Lots of discussion lately about whether we are being overrun by the Vancouver hordes, and if so, whether that will continue. After much discussion on this topic last year, there is certainly no shortage of hyperventilating in the news about those wealthy Vancouver buyers snapping up properties. Vague stories of Vancouver interest mashed together with anecdotes of bidding wars combine to paint a scary picture for locals hoping to get into the market. Buy now or be priced out forever! As usual the stories are light on logic and won’t help anyone figure out whether Vancouver buyers are actually a big factor here. So let’s take a look.
Starting with the traffic on this blog, there was certainly an uptick last spring from Vancouver visitors, reaching almost 20% of traffic in March and April. A proxy for the Vancouver buyer? Well when a property is sold, the agent fills in a field called “Buyer city” on the listing, which indicates where the buyer is from. Yes the data isn’t perfect since some agents don’t fill it in, citing the protection of privacy (about 5%). But despite much gnashing of teeth about how buyers might rent here first and be counted as locals, it is a consistent measure of where buyers are coming from. Think of it as a lower bound for measuring how many buyers might be coming from out of town.
Personally I find this graph truly astonishing. While I knew Vancouver buyers were a factor last year, the magnitude of the difference to previous years really wasn’t apparent to me. It’s quite clear that Vancouver buyers started increasing in 2014, grew more in 2015, and absolutely exploded in 2016.
At the same time, it is interesting that this year to date, Vancouver buyers are way down again. Was this some kind of freak lemming migration that only happens every few decades? Or will the Vancouver buyers pour in again this year? I’ll keep monitoring this.