanisms, where the province selects municipalities not meeting housing need. Left unstated are the details of precisely how we should go about calculating housing needs or housing targets.

Metro Vancouver Planning Regimes

Taking a look at Metro Vancouver planning around housing and population growth.

Jens von Bergmann Nathan Lauster

23 minute read

(Joint with Nathan Lauster and cross-posted at HomeFreeSociology) In a previous post we looked at the history of planning regimes in the City of Vancouver. Similar shifts happened in other municipalities in the region, and they also fit into a broader shift in planning at the regional level. Regional level planning is less concerned with zoning and the regulations that govern housing production, and more with coordinating services and the broader guiding principles applying to municipal policies.