A Worrying Housing Stat

Something I keep forgetting to mention when writing about the demolition of the Black Building and the Crescent Apartments…. The eviction notices for those rental units were sent out in November but the Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation does their housing survey in October.

So when we talk about Regina’s 0.6 per cent vacancy rate, that doesn’t account for nearly 60 units of housing lost to these demolitions.

And according to city staff tonight, a one per cent vacancy rate equals about 100 vacant apartments. So a 0.6 per cent vacancy rate would equal about 60 vacant apartments.

In other words, we may actually as of now have a vacancy rate of about 0.0 per cent.

Author: Paul Dechene

Paul Dechene is 5'10'' tall and he was born in a place. He's not there now. He's sitting in front of his computer writing his bio for this blog. He has a song stuck in his head. It's "Girl From Ipanema", thanks for asking. You can follow Paul on Twitter at @pauldechene and get live updates during city council meetings and other city events at @PDcityhall.

19 thoughts on “A Worrying Housing Stat”

  1. Well, when you rent a mayor that is gonna get fed and housed on whoever’s dollar for X # of weeks in London, England this summer worrying about boxing, ( not Canadian women’s boxing either ), and not Regina housing concerns, what do you expect?

  2. I remember Bill Hicke’s sports store was in the Black Building. That place was cool. You walked down narrow stairs into the WW I-era basement with the pipes showing for the hockey equipment, not that I played hocked, like the Prime Minister, but that’s where it was, and that’s what I remember. I keep forgetting this is about housing as well. I had no idea there were that many suites up above. Regina is just ‘so thriving’ yet we have s many downtown vacancies the buildings just have to be torn down.

  3. 60 apartments? That’s crazy. I do feel like there is more than that vacant, HOWEVER, most of these being $1,100 one bedrooms and $1,400 two bedrooms that most people can’t afford anyways.

  4. @ anonymous: Anyone can choose not to rent out a unit they own; I think there are more than that too.There are two massive old houses behind mine that were quietly purchased, had a coat of paint slapped on, and have been vacant for at least two years. I know that the CMHC asks you if you have any vacant units; I don’t know if they ask you how many units you own and choose not to put on the market. On the other hand, I think that all the shitty plywood construction going up at the city’s edges will eventually lead to a housing glut. I just can’t believe we have bodies to fill all those units. I also can’t believe anyone would look at one of those plywood husks under construction, and say “Honey, I love it!” but obviously they do and I’m wrong.

  5. I think there is something fundamentally wrong with the housing market in Regina. Properties are listed at astronomical prices when agents claim there is a demand (regardless of quality), and those over-priced, low quality homes/condos sit on the market for months — meaning that people who could possibly afford to buy are stuck going over their price point (“mortgage poor”), or waiting for months and taking up space in the rental market.
    My fiancee and I looked for a house for six months (going several times a week, seeing anything in any area in our budget) and it was dismal. We eventually had to buy a bank repo that took over 2 months to simply CLEAN and make livable. And that was $200,000.
    We have several other friends that have been looking and there are just no options for starter houses here. Unless you want to pay $230,000 for an 800 sq foot, poorly done flip.
    Once (or IF) the housing market corrects itself and the prices come down to a reasonable level, the market will open up. In the mean time: why isn’t Saskatchewan Housing offering incentives for potential homeowners? I know the province has a program for Francophone first time home owners that offers loans for down payments (I know this because this was one of the loans the previous owner of our home defaulted on). Why isn’t the province taking a serious look at this as an option? Why isn’t the province doing ANYTHING about it? We can complain to the city, but as anyone who was at the council meeting knows, this is out of the city’s political jurisdiction (which is insane, right? How could a housing crisis NOT be within the city’s jurisdiction?)
    It’s a sad day when citizens rally and beg their council for help, yet nothing is done. These people are going to be homeless. Someone has to be accountable and it makes me want to pull my hair out in frustration that no one is taking responsibility for this.

  6. #4 “I just can’t believe we have bodies to fill all those units.” Totally agree. Ever since the NW started pushing out towards Lumsden I’ve been like, “who? what? where are they coming from?” There can’t possibly be this many people moving out of their parents’ basements and starting 3-child families overnight in $500K homes, and our pop. hasn’t grown that much.

    I think there’s a big underestimation as to the number of 30-somethings who’ve thrived off big inheritances lately; I have no idea if that will continue. I don’t know how so many 2-3 kid families in their 30s with Audi wagons and 2-week vacays to Maui can do it. Maybe I underestimate how many ppl still have farms in their families.

  7. Actually, we are growing pretty fast.
    From 2001 to 2011 Regina’s population has grown from 178,225 to 199,254, with a Census Metropolitan Area of approximately 216,534 (third fastest growing in Canada). So yeah, there are people in need of housing.

    In regards to people being able to afford it, for an example of the $ out there skim through the publicly available payrolls of the Crowns. And private beats that.

  8. Carle – I so agree. I look at that “fancy” junk construction and just shake my head. I’m friends with some contractors and they say those homes are the most poorly put together, crap they’ve ever seen and would never live in them. You walk into them and everythign is cheap and plastic…except for fancy counter tops. Much better to buy a soundly made older home.

    There are also many empty rentals. The landlords failed to realize how money and time intensive being a landlord can be. So they leave their places empty.

