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Residential Market Commentary - week of February 13, 2017

Feb 13, 2017, 13:05 PM by Joelle Park

Bits and pieces of information are starting to come out of the 2016 federal census.  And there are already some interesting details for observers of Canada’s housing market.

The census indicates there are 14 million occupied private dwellings in Canada.  That is a 5.6% increase since the end of 2011.  It is also a marked slowdown in growth compared to the 7.1% increase that took place in the preceding five years.  Nunavut had the largest growth in dwellings at 13.4%.  The northern territory also experienced the largest rate of population growth in the country.

The figures reveal a troubling trend in Vancouver where the number of “unoccupied” housing units rose to 25,502 – a 15% increase over 2011.  Research by an urban planner with Simon Fraser University suggests that the portion of units that are “unoccupied or occupied solely by foreign residents and/or temporary present residents on Census Day” has doubled since 1986, from 4% to 8.2% as of the 2016 census.

The figures are double what the city of Vancouver estimated when it moved to implement a tax on vacant homes, but that is because the city used completely different criteria for its research.