Today the new CMHC Rental Market Survey data came out, which is a good opportunity to refine my musings on the rental vacancy rate and rent increases. I view this as the renter version of the relationship between months of inventory and changes in resale prices in the for sale market. CMHC surveys purpose-built (market) rental apartments every October and reports on a variety of metrics, including statistics about the total stock, median and average rents, vacancy rates, and fixed-sample average rent change among others.
Last year we took a detailed look at Single Family teardowns in Vancouver, that is houses in RS or “Single Family” zoning that got torn down. We focused exclusively on those homes in RS zoning because these have to be replaced by another, often bigger, Single Family home. Using historical data we build a probabilistic model to predict future teardowns in Vancouver. If you haven’t taken the time yet to read through the data story, you probably should do that right now.
Smarter people than I have already responded to the recent furor about John Rose’s working paper, which is (part of?) the result of one year of research on affordability by the author, arguing that Vancouver has no supply problem. Most notably Nathan Lauster in a series of blog posts taking a look at the theoretical framework and methods used and running some numbers himself. I don’t have much to add to the first post, which took the time to highlight some of the useful demand measures that are either already implemented or currently under discussion and makes the point that the idea that we have enough housing in Vancouver, especially enough rental housing, requires an extraordinarily strong argument in the face of sub 1% rental vacancy rates.
Currently we are at record levels of dwelling units under construction in Metro Vancouver. At the same time, we are also at record timelines from building start to completion. Those two are of course related in that the more projects are being worked on simultaneously, the harder it is to find and coordinate all the labour and materials to finish the projects. There are other reasons too for escalating construction times.