    I used to look at homes, but refuse to pay a fortune for the junk in this city. There is nothing for starter homes, just cheapo flips, bad basements and bad neighbourhoods within my price range.

    I’m thinking of moving partially for this reason. There’s little career opportunity here and no place to live.

  9. Career opportunities aside (great for some here, not so much for others), Saskatchewan is now about the middle of the pack for housing prices, so if you’re thinking of moving to Alberta, Manitoba, BC, Ontario etc. you’ll likely find a similar situation, if not worse. Our housing prices were way too low, with the improved economy they’ve adjusted, and hopefully they will not go any higher, though a slight increase wouldn’t surprise me.

  10. When will someone do a story about the Regina Housing Authority and advise on their status? I would like to know how many units they administer; how long is the wait list; etc. On another note, my parents bought a small house built by the Muttardt Foundation in the early 1970s. It was a foundation set up for low income people so they could buy a home. I know they built or established homes in Swift Current and Regina, and were based out of Edmonton? Here you go Prairie Dog – a story idea for you. How about reporting on ideas or solutions for this crisis. I told my husband that if we win the big lottery Friday, I am going to help out people just like the Muttardt Foundation did. This housing situation is insane!

  11. Bronymous – I disagree. Having friends who just moved out here from Victoria, they complained about the cost of renting here and what you get for it.

    A friend of mine recently moved to Calgary because renting there is more affordable than here, there’s more opportunity and better transit.

    And I have many friends in Manitoba who’ve been able to buy very nice starter homes for a song.

  12. Cowardly Lion: Nice catch. That’s really funny.

    Actually, not only was the mayor absent from that meeting (he was in Bangkok), but editor Whitworth was informed by security that he wasn’t allowed to take pictures of the meeting. We wanted to get a photo of the crowd in the gallery but apparently, photos are only allowed at the mayor’s pleasure, and with the mayor away….

  13. The confusion regarding relative housing costs can be summarized this way. We are the middle of the pack as far as house sale prices (although it does seem to be unusually crappy stuff here as pointed out by other posters). We are more expensive for renters than places like Victoria, Calgary and even Toronto. I would also say that having rented in other cities, the crap that people try to rent out here is far worse condition than what you see other places. People only take it because there is no other choice.

  14. #5 Colleen – I agree with you and share your frustration, but I don’t think that the loan idea in itself is a good long-term strategy.

    I live in Stoon, and we have the 5% of your down payment loan program thingy (sorry, I can’t brain today) and the more I look into it the more alarmed I get. I’ve probably said this on here before, but if you have to get a loan for the down payment, you can’t afford the house. Effectively, it’s turning a 5% down mortgage into a 0% down mortgage, with the added caveat that you have to pay the loan back in 1 year (I think) on top of your mortgage obligations. Fortunately, I am very very lucky in that we have an OK rental at an OK price, so we can afford to rent for the foreseeable future. But I am worried at what will happen when interest rates go up and everyone gets squeezed.

    It’s very frustrating but I’m not sure that making more cheap credit available will solve the housing crisis.

  15. I’m always iffy about loan programs as well — I don’t have statistics to back this, but I have the feeling that it increases house prices (and allows sellers who are sometimes speculators/landlords) to cash in to what amounts to a government grant with absolutely no paper trail.

    I have the same feeling about social assistance and housing allowances – that this money goes from the government, passes briefly through the wallet of a person on social assistance, then right into the bank account of a slumlord. No one ever looks at where the money ends up (and the quantities! yikes! and what we get for that money?). When we think of social assistance, we fixate on the person on social assistance. I think if you counted up all the social assistance money that goes to the owners of shitty housing and balanced that against the controls we put on these houses (none) it would immediately and forever shift our focus.

    Then! Because these houses are (or should be) worth next to nothing, the owners are able to sell them at a higher price to people who have gotten into that loan program.

  16. #11 – Classic Community Living (aka CCL Homes) are housing developers that have a very affordable home ownership model.

    Their website doesn’t have as much information it could. The summary is that they build affordable entry-level homes, and provide a mortgage subsidy that reduces over time. It allows the purchaser to get into the home with a low initial monthly payment an work up to a larger (full) payment over 10 years.

    http://www.cclhomes.com/availablehomes.html

  17. Ooh! Carle! I have strong opinions about that as well! (It’s too bad I don’t live in Regina, I think I would enjoy having a terrific bitchfest with you about this. Anyways.)

    Another huge WTF I have about the program is that eligible household income is ~44k to ~75k. The eligible house price?? 180k to 280k. Holy ripoff Batman! Prudent mortgage is what, 3x yearly income? 75,000 x 3 = 225,000. So now we have people with 0 down, and it seems that some of them at least would be borrowing over 4x their household income. I mean, hopefully banks are erring on the side of caution, but if the city and CMHC are guaranteeing things, their risk is nil. Anyways! Let’s all hope that NOBODY LOSES THEIR JOB.

  18. Wow. Now I don’t feel so bad about paying $180000 for a condo in 2008. I was pissed because it lost $30000 in value within a year, but now I see it could be worse. I could have bought now and been fleeced to the point were I could have been made into winter jackets. I rent my condo out now, because I realized that living in Regina isn’t that much better than lying facedown in a ditch and moved to Toronto. With a nugatory vacancy rate like there is now my place will be rented and profitable for decades.

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