I was thinking about the state of the current real estate market in Greater Vancouver and I was wondering where future buyers of real estate are going to come from given the abysmally low current sales levels and the atrociously high prices. Who can afford to buy and how big is that pool of buyers compared to the population.
I had a look at the historic census data on home ownership versus renters in 1991, 1996, 2001, and 2006 and this is what I found. CMA = Census Metro Area.
In 1991, there were 588,590 occupied dwellings in the Vancouver CMA. 334,420 (57%) were owner occupied. 254,170 (43%) were rented.
In 1996, there were 692,720 occupied dwellings in the Vancouver CMA. 411,400 (59%) were owner occupied. 281,320 (41%) were rented.
In 2001, there were 758,390 occupied dwellings in the Vancouver CMA. 462,645 (61%) were owner occupied. 295,745 (39%) were rented.
In 2006, there were 816,770 occupied dwellings in the Vancouver CMA. 531,725 (65%) were owner occupied. 285,045 (35%) were rented.
We can safely assume that the owner occupied percentage has not fallen from the 2006 level. The current housing bubble was born out of a natural predilection towards home ownership and demographic trends, developed rapidly via low interest rates, and grew into a fat, disgusting beast via irrational ownership psychology and greater fool mentality. It is now time to pay for these excesses. Some of the excesses were part of the natural cycle but the bubble developed out of the unnaturally low interest rate environment and the bubble mentality
Given the above data, I just don't see any turnaround soon. Most of the potential buyers are gone. There are no more greater fools. The supply of homes for sale continues to build but there are very few willing buyers at todays prices. I expect that some renters may be convinced to buy if prices came in line with rents but this pool of buyers has shrunk over the past 20 years so there is little opportunity. Add to this the fact that many baby boomers will be looking to downsize from their large suburban homes into smaller dwellings over the next 10 - 15 years and you have a recipe for a very long and deep correction in housing.
Statistics from here. http://www.metrovancouver.org/about/statistics/Pages/KeyFacts.aspx