Victoria houses offer much better value than Metro Vancouver’s: survey

Lower Mainland residents looking to B.C. capital to get more bang for home buying buck, finds national home-cost-per-square-foot survey

Looking for bang for your home-buying buck? House prices in Victoria are much less expensive than Metro Vancouver's core and central suburbs, in terms of cost per square foot, a new national survey reveals.

Despite the recent market slowdown, condos in downtown Vancouver and detached houses on the West Side are the two most expensive markets in Canada when calculating the per-square-foot price of living space, according to the Century 21 Canada report released November 7.

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B.C.’s capital offers much more living space for the same money, found the survey. Victoria’s per-square-foot detached house price in the first six months of this year averaged a relatively modest $509, even though it is an 11 per cent rise over the same period in 2017.

In the national top spot, the average price of a downtown Vancouver condo is pegged at $1,345 per square foot, which is a staggering 39 per cent higher than one year previously.

Since last year’s survey, downtown Vancouver condos have overtaken Vancouver’s West Side houses, which have slid nearly five per cent year over year to $1,147 per square foot. That’s still more than double that of Victoria’s per-square-foot house prices.

Single-family homes across the whole of Vancouver, including the better-value East Side, averaged $845 per square foot in the first six months of 2018, down from $890 in the same period of 2017.

At $898.50, West Vancouver’s house prices were the fourth-priciest homes per square foot in Canada, beaten out – as they were last year – by downtown Toronto condos. The West Vancouver per-square-foot figure is a 10 per cent increase over the same period last year, despite absolute home prices dropping in that time.

So why are West Vancouver’s notoriously expensive houses so much less expensive than the West Side’s, on a square-foot basis?

“In West Vancouver, most of the homes are on considerably larger lots than the 33-foot lots that are typical for the West Side,” Brian Rushton, executive vice-president of CENTURY 21 Canada, told Glacier Media in response to last year’s survey, which saw similar results. “That means when you break the numbers down on a per-square-foot basis, it’s the West Side that’s more expensive.”

Per-square-foot house prices in North Vancouver were up nearly nine per cent to $681 per square foot, placing the city in eighth place. Richmond’s house prices rose more than 10 per cent to $677, ranking the city as the ninth most expensive in Canada, ahead of 10th-placed Montreal at $603. And Burnaby’s average house price was also more expensive than Victoria’s at $599 per square foot, up 1.91 per cent from the same period in 2017.

Century 21 acknowledged that, because the survey compared price data in the first six months of 2018 with the same period in 2017, price declines since that time are not taken into account.

Rushton said of this year’s survey, “It is no surprise that Vancouver’s downtown and West Side once again topped the list of Canada’s most expensive properties per square foot, even with a small decline over the last year. Looking across B.C., the price variation is remarkable. Going out just one or two suburbs cuts your price in half, while prices in more rural areas are closer to a quarter or less of those in Vancouver.”

Rushton added that the bigger bang for your buck is prompting home buyers to move to better-value areas. “We are hearing anecdotally from agents in the Fraser Valley and in communities like Victoria that they are seeing an increase in the number of Vancouver residents moving to take advantage of lower house pricing, which the surge in prices in Chilliwack and elsewhere would seem to support.”

In Fort St. John, the cost of a square foot of detached house dropped more than 27 per cent to just $171. Prices in Vernon increased 10 per cent year over year to $366 per square foot, added the report.

The real estate brokerage said that per-square-foot prices were calculated by Century 21 franchisees across Canada, taking into account local average or benchmark sale prices and square footage of homes sold in their area.

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