Photo: Reg Natarajan/Flickr

Despite recent studies which show that foreign homebuyers play a minor role in Metro Vancouver’s housing market, city residents continue to blame the group for the affordability crisis.

In an online survey by Insights West, 90 per cent of Metro Vancouverites acknowledge that the region is in the midst of a housing crisis, and 84 per cent believe the primary reason behind it are foreign buyers.

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Insights West President Steve Mossop says the findings reveal that misconceptions regarding the causes of the housing crisis still exist.

“As the housing situation reaches crisis proportions, there is no shortage of scapegoats to blame, despite studies that show foreign buyers and money laundering are minor factors in the equation,” says Mossop, in a statement.

The Western Canada-based market research company polled 561 adult residents of Metro Vancouver in mid-July..

In addition to foreign buyers, 80 per cent of Metro Vancouverites say overall population growth was a primary cause of the housing crisis, along with shadow flipping (76 per cent) and money laundering (73 per cent).

According to respondents, other factors that are causing the housing crisis include: city and municipal zoning bylaws (63 per cent), immigration (58 per cent) and lack of available land due to the natural geography (53 per cent).

“There is no doubt that Metro Vancouver residents believe that we are in a major crisis when it comes to housing, and the issue is dominating public opinion and the public agenda,” says Mossop.

Among all respondents, 83 per cent of those aged 18 to 34 and 87 per cent of renters say they have been negatively affected the most by the housing crisis. In fact, a third of renters say the housing situation is having a “significant negative impact” on them.

Although home values are rising during this period, only 26 per cent of homeowners say the housing situation is impacting them in a positive way, while 41 per cent say the crisis is impacting them negatively.

Interestingly, Insights West also asked homeowners if they rent out their secondary suites, as a shortage of rental supply is often cited as a contributing factor to the region’s housing crisis.

Of the 17 per cent who have a secondary suite, only 54 per cent are renting out the space. The primary reasons for not renting out the space include: using the suite for other purposes (57 per cent), not wanting to share their house with strangers (34 per cent) and saving their suite for guests (26 per cent).

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