Vancouver home prices over a century

Call me shallow, but whenever I look at historic copies of The Vancouver Sun I always check out the old ads to see how much houses were selling for.

It never ceases to amaze me how cheap they were back in the old days, even with inflation factored in.

The Sun was filled with full-page real estate ads during the 1912 boom, but following the First World War bust real estate listings moved to the classified section.

The paper often had four to six pages of real estate listings on the weekend, and for many years had a “Livable Homes” section filled with stories about how to fix and build stuff.

In 1912, a lot at Seventh and Blenheim in Kitsilano was for sale for $4,000, lots in Coquitlam and Port Mann could be had for $250, and a lot in West Vancouver was $550.

The Sun’s owner, John P. McConnell, used his influence to take out a big ad to sell off his 82-acre farm in Chilliwack for $425 an acre (about $35,000).

In 1917, there were virtually no real estate listings. But in 1922, the paper was once again brimming with listings like a 14-room house on Hornby ($4,750), a Point Grey bungalow ($3,950) and a new home in Shaughnessy near the King Edward car line ($7,900).

Today houses on Drummond and Belmont Drive in Point Grey are sold for millions of dollars, but in 1927 you could purchase a lot on either for $1,600 or $1,650. You could also snap up a small house in Kits for $2,500 and one in Kerrisdale for $5,500.

Prices dipped in the Depression. In 1932, a small cottage in Capitol Hill in Burnaby was for sale for $550, while a five-room house at Victoria and 24th in East Van was $1,000. A bungalow on Heather Street in Shaughnessy was $4,500.

Many of the real estate ads in 1937 list a price “and assume,” which means you’d be taking over somebody else’s mortgage. A listing for 975 West 10th was for $3,000, and breaks down as “$1,000 [down] and assume.” A home at 2366 Cornwall across from Kits Beach was for sale for $4,500. Surprisingly there were plenty of listings in 1942, in the middle of the Second World War. A home on Odlum in East Van was $1,400, while one at 4449 Osler in Shaughnessy was $5,500. The Osler listing notes that taxes were $143.

Listings picked up considerably after the war, and spread out to the suburbs. A waterfront house in West Vancouver was for sale for $12,000 in 1947, the same time a house on Grand Boulevard in North Van was for sale for $7,350. A bungalow in Deep Cove was $3,950.

Prices jumped a bit in 1952, when 3490 West 41st was for sale for $14,700. A home at 2731 Quebec in Mount Pleasant was $5,900, while a house near Moody Park in New Westminster was $11,000.

Real estate prices continued to rise in 1957, when a four-bedroom house in Dunbar was $14,900, but you could still pick up a house at Main and 25th for $7,500. The real boom was in the 1960s, when a three-bedroom home at Hawthorne Park in Delta was $12,900 (“$999 down, $99 a month”) and four bedrooms at the Westlynn Terrace development in North Van cost $17,850.

The classifieds in 1967 were huge, about 28 pages on Saturdays. A new four bedroom in Oakridge was $60,000, while a home at Kingsway and Slocan was $14,900. The sellers of a waterfront home in West Van were asking a staggering $135,000.

Alas, the address isn’t listed, so we don’t know where it was. But a similar waterfront home today would cost you $3 million to $5 million.

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