Affordability in Vancouver has improved slightly following the implementation of the foreign-buyer tax in August, but it remains a “major vulnerability” in the city, according to an RBC report released April 24.
This doesn’t mean a crash is likely, however, because the city’s employment situation is solid, according to the report.
The jobless rate in the city has fallen to 4.7% – the lowest it has been since 2008, and this trend is expected to continue, providing “substantial support” to the housing market, according to RBC.
One factor that could lead to vulnerabilities in the medium term is a declining adult population growth rate. Between March 2016 and March 2017, the growth rate was 1.4%; this is down from 1.9% over the previous year. According to RBC, this means the growth rate has dipped below a 1.5% threshold that signals the existence of elevated housing risks.
The market’s demand-supply balance has eased over the past year, moving away from a strong seller’s market. This happened quickly, with policy changes over the past several months lowering price expectations between September 2016 and January of this year, particularly for single-detached homes. Prices increased slightly in February and March, however, which RBC said is due to many foreign buyers returning to the market after initially stepping aside after the 15% tax was implemented.