Regular reader and commenter ‘formula1’ has pointed out an interesting statistic: that of the apparently fast disappearing SFH in the City of Vancouver.
(from a table in ‘Metro Vancouver Housing Book’, metrovancouver.org, April 2011 [pdf])
formula1 writes (at VREAA 9 Dec 2011 9:30am and 4:40pm):
“If you want an explanation of the price increases in detached the last 10 years you need look no further than the loss of supply.
We were at 67K in 1991, 65K in 1996, 65K in 2001 and 48K in 2006 – so the majority of this 20K loss happened in just 5 years. So here we are 5 years removed from the last census. If the trend holds we’re now at around 30K detached…a loss of 60% since 1991.
Kinda puts a kink in detached housing crash plans.” …
“The demand for a SFH is alive and well. The supply is on life support.
This is an interesting claim, let’s look at the figures.
A drop in detached SFHs in Vancouver from 65,390 to 48,365 between 2001 and 2006. That’s a loss of 17,025 SFHs, or 26% of the existing SFHs, or one in every FOUR SFHs, in just 5 years!! Where did all those houses go?
We find this number remarkable. If it is indeed true, we’d have to address the implications, as formula1 points out. But the numbers have what researchers call questionable ‘face validity’, meaning that, just on the face of it, it’s a figure we find we want to question. Did Vancouver really lose one in every four SFHs over 5 years? Part of our reason for asking for verification of the data is that, in our recollection of watching SFHs destroyed between 2001 and 2006, almost every time one went down one or two new SFHs seemed to rise in it’s place. Sure, some were levelled for townhome or condo developments, but surely not a total of one in every four?
We’d ask readers to help clarify this matter.
Firstly, is there anybody who can shed light on the data table or source? There is a footnote to the table in the report regarding reclassification of certain dwelling types between 2001 and 2006. Is the apparent change in SFH numbers simply in part a classification change?
Secondly, did any of you out there actually see these 17,025 SFHs disappear? Is this just something that I missed? Sure I’ve seen some go, but 17,025?? Let’s collect a rough inventory of the SFHs in Vancouver that were knocked down to make way for multi-occupant dwellings. Something like ‘2004: ABC block XYZ Avenue; 80 SFHs became EFG condos (or highway, or whatever)’. It’ll be most efficient to first focus on places where this happened in large swatches. We’ll ignore SFHs that were knocked down to be replaced by a single SFH, but, on the other side of the ledger, let’s take note of SFHs that were knocked down to be replaced by two or more SFHs (contributing to a rise in the number of SFHs). Post the observed data as comments and, if it turns out to be necessary, we’ll collate later into a separate table.
Thirdly, we thank ‘formula1’ for sparking this exercise. If the number of SFHs are dropping at a rate of 25% every five years, we need to consider this effect on the whole market. ‘formula1’ does commit a logical error in assuming that the 2001-2006 trend has continued 2006-2011 and that “..we’re now at around 30K”. That’d mean that more than one in every two SFHs had disappeared in the last 10 years, a claim that is very hard to believe.
So, are SFHs indeed disappearing at a remarkable rate in the City of Vancouver?
Please shed light on this, readers.