Burnaby vs. East Vancouver

A customer asked, “Why are the prices of detached houses in Burnaby and East Vancouver similar, or even higher in Burnaby? Implicitly, how can Burnaby’s property prices compare to Vancouver?”

Thank you for the question; it’s indeed an interesting and important one.

Upon comprehensive consideration, the price difference between Burnaby and East Vancouver is not as significant, as they both have their own advantages and disadvantages. Factors such as geographical location, transportation, natural scenery, demographic composition, education quality, urban planning policies, housing types, and social security may all influence property prices. Under the influence of these factors, the property prices in Burnaby and East Vancouver may differ.

Geographical Location: Burnaby’s commercial center and sports and entertainment facilities are more developed and continuously evolving. Burnaby’s Metropolis at Metrotown is one of Canada’s top three shopping malls. Burnaby also boasts the newly built large shopping centers like Brentwood Amazing Brentwood and Lougheed Town Centre at the junction with Coquitlam, surpassing East Vancouver in these aspects. East Vancouver is relatively more residential-focused, potentially contributing to Burnaby’s property prices being not lower than those in East Vancouver. Crystal Mall is Burnaby’s largest Chinese shopping mall; Burnaby also has more restaurants, especially Chinese ones, compared to East Vancouver.

Transportation: Burnaby and East Vancouver are adjacent and serve as the center and transportation hub of the Greater Vancouver area. Driving provides convenient access to surrounding cities, and it takes only 20 minutes by SkyTrain to reach downtown Vancouver.

Natural Scenery: Burnaby offers attractions like Barnet Marine Park, Burnaby Mountain, Deer Lake, and Burnaby Lake, outshining East Vancouver. Residential areas in East Vancouver are more densely populated and lack large parks. Burnaby’s natural preservation area, Burnaby Lake, alone, exceeds the total area of all parks in East Vancouver. For golf enthusiasts, Burnaby has golf courses such as Riverway Golf and Burnaby Mountain Golf Course.

Demographic Composition: East Vancouver has many families of old immigrants from Guangdong; in recent years, the proportion of young Western families has also increased significantly. Burnaby has nearly half of its population being Chinese and of Chinese descent, with a high level of education. Burnaby is home to renowned institutions such as Simon Fraser University (SFU) and the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). Student housing needs exert pressure on housing supply and contribute to upward pressure on property prices.

Education: East Vancouver’s high school rankings are decent but lack top-notch schools. At first glance, the quality of Burnaby’s high schools does not differ much from those in East Vancouver. However, those in the know understand that Burnaby’s high schools outperform East Vancouver in terms of admissions to prestigious U.S. universities. For example, North Burnaby Secondary School offers many AP courses, allowing students to choose freely. Almost every year, graduates are admitted to prestigious universities such as Harvard. Moscrop Secondary School, located opposite BCIT, had students accepted into Yale and other top schools last year. These achievements are only comparable to some private schools in West Vancouver.

Urban Planning Policies: Vancouver is planning to implement a policy allowing the construction of four units on a standard 33-foot-wide lot, with an average area of less than 1000 square feet per unit. East Vancouver mostly consists of standard 33-foot-wide lots, indicating potential issues with crowded streets and parking. Burnaby, on the other hand, has mostly 7000-8000 square foot large lots, and detached houses are predominant. Burnaby’s more lenient floor area ratio (FAR) requirements allow for the easy construction of homes exceeding 5000 square feet on a large lot.

Property Tax: Vancouver announced an increase of over 10% in property taxes this year, while Burnaby almost has the smallest property tax increase in the Greater Vancouver area. Burnaby is a debt-free city, with an annual surplus of 100 million Canadian dollars.

Detached House Price Increase: Look at the comparison of detached house prices in East Vancouver and Burnaby in January 2023, as well as the price trends over the past 10 years, 5 years, and 1 year. East Vancouver’s benchmark price for a detached house is $1,664,900, with a decrease of 9.3% in the past year, an increase of 9.0% over the past 5 years, and an increase of 104.2% over the past 10 years. Burnaby’s benchmark price for a detached house in the south is $1,988,600, with a decrease of 7.9% in the past year, an increase of 11.5% over the past 5 years, and an increase of 106.0% over the past 10 years. In both benchmark price and increase, the differences between East Vancouver, Burnaby South, and Burnaby North are not significant, and there is no need to worry about not getting a good price when selling a house.

Social Security: Vancouver’s crime index is 114, Burnaby’s is 77, and Richmond’s is 76. Burnaby is safer than Vancouver. Many Chinese people have a bias against East Vancouver: messy and poor security. However, Burnaby has many quiet and elegant communities, such as Deer Lake and Burnaby Mountain. East Vancouver also has communities like Killarney and Renfrew, which provide a living experience not inferior to the West, with lush greenery, cherry blossoms in spring, and maple leaves in autumn, especially suitable for retirement. Overall, there is no city with significantly better overall security in Greater Vancouver, and since the cities are relatively close to each other, there is no absolute safety anywhere.

Taking all these factors into consideration, both Burnaby and East Vancouver are excellent residential choices, and the difference in property prices is not that great. Property prices are influenced by various factors, and the above are just some possible reasons. Further analysis is needed for specific situations.

Gary Gao, licensed Realtor® with Grand Central Realty, a licensed real estate brokerage in BC. Gary is also the principal of CitiDesign Build Inc., which is not affiliated with Grand Central Realty. CitiDesign and Gary are licensed builders in BC. Contact Gary.

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