British Columbia

1 in 4 Vancouver homes could be torn down in next 13 years: study

The answer to Metro Vancouver's housing crisis could lie in homes sitting on properties more valuable than the actual house itself, researchers say.

Professor creates tool that forecasts how many homes could be demolished in city

A UBC professor has suggested that 25% of homes in Vancouver will be torn down in the next 13 years. (Jared Thomas/CBC)

An architecture professor at the University of British Columbia says about a quarter of detached home in Vancouver could be torn down in just over a decade.

Joseph Dahmen has created a tool that forecasts how many homes could be demolished in the city by 2030 — victims of the recent surge in property values.

Dahmen's tool estimates what he calls relative building value, which is how much a home is worth relative to the value of the land it sits on.

From that data, a teardown predictor tool was developed: the lower the value of the house compared to the land it sits on, the higher the chance the dwelling will be torn down and replaced. 

Plastic orange fencing, often marking a home that's soon to be torn down, is an increasingly common sight in Vancouver neighbourhoods. (Chris Corday/CBC)

"If you have $2 million of land, you'd have to put a $4 million house on it to get into a range generally considered to be healthy," Dahmen's fellow researcher and mathematician Jens von Bergmann told CBC News.

"That is very hard to achieve."

Given the recent, rapid rise of Vancouver real estate values, half the single-family homes in the city already have relative values below 7.5 per cent, which Dahmen and fellow number crunchers say creates a more than 50/50 chance the house will face the wrecking ball.

They say that by 2030, if relatives values continue to plummet, 25 per cent of all single-family homes could be replaced with houses that maximize size.

"It's not clear how that will help affordability,'' says fellow researcher and mathematician Jens von Bergmann in a release.

"We should ask ourselves how to replace these teardowns with more units of ground-oriented, family-friendly homes on each lot.''

Dahmen and von Bergmann developed the index using municipal data and B.C. Assessment records on detached homes bought and sold in Vancouver between 2005 and 2015.

A news release from the University of British Columbia says the two compared land value, building value and lot size with variables such as whether the property had been torn down a couple of years before or after the sale.

With files from CBC's Megan Batchelor