Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Real World Data...Percentage Of Housing Stock Owned By Investors In British Columbia.

From Douglas Todd's recent piece on how Singapore is dealing with investors scooping up housing in the Vancouver Sun. The data are inclusive of both houses and condos.



Glen Clark said...

I totally get your point and broadly agree with it. But, by definition, rental housing is all "investor owned". There is a somewhat tricky public policy goal of encouraging rental housing construction, while discouraging speculation. I'm not sure the city-state, somewhat benign dictatorship, of Singapore is the best model. i would prefer the Vienna model where something like 50% of housing stock is owned by the government.

RossK said...


On your first point, does anyone break those data down...Maybe Andy Yan?

On your second point, how does Vienna disperse the stock?


Glen Clark said...

actually, 25% of Vienna housing stock is owned by the city government and a further 25% is private housing built on city owned land and with controls to ensure affordability. The City spends several hundred million every year (and has since at least the 1940's). While the city rents to lower income residents you aren't required to move out if your income goes up. as a result, much like co-op housing in Canada, there is a real mix of incomes in public housing and no 'poor housing blocks for poor people' stigma that is too often the case in North America. So, it always seemed to me that an activist government with a sustained commitment to affordability can make a huge difference to the provision of secure, working class housing. Of course, speculation/vacancy taxes and such are important tools as well.

RossK said...


So, do you have any suggestions about how we could re-invigorate our Co-Op programs or should we go all in with the Vienna model?...Aren't there issues with the Co-Op leases on CoV land starting to come due?

And you keep on using that word, 'activist'.... (he said snarkily)


Glen Clark said...

Yes, I'm a big proponent of Co-op housing. Finance officials (and some activists) don't advocate for them because it results in a 'subsidy' for working people. Or put another way, with scarce public dollars we should spend them on where we get the biggest bang for the buck- namely housing the poor who have no or few options. My experience with Co-ops in my time in politics is that they do a terrific job of social integration. In fact, many families would start out as 100% government subsidy and through interaction with neighbours would end up getting jobs and stay in the coop but have the subsidy reduced or disappear. I have always believed that "programs designed only for poor people result in poor programs". In other words, I like universal programs that encourage buy-in from the broad population (like health care without user fees). Inside the NDP there is a serious debate about universal programs with some prominent people arguing (at least privately) against them. It is always some version of the "look we don't have enough money so it all should go to low income and disadvantaged folks". Personally, I reject that notion. The Vienna housing program could absolutely be built here. But people would have to accept the notion that government housing should not just be for poor people.
Sorry for the long ramble.

RossK said...

And, ultimately, I would think that more universality equals more buy-in, no?

Heckfire, the two universal programs that most most won me over when I was a callow youth who thought I could do everything myself were healthcare and (pretty much at the time) post-secondary education.


NVG said...

Slightly off topic RossK, but your Vancouver Sun's link to Douglas Todd's on-line recent piece had me re-reading it four times before I understood what it all meant. Its truly amazing just how easily the online version can really screw up the basic information, especially when: 'Any Yan' will 'd ropped' errors:

"Investors are squeezing many other buyers out. The share of transactions last year by first-time homebuyers in Chilliwack, for instance, d ropped to eight per cent from 15 per cent the year before, says SFU researcher Any Yan. That’s while the number of residential transactions in the city’s fiery market grew 50 per cent."

But, in all seriousness, today's off-shore buyers appear to have access to unlimited wealth which is having a direct effect on the local population who are without the means to make counter offers for properties that would have been within their reach.

Looking back, further, isn't what we are experiencing first hand the same as to what happened to the First Nation people where their land, their resources, were taken when the Europeans (not only) sailed onto the west coast coast with money to burn?

Graham said...

Very interesting to have Mr. Clark give his thoughts here. I agree with the need for more co-ops and government initiated housing.
Personally I would like to do away with foreign ownership and not having companies or investor groups owning large swathes of real estate.
If the wealthy and the connected are always allowed to buy up what’s available then it doesn’t matter how much housing inventory is added the average person will still be competing against them.

e.a.f. said...

Having lived in a co-op in Champlain Heights for 15 yrs, and was president for the majority of that time, I support Glen's position on c0-ops. They're blended income and it works. We had more than one single mom move in with her kids, on social assistance, and move into the work force with full time employment. One, they work on committees which gives them work experience, some then started helping at the school--more experience, etc. Back in the 1980s, if you lived in a co-op and your housing charges were 25% to 30% of gross income, some people were able to save and purchase a home.

co-ops enable people on social assistance, disability or CPP to live with some dignity. You also get to know your neighbours and I found parents traded kids clothing, etc.

Lets hope the city of Vancouver does not terminate all the land leases co-ops are located on.

The problems started when the federal government stated permitting banks to provide the mortgages. The first co-op program, the feds, lent the money to the co-op at 3%. The banks then lobbied the government and they started providing the loans. The problem was interest rates went to 22%. the government was required to pay the deferance between 3% and that 22% or 19 1/2% You haven't been shocked until you sign a $3.5 million mortgage at 19%.
The third program relied upon rising incomes of the members of co-ops and what did we get? Wage stagnation.

The federal governmennt could start up the co-op program again, but this time, they lend the money, not banks.

One individual who was very instrumental in the coop housing sector was Elain Duval.

Housing only those at the bottom of the economic scale simply creates ghettos and makes it easier for government's to ignore co-ops if circumstances change.

In the Netherlands the government owns 40$ of the housing stock.
Denmark, 19% of housing stock is owned by housing societies and 1% by government.

I can recall when the federal government tore down all the veterans housing along 4th Ave., in vancouver and other areas in Kits. what a waste and how useful that land would be today. cities ought to be banned from selling land. It will be required in the future, even if some politicians can only see $ signs for their developer friends. Our population will continue to grow.

If investors keep purchasing the housing being built younger generations won't be able to afford a home of their own. We will be held hostage by the investor class. Large corporations don't care about tennants, they're there to make money for their shareholders.

Canada might want to consider banning foreign ownership of land or housing. The country also needs to deal with money laundering because there are billions rolling through our economy and it isn't leaving. Its not going to help Canadians buy houses.

In N.B. there have been cases of numbered companies purchasing older apartment buildings, for $500K or $600K over asking; giving tennants 40% to 53% rent increases, in a province which doesn't have a cap on rent increases.
Now with that much money being spent for over asking, the first thing which went through my mind was "money laundering"

the lack of affordable housing and "snow washing" are in my opinion linked.
As one commenter once wrote, it was easier to set up a company in canada than obtain a library card. the library asked him for more I.d.