While none of us can truly predict the future, except that octopus in Germany that predicted the World Cup winners consistantly, there are certain indicators that we can look to in making forecasts for the real estate market.
Vancouver is in the unique position in Canada of having a limited supply of land available for development, while at the same time having an ever growing demand from international, and interprovincial immigration.
Post-Olympics Vancouver has seen an embarassment of riches in the tourism industry. June and July are showing that the high end hotels in Greater Vancouver are at phenominal occupancy rates. These types of high end hotels provide the city with high end tourists, many of which are willing and able to own secondary homes internationally. The exposure to all that the Vancouver life-style has to offer is a great advertising vehicle to this market. This same prospective buying group is also being enticed into the city via the new convention centre, which is bringing in industry groups from around the world for professional gatherings.
Household growth in Vancouver is predicted to be 32 thousand per year while housing starts lag behind at an estimated 14 - 16 thousand per year. This scarcity of demand will continue to drive the Vancouver market. There has been a market adjustment recently, but this only slows down the upward price pressure and doesn't remove it. Vancouver is not in a bubble. The price growth will still be a healthy 8 to 9 % year to year increase.
The cost of construction in Vancouver is higher than in other Canadian markets. This is due partly to the demands of the terrain in the Greater Vancouver area. Issues related to earthquake proofing the buildings, soil density, bedrock, and elevation all play a part in making construction in Vancouver a costly venture. Added to the mix is the hard cost of land in Vancouver. Between the physical limitations, there are also economic restrictions and political restrictions that limit the supply of usable land for development.
The city of Surrey is poised to become the largest city in the Greater Vancouver area within the decade. Richmond, and the Tri-Cities are also growing quickly as mass transportation in and out of Vancouver improves.
The biggest challenge, and one of the most important moving forward, is the supply of affordable rental units in Greater Vancouver. The influence of foreign investors is very important in the development of a sustainable rental property supply. It is estimated that 32% of Vancouver residents are renters, and that number will increase as the need to replace the Baby Boomer workers builds over the next decade.
What all of this means to the real estate market is that the Vancouver area has all of the fundamentals to continue to grow over the foreseeable future. Certainly there will be bumps in the trajectory, but the lack of supply, coupled with the growing demand will continue to push prices and development.