FAQ

Frequently Answered Questions

36. What are we to make of British Columbia Properties and the Strata Corporation Market in 2016?

Most of us buy one home at a time. Regional and national stories matter little from that perspective.

While we are continuously reminded that real-estate is hectic in Vancouver, stepping back to the provincial level brings some clarity to the mayhem.

What stands out over the last decade and for 2016?

NUMBER OF PROPERTIES

  • Every year BC Assessment updates its statistics on British Columbia’s properties. BC is close to the milestone of 2,000,000 properties as British Columbia now has 1,996,112 properties of all shapes, sizes and types.
  • On average, on a year-to-year basis, the increase in the number of properties is slowing down. While the annual increase rate in the number of properties has averaged 1.4 percent over the last 10 years (the green trend line), the percentage was 1.1 percent from 2015 to 2016.

Line Graph of BC Properties from 2005 to 2016

PROPERTY TYPES

  • BC Assessment covers more than fifteen (15) types of properties, from industrial, farm, commercial, residential etc.
  • The graph below illustrates the top six (6) types, with strata corporations representing 26 percent of all properties.
  • There are approximately 480,514 condo | strata lots in British Columbia in 2016. From other sources we understand that there are approximately 30,000 strata corporations, of which half have more than four (4) strata lots.
  • Interestingly, 9 percent of all properties are vacant, and this accounts for more residential properties than any type that follows.

Graph of Property Percentages

HOW CAN WE MAKE SENSE OF THIS INFORMATION?

  • Mark Twain reported that Benjamin Disraeli was to have said: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
  • Keeping this in mind, what does the information above mean on a per property basis?
  • We know from Statistics Canada and the graph below that British Columbia’s population increased on average by 1.2 percent over the same period (from 2005 to 2016), and that BC’s population – accounting for deaths etc. – is estimated to have increased by 1.4 percent, or 59,700 people from 2015 to 2016.

BC’s Population Growth by Year

People in BC per Year

  • Seeing the trend for a single variable is interesting, but what happens if one divides the number of people by the number of properties each year, from 2005 to 2016 as the graph below illustrates?
  • What stands out is that there are less people by property as time goes by. 

BC’s Population divided by BC’s Properties Each Year From 2005 to 2016

People per property

  • What if we consider households rather than properties? There are 1,951,809 households in 2016, 34,173 more than in 2015. There were 44,303 more properties than households in 2016. There are consistently more properties than households in BC.

FROM A PROVINCIAL POINT OF VIEW

Reviewing statistics on properties and population in BC over the last decade tells us that:

  • The number of properties is increasing at a rate of 1.4 percent from year to year on average.
  • Most properties are still single-family homes (60 percent).
  • The number of people is increasing at a rate of 1.2 percent from year to year on average.
  • When we divide the number of people by the number of properties each year, the number of people per property is going down to 2.38 people per property in 2016.
  • The average number of people per household was 2.49 over the period, and as for people per property, the number of people per household has also gone down from 2.53 in 2005 to 2.43 in 2016.
  • While the year-to-year increase in the number of properties is slowing down, it is higher than the increase in population.
  • The direction of change in the number of properties is tied to developers’ and speculators’ sense of the market. Might a future reduction in the increase of the number of properties be possible?
  • The past seems to tell us otherwise – According to Statistics Canada, BC’s new building investment increased by 14 percent from 2014 to 2015, of which detached homes rose by 4 percent, representing 45 percent of the new investments, and condos rose by 30 percent, representing 42 percent of the total new investments.

 

TAKEAWAYS

Since reviewing statistics at the aggregate level is both instructive, and misleading, please consider the following:

  • Strata properties represent 80 percent of the increase in the number of all properties since 2007.
  • For the Lower Mainland, strata properties represent 90 percent of all new properties added between 2010 and 2013.
  • Strata properties represent 30 percent of all taxable properties across the province in 2013.
  • On a local level, New Westminster’s strata corporations contribute 60 percent of the City’s taxes in 2010.