To say affordable housing is a polarized topic would be an understatement. Many people in the Vancouver area are flat out outraged. I am not here to debate the moral points of the standards of living or housing affordability in the Lower Mainland. I simply want to share my perspective as someone who works in the real estate sales market and watches the published sales data closely.

I don’t think anyone would argue that buying any piece of real estate in Vancouver prior to 1977 would have been a good investment. I looked as far back as I could go on the Multiple Listing Service and in 1977 you could purchase a home in New West, where I live and work, for about seventy thousand dollars. Today just the lot value alone would be in the million dollar range. Good investment, right?

Let’s look at the digitally recorded data post-1977.
Vancouver and its suburbs have had some form of data collection for recording property prices since 1919 when the first organized group of Lower Mainland real estate sales professionals was founded. This group eventually became our united real estate board(s) and introduced a catalogue and sharing system for home sales.
If you look at the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver’s historical data, the overall trend has consistently been upward. I am not talking about a single year over year because that will fluctuate – and we saw that most recently in the 2008 downturn. Historically, over the long term, housing prices for Vancouver and its outlying areas have always increased.
I am not a stock market analyst but I felt the need to put some money in RRSP’s. I met with a banking professional who showed me a bunch of mutual fund graphs and obviously was trying to sell me on some specific funds. She told me “Don’t be concerned with the small ups and downs. Look at the larger picture of the fund’s performance since its introduction 20 years ago. If you’re investing for the long term, focus on the long term trends.”

Sounds a lot like investing in real estate for the long term, doesn’t it?
I know it’s easy to look back now that we know the market has come up and say “If I only just bought any piece of property 20, 10, 5 years ago…” But the truth is this: 20, 10, even 5 years ago people were saying the same things to me they are saying right now. “If only I had just bought back when…”
It seems to me if you buy anything in metro Vancouver, and you are in it for the long haul, it will eventually increase.