Affordability challenges are among the most pressing issues facing housing markets throughout the North, according to a report released Oct. 29 by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CHMC).
The Northern Housing Report focuses on housing in the three territorial capitals — Whitehorse, Yellowknife and Iqaluit — with much of the information contained in the report focused on the end of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020.
“High costs of land and labour translate into higher costs for housing, and lack of available land for new development further exacerbates the problem,” it’s noted.
The stats for Whitehorse from April show the average rent for a two-bedroom unit at $1,227 and the vacancy rate at 3.7 per cent, while in Yellowknife, the average cost for a two-bedroom unit is $1,744 with the vacancy rate at 4.2 per cent. Finally, in Iqaluit the average rent for a two-bedroom comes in at $2,736 with a vacancy rate at 0.2 per cent.
In an Oct. 29 interview, CHMC economist Goodson Mwalesaid rental demand in Whitehorse was more moderate in 2019 due to an aging population and international migration to the territory slowing down.
He noted in looking at average and median housing prices, the CHMC used figures from the Yukon Bureau of Statistics. While he said prices may look different from ads for available rental units or homes being sold, the statistics factor in prices that can vary by neighbourhood and features of various units.
The Yukon, he said, has the oldest population of the three territories and while that points to a need to focus more on seniors’ housing, it is often those ages 15 to 24 that are in the rental market while older populations are more likely to own their homes.
As stated in the report, in 2019, the territory’s population of those ages 65 and older remained strongest at 10.4 per cent. That was followed by 5.4 per cent for those in the age 35 to 44 category.
Meanwhile, the number of people moving to Whitehorse in 2019 fell to 252 compared to 794 who moved here in 2018.
While an aging population and lower number of residents moving to the territory has impacted the rental market, the report also shows a low inventory of homes being resold and the ongoing sellers’ market have seen prices rise for homes.
“Resale inventories remained low in 2019,” the report states. “ … As such, home prices increased across the board in 2019 from 2018. The average price for single-detached houses rose 7.4 per cent to $516,200, while the average for condominiums increased by 9.4 per cent to $376,800. Meanwhile, the average price for duplexes rose 3.4 per cent to $377,700 in 2019.”
Mwale said the CHMC will be looking at incorporating more data, such as issues like how construction costs impact housing prices and information that may be available on markets in other northern communities outside the three territorial capital cities, into future housing reports.
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