Angus Reid estimates that a staggering 150,000 struggling families are seriously thinking about moving away from Metro Vancouver to avoid the region’s housing costs and transportation issues.
A new comprehensive survey conducted by the opinion research company reveals that approximately one-fifth of respondents are ‘miserable’ because of their inability to access the housing market and their long commutes.
“Though diverse in their demography, the Miserable are united in their inability to access the housing market, and their long commutes,” reads the report. “For the Miserable, the mild winters, mountains and ocean hold distinctly less romance when weighed against the costs of living and getting around Metro Vancouver.”
In addition to those who are ‘miserable’ and want to leave, just over half of the respondents who identify as ‘uncomfortable’ – a group the encompasses about 27 per cent of respondents – are also seriously considering moving away.
The poll broke down respondents into four groups: happy, comfortable, uncomfortable and miserable.
Older generations dominated the ‘happy’ and ‘comfortable’ groups, mainly because they already own a home and purchased it prior to 2000 when prices were more affordable. About nine-in-ten within the ‘happy’ group agreed with the statement: “I basically ‘hit the jackpot’ by getting into the market at the right time.”
As well, a larger segment of these two comfortable groups do not commute or have relatively short commutes.
Not surprisingly, younger generations formed the majority of the ‘uncomfortable’ and ‘miserable’ groups. Within both of these unhappy groups, there is roughly a 50-50 split between those who already own a home and rent. They are also more likely to have mortgages and larger households, and approximately nine-in-ten respondents commute to work or school.
With the question on the causes of high housing prices, foreign investors were noted as the top factor with 64 per cent across all respondents indicating foreigners are to blame. This was followed by the factors of wealthy people investing in the real estate market (44%), people wanting to live in the region because of its desirability (38%) and condos and houses being left empty (35%).
Those in the ‘miserable’ group were much more likely to blame foreigners and wealthy investors.
The survey also notes that there is a disconnect between owners and renters and the root causes of the region’s housing issues.
Home owners are more likely than renters to think that high housing prices are caused by the region’s desirability, low interest rates and a lack of land for new construction. On the contrary, renters are more likely than owners to blame investors leaving their homes empty, a lack of government action on housing issues, and developers not building a sufficient supply of rental housing.
Most respondents believe in government intervention in the housing market. Seven-in-ten respondents agreed with the statement “government should be more involved in the housing market in order to improve affordability” while 30 per cent noted “government should stay out of the housing market. The free market should determine prices.”
The vast majority of respondents indicated their support for a number of new regulatory measures:
- 69 per cent support “a ‘speculation tax’ to reduce house ‘flipping’”
- 72 per cent would support limiting the number and types of properties that can be purchased by buyers from outside Canada
- 79 per cent support collecting data on who property buyers are and where they are from
- 79 per cent support imposing an extra property transfer tax on buyers from outside of Canada
- 82 per cent support imposing a “vacancy tax” on investor-owned properties that aren’t occupied
Respondents within the ‘miserable’ and ‘uncomfortable’ groups are more likely to support government action.