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Most in Metro Vancouver would choose big house, big lot in the suburbs over luxury apartment - survey

By Tiffany Crawford, Vancouver Sun March 26, 2013 10:14 AM

Most in Metro Vancouver would choose big house, big lot in the suburbs over luxury apartment - survey

VANCOUVER - If I had a million dollars ... I’d buy you a house. (And a new survey suggests I would probably buy you that house with big yard in the suburbs.)

When asked what type of housing they’d buy if given $1 million, 34 per cent of renters and property owners in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley surveyed would rather have a large house and property in a suburban setting, compared with just 12 per cent who would opt for a luxury apartment in the city, according to a Mustel Research Group poll.

The poll, conducted for, a real estate search website owned by Glacier Media Inc., surveyed 561 adults between Feb. 28 and March 12.

Twenty per cent would buy a small detached house and 10 per cent favoured a townhouse or duplex in the city, while 23 per cent would just keep the cash and rent.

Vancouver, Langley and Burnaby were the most popular places to live.

“We were a bit surprised that, despite all the talk about densification and walkability, despite the fact that condos have taken over from houses in many parts of our region, the overwhelming choice was for a large house on a big suburban property,” said Elizabeth Wilson, content editor for REW.

Another surprising find, she said, was that the younger folks — or the so-called GenYs — were the most keen to own a big house and property.

The poll shows 47 per cent of those aged 18 to 34 preferred a large house and property over all other options, while most of those over 55 chose to keep the money and rent.

Families with children were the hottest to buy and least likely to keep the money, “They know a million bucks doesn’t go that far when you’ve got kids,” said Wilson.

The survey shows big differences depending on where people live, and indicates suburbanites are more likely than city slickers to desire the white picket fence life. More than half of the respondents who said they’d buy a big house in the burbs already live in Surrey, Delta and Langley.

Of the folks who live in the city of Vancouver, only just over 10 per cent said they’d choose a big house and property. Most of the Vancouver respondents chose either the cash or the small detached house in the city.

Those most likely to keep the money lived in Abbotsford and Chilliwack or the North Shore.

As for the location, Langley was the winner for the big house and property while Vancouver was the main choice for those who wanted a condo.

For a $1 million you could buy, for example, a small two-bedroom house in Kitsilano or a four-bedroom house in East Vancouver with a tiny backyard. according to

In Langley, however, the most popular location among respondents, a million bucks could buy you five-acre farm with a four-bedroom house.

Meanwhile, the Real Estate Consumer Confidence survey released Tuesday also shows more than half (54 per cent) of respondents think that it’s a good time to buy a home in Metro Vancouver, up eight percentage points over last year. The same survey in March 2012 found that only 46 per cent of consumers felt good about buying.

As consumer confidence about buying increases, sentiment towards selling homes continues to slide, the survey shows, with 63 per cent of respondents saying it’s a bad time to sell.

The slow but steady trend toward buying supports the view that Metro Vancouver is still experiencing a buyer’s market, according to the survey.

Of the 54 per cent of residents who think the time is right to buy a home, 23 per cent said the main reason for their optimism was that prices have come down.

Ian Martin, general manager of said the findings indicate that for the first time in a year more residents feel that now is the right time to buy.

“We also loved our million dollar question, as we now know that most people prefer a large home in the suburbs over a luxury condo in the heart of a city.”

The survey has a 4.1 per cent margin of error. The regions included in the survey are: Vancouver; North Shore; Burnaby/New Westminster; Tri-Cities/Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows; Richmond; Surrey/Delta/Langley east to Aldergrove; and Abbotsford/Chilliwack.

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