Metro Vancouver Rental Vacancy Rates Loosen – Slightly

Flurry of apartment completions improves availability, but rents still on the rise

The rental vacancy rate across Metro Vancouver has improved from last year’s record low – but remains less than 1%, according to annual Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation statistics released November 28.

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The vacancy rate for purpose-built apartments in the Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) has risen from 0.7% in 2016 to 0.9% this year, said the federal housing agency.

For private condos that are rented out, which comprise about one-third of the total rental stock in Vancouver CMA, the vacancy rate has risen from a shockingly low 0.3% last year to a still-tight 0.6% in 2017.

The CMHC’s report said, “A slight increase in apartment vacancies… is likely due to the highest number of rental completions added to the market in over 25 years.”

Despite the minor improvement in availability of homes for rent, average rents in the Vancouver CMA have risen at markedly higher rate than both inflation and the allowable annual rental-price increase.

The average rent for a one-bedroom purpose-built unit in the region has risen from $1,159 in 2016 to $1,223 this year, an increase of 6.1%. For all Vancouver CMA apartments regardless of number of bedrooms, the average rent has risen 5.9% year over year.

Rental vacancies across BC as a whole remained at 1.3%, the same rate as last year. Some markets saw a considerable tightening in rental vacancies – particularly Kelowna and Abbotsford-Mission CMAs, both regions of which saw vacancy rates dropped from an already tight 0.6% to a record low of 0.2%. Both cities have recently been named in the top 10 best places in BC for real estate investment.

That tightening had different effects in the two markets, however. Rents in Kelowna have risen 8.6% year over year, but Abbotsford’s average rent increase was a much more modest 2.5%.


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