Single-family home prices are rising quickly and governments need to get more involved. (Black Press files)

Single-family home prices are rising quickly and governments need to get more involved. (Black Press files)

Our View: Province must take lead on keeping housing affordable

It’s in no one’s best interest for house prices to shoot up 20 per cent a year

Your detached house probably made more money than you did in the last 12 months.

That’s not a joke, that is literally true. By the end of February, the average single-family home in the suburbs of Metro Vancouver had shot up in value by around 20 per cent. House values were already averaging between $800,000 and $1 million, so your house made between $160,000 and $200,000 since the start of the pandemic.

That’s great if you were already planning to downsize and cash in, but it’s terrible for anyone under 30 or 35 years old, who’s been trying to save up for a down payment.

The causes of this frantic pandemic housing market are varied, including low interest rates and a drive for more space by new home-office workers. Countries all over the developed world are seeing similar pressures.

But the solutions are going to have to be made in B.C.

We need to simultaneously constrain speculation, invest in public and affordable rental housing, and also, at long last, come up with a method of ensuring a reasonable and steady supply of homes can be built to accommodate the growing population of Metro Vancouver.

That means density, but not necessarily condo towers. We need to allow flexibility to create decent-sized moderate-density housing across the entire region – no one city can shoulder the whole burden of being the change-maker.

That means the province may have to work with Metro Vancouver – even to override zoning legislation in individual communities. Vancouver in particular is dragging its feet on even low-level densification, like allowing more duplexes, townhouses, or low-rise condos.

If we want the next generation to have anywhere to live at all, we can’t allow 20 per cent jumps in home prices year after year.

– M.C.

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