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Vancouver among world’s ‘least affordable’ housing markets

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Vancouver is the world's second-least affordable major city to buy a house, according to an annual survey of global housing markets.

The Eighth Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey covers 325 metropolitan markets around the world.

It measures the markets using something called the "median multiple," which is the median house price divided by gross annual median household income.

The study comes as Canadian banks worry about the state of the market and economists suggest prices could drop by as much as 10 percent in cities such as Vancouver and Toronto.

Yet Canada remained the third overall most affordable of all the markets surveyed. The markets that were surveyed were Australia, Canada, China (Hong Kong), Ireland, United Kingdom and the United States.

The report suggests the country is actually a very affordable place to own a home. There's a catch, of course. It depends where you buy. And it's a big country.

At 12.6 -- with prices at $678,500 and incomes at $63,800 -- Vancouver comes second only to Hong Kong in the major market category (cities over one million population), which has a rating of 12.6 ($3.1-million median house price, with income at $249,000).

Toronto sits in 18th place ($406,400/$73,600), sandwiched between Boston and Los Angeles with a rating of 5.5.

Montreal is the world's 23rd least affordable market, with a rating of 5.1 ($281,700/$54,700).

"Canada's Median Multiple was 3.5, indicating slightly deteriorating housing performance from last year's 3.4," the report states.

"All of the 128 affordable markets (having a Median Multiple of 3.0 or below) were in Ireland, Canada and the United States. There were 117 affordable markets in the United States and nine affordable markets in Canada and two affordable markets in Ireland."

There were no affordable markets in Australia, New Zealand or the United Kingdom.

"The 87 moderately unaffordable markets were divided between the United States (64), Canada (19), Ireland (3) and the United Kingdom (1). There were no moderately unaffordable markets in Australia or New Zealand."

The report said the world's least affordable markets all had something in common -- "each of the least affordable markets were characterized by more restrictive land-use regulations which materially increases the price of land and makes housing less affordable."

The most affordable major market in the world was Detroit, with a multiple of 1.4 ($66,500/$48,700).

Over all, Windsor was the most affordable Canadian city of any size, with a ratio of 2.2 ($149,900/ $67,900).

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