For 10+ years I thought Vancouver real estate was a giant bubble about to burst. I held off on buying real estate thinking that I'd get a better deal once prices dropped. Instead I purchased various investments and stocks, only to see the major crash after the US financial disaster in 2008. Most people waiting for lower prices have been really disappointed that prices keep rising in Vancouver. Now in 2017 after all the mortgage rule changes our government has imposed, along with a 15% non-resident purchase tax we have seen some prices dropping in recent months. Detached houses in West Vancouver have dropped by about 15% in the last 6 months, whereas condos have stayed fairly constant. Most young professionals can no longer afford houses, so condos are the only affordable option.
I firmly believe that it's important to get into the housing market as soon as one can afford to do so. The key is to think long term and pricing won't matter if you keep the home for 10+ years. There's a case to be made for renting as it can be less expensive than mortgage payments. For disciplined renters, you can invest the extra money and build equity this way. But in reality, most renters don't save as much as they think they will. Homeowners essentially have a forced savings plan which makes building wealth easier.
So is Vancouver in a bubble? Really hard to say. I don't believe condo prices will drop more than 20%, and more likely to continue to go up in value with limited land supply. I can see the high end multi million dollar homes dropping in value more, simply because most locals can't afford to pay 2-3-4-5 Million $$ for these places. Interest rates are likely to stay low for some time, and demand for real estate is high in this growing city. Although Vancouver is very unaffordable for many people, I don't see any major triggers to set off a housing market crash.
The best advice I can give is to buy real estate if you can afford it. Live in it, love it, and hold it long term. It will most certainly pay off for years to follow. Please contact me anytime if you'd like to chat more about getting pre-approved in Vancouver.