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Vancouver housing market cools off, but buying still out of reach for some

By BRENT JANG for The Globe and Mail

Lower housing sales in Vancouver have yet to translate into bargain buys at the entry level, despite headlines in recent months on the city’s real estate market cooling down, industry experts say.

Buying is no closer to being within reach for millennials because the market downturn has mostly hit detached houses while having only a relatively muted impact so far on pricing for entry-level condos and townhouses, said demographer Andy Yan, director of Simon Fraser University’s city program.

To make starter homes in Vancouver affordable, wages would have to skyrocket and/or condo prices would have to collapse, Mr. Yan said. “It could be a mix, of course – some version of doubling incomes or halving prices so that the market is realigned to local incomes,” he said in an interview on Tuesday.

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Since mid-2014, condo prices in Vancouver have soared more than 50 per cent, even after factoring in a pricing drop in the first half of 2018.

It has been two years since the provincial government, then led by the B.C. Liberals, slapped a 15-per-cent tax on foreign buyers in the Vancouver region. In February, 2018, the B.C. NDP minority government raised that tax to 20 per cent and also expanded its reach to include other urban areas in British Columbia.

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