How Vancouver’s lack of townhouses impacts its housing market

The Vancouver Sun reports that a lack of townhouses in the Vancouver real estate market is creating challenges for first-tome buyers as well as downsizers:

“The shortage means young people delay purchasing a home until later in their lives, or move farther out into the suburbs, Jon Bennest, co-owner of Urban Analytics, said. For downsizers, it means staying in their home longer or moving to an apartment.” 

While there’s ample demand for townhouses (as evidenced by the fact that they’re quickly snatched up after hitting the market), some residents oppose the addition of townhouses to their neighbourhood because of the higher density of people it would bring. Lack of zoning is another challenge to the development of more townhouses.

As a result, some developers build larger condos to fill that gap and serve as a stepping-stone option for owners who want more space, while others build micro-units instead. Micro-units appeal to Millennials who haven’t accumulated much stuff or Baby Boomers who want to downsize, but they don’t necessarily fill the needs of that in-between market, often families who need space for cribs, changing tables and kids’ toys (we’ve previously blogged about the trend of families staying in their starter condos due to rising prices).

How do townhouses differ from condos?

Townhouses are often multi-level dwellings, while condos are typically on one floor (though some larger condos may span multiple floors). Condos may have in-unit laundry or shared laundry, while townhouses tend to have their own laundry. Condos may have direct access to the outdoors, but are more commonly accessed through a shared hallway, while townhouses almost always have direct entry from outside.

Townhouses and condos typically both have monthly association dues. For instance, condo dues (or strata fees) may cover heating and electricity, while townhouses would have separate heat and electricity. If the condo or townhouse community has shared amenities such as a pool or fitness centre, those would also be covered by your dues. In most cases, both would cover snow and lawn care, outside maintenance, trash removal and hazard insurance for the building structure and exterior (you’d need to buy your own homeowner’s insurance for the unit itself). Whether looking a condo or townhouse, it’s important to consider how these costs will impact your overall housing budget.

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About Atrina Kouroshnia

Atrina Kouroshnia is an independent, licensed, mortgage broker in the province of British Columbia. She has a degree in Human Relations & Commerce, and past work experiences in HR & Real Estate Development. She comes to the table with great customer service and problem-solving skills. Her approach to finding the best mortgage solution involves both short and long-term planning, making sure her clients are in a suitable mortgage that is flexible to their needs.