Fears of a new condo shortage in Vancouver have eased slightly as mandatory registrations of new strata units with BC Housing for warranty insurance increased through the second half of last year.
In 2017, the city saw a 54 per cent decrease in new multi-family starts, mostly condos, which fell to 4,500 units.
As of July of last year, registrations had been down 28 per cent from a year before.
But, by the end of last year, registration of new strata units with the BC Homeowner Protection (HPO) had reached 4,000 in Vancouver, a slight increase from 2016.
Registrations of new homes with the HPO are seen as a harbinger of new home construction, since the warranty registrations are required before building permit applications are made, according to BC Housing.
The registrations are not required on rental units.
Even with the increase in HPO registrations, Vancouver multi-family starts this year do not appear likely of matching the nearly 8,500 starts seen in 2016.
Starts may even slow slightly in the Metro region.
Total HPO strata registrations, which include townhouse and condo apartments, across Metro Vancouver were down to 21,090 units in 2017, from more than 23,000 in 2016.
Registrations were lower in Surrey, Richmond and Coquitlam, but higher in Langley and North Vancouver, where they increased by 40 per cent to 1,233 units.
The Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association (GVHBA) noted that last year’s decline in multi-family starts in Vancouver was likely the result in of a backlog of permit applications in the city and the demands place on an industry with more than 30,000 multi-family units under construction.
“No one I’m talking to is slowing down – it’s crazy busy out there,” said Bob de Wit, CEO of the GVHBA.
“There are some very large projects underway that are taking up productive capacity and limiting new starts and delaying warranty purchases for subsequent projects,” de Wit explained.