Gold Medal for Most Expensive Real Estate

Least Affordable of 272 Markets

According to Demographia, “Vancouver remained the least affordable market of any size in the surveyed nations, at 9.3, worsening from 8.4 last year. Toronto joined Vancouver as severely unaffordable, with a Median Multiple of 5.2. However, Barrie, within the Toronto region was moderately unaffordable, at 3.4. Victoria, Abbotsford and Kelowna (all in British Columbia) were also severely unaffordable.”

This sure says that we are World Class Somethings.


The 6th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey was released today January 25, 2010. From this authors perspective, reading the report will either make you jump for joy or scare the hell out of you.

According to the Demographia report – “Historically, the Median Multiple has been remarkably similar among the nations surveyed, with median house prices being generally 3.0 or less times median household incomes. This affordability relationship continues in many housing markets of the United States and Canada. However, the Median Multiple has escalated sharply in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom and in some markets of Canada and the United States in recent years.”

The Dr.’s Thoughts

Rating Catagories

Dr. Toni Recisei, President, Save Our Suburbs Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, in his introduction, uses Sydney Australia as a focal point to address issues that may make you reconsider similar issues that have contributed to rank Vancouver as the least affordable.

Recisei isolates the core of the problem which he identifies as “The Need for Rational Policies.” He points to the fact that a vast number of folks claim that higher density is the answer to affordability when in reality little evidence exists to support this position.

He supports the statement that “available evidence shows that high-density makes things worse, not better in at least five ways.”

Green House Gases

– “Environmental issues trumps all others but “studies using a diversity of methods demonstrate the converse.”
– “Greenhouse gas emissions of those living in high-density areas are greater than for those living in low-density areas.”
– “Per person, apartment living uses more overall energy”
– “Per resident energy required to construct high-rise is much more than the energy needed to build single-residential dwellings”


“Congestion caused by high-density policies has adverse health consequences.”


“High-density is also bad for mental health”

“Raising young children in apartments has adverse consequences”


“more people to existing infrastructure results in overload”

Cost of Housing

“High-density planning increases the cost of housing”


Recisei highlights that many proponents of high density living suggest that “urban dwellers have 1/3 the carbon footprint of suburban dwellers” and clearly notes that the premise for this statement is incorrect. The studies Recisei refers to “depicts annual automobile miles traveled per dwelling instead of what should be per dweller. His justification is that:

  • the comparison conveniently ignores all our other greenhouse gas emissions – per person household and amortised construction emissions overall amount to much more than transport emissions
  • each person in high-density accounts for more of these households and amortised construction emissions than those in low density
  • there are fewer people per dwelling in high-density areas
  • the comparison ignores energy used in public transport of which there is a greater proportion in higher-density areas

Spreading Density

Ranked Severity of Housing Affordability

He concludes that “It is apparent that high-density is not the way to resolve the challenges posed by an increasing population. The enforced bland uniformity of high density living means more greenhouse gases, high traffic densities, worse health outcomes, a creaking and overloaded infrastructure, poor social outcomes and a whole generation locked out of owning their own home.”

Recisei’s particular concern is “that the unwise policies that afflict Sydney have spread to so many urban areas throughout the six nations covered by this Survey.”


This author has followed Demographia reports for some years. Until shown otherwise, they provide a compendium of research and opinion that is worthy of your consideration.

With a view to Vancouver’s EcoDensity Charter our city seems to be following the path Recisei outlined in his report. Consider if you will, the recent spate of provisions by our city leaders, to authorize secondary suites within apartments, 270-square-foot micro-lofts and laneway housing.

Here are some examples of “Little Diggs”

Are you feeling a little cramped or cozy?

Read the entire study (View Demographia as PDF – 56 pages).

*Disclaimer: All quotations from The 6th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey – with Introduction by Dr. Tony Recsei. While believed to be accurate the opinions are not guaranteed.

About Larry Yatkowsky

Larry is a recognized real estate expert. A veteran professional, his experienced counsel leads Vancouverites in his west side community to place their trust in a man passionate about his work. Uncompromising ethics bring a balanced approach to realizing your real estate dreams.

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*Disclaimer: Statistics Courtesy REBGV. While believed to be accurate they are not guaranteed.
**Numbers provided may vary as they are dynamically posted by the REBGV.

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