How badly is demand for (relatively) affordable housing outstripping supply in Metro Vancouver? You just have to look at one recently listed rental unit in Burnaby to find out.
Managing broker Keaton Bessey listed his client’s one-bedroom condo at 4560 Brentwood Boulevard for just under $2,400 a month last week — and the apartment has had more than 180 inquiries so far.
“This one’s getting a lot more attention than we normally get,” he said. “We thought we already priced it high, and it’s clearly underpriced.”
Very possible—also frightening.
36 people booked over 3 days for showings.
I expect this will get an offer above ask.
— Keaton Bessey (@kbessey) June 17, 2023
The unit is new and close to shops, restaurants, The Amazing Brentwood, and a SkyTrain station. The unit has a mountain view, and the building has a fitness room and a patio. Plus, the apartment’s pet-friendly. But it’s still a 500-square-foot one-bedroom. And it’s listed for more than what many workers in the province see on their paycheque every month.
“It seems completely nuts, but as far as the market is concerned that’s what the rate is,” Bessey said.
The unit’s 36 viewing time slots filled up within an hour, and Bessey now has 15 official applications to rent it. They’re all couples without kids, with partners working in a variety of professions — from engineers to a pilot to an office administrator. Some have bid more than the asking rent price. Only two of the applications include pets.
To file a tenancy application with Bessey’s company, Greater Vancouver Tenant and Property Management Ltd., the prospective tenants must meet an income threshold of three times the monthly rent in take-home pay.
So a couple would need to bring in at least $7,200 after tax monthly to rent the Brentwood unit.
While Bessey understands that many people pay more than a third of their income toward rent (in fact, one of every five people in Greater Vancouver pays more than 50%), he doesn’t want to rent to a tenant whose budget will be stretched, because he says it leads to stress for the tenant and risk of non-payment for the landlord.
Once a prospective tenant meets the income test, Bessey’s company will call references and do other checks before choosing an applicant.
“We’re looking at their credit, checking the court registry to make sure they’re not in a big divorce or civil suit that could jeopardize their future ability to pay the rent,” he said. “If we get through that process then they’re approved. If you’re qualified, it’s a lottery system.”
According to BC law, a landlord cannot refuse a tenant based on their family status but can restrict the number of people occupying a unit. For a one-bedroom, Bessey caps the number of occupants at three.
The search for housing in Metro Vancouver has been getting fiercer since the pandemic as average rents continue to climb.
According to the latest national rent report from Zumper, the median rent for a new tenant in a one-bedroom Vancouver apartment reached an all-time high of $2,700 per month in June. That’s a whopping 20% increase from the same time last year.
Across Metro Vancouver, liv.rent pegs the average price of a one-bedroom rental at $2,330.
So either way you slice it, the Brentwood one-bedroom is a new unit that’s either affordable or right in the middle of the market — and prospective tenants want to live there.
Bessey wonders if the interest in the apartment has to do with rising interest rates or downsizing due to layoffs, but he doesn’t have a clear answer. He only predicts rents will continue to rise during the summer as tenants try to lock in a place before students return to classes in the fall.
“I just hope we start building more homes soon,” Bessey said.