If you want housing affordability – move to Edmonton !

Edmonton enjoys the most affordable housing of Canada’s six major metropolitan regions, according to a study released Monday.

The International Housing Affordability Survey looks at housing in cities in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand along with Hong Kong. It found that among Canadian cities with populations above one million, Edmonton has the most affordable housing.

Windsor was the most affordable market of any size, while Vancouver was by far the priciest market in the country. In fact, Vancouver outranked every city in the survey except Hong Kong, topping markets like New York City, San Francisco, Sydney and London, England.

Conducted by the public policy website Demographia and based on data from the third quarter of 2011, the study ranks cities by their “median multiple” — the median house price in an area divided by gross median household income. The survey labels any median multiple score over 3.0 as “unaffordable,” and a score above 5.0 as “severely unaffordable.”

Of the six biggest markets in Canada, Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa-Gatineau earned the designation “moderately unaffordable,” and housing markets in Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto scored as “severely unaffordable.”

The study, co-authored by American public policy consultant Wendell Cox and Kiwi real estate developer Hugh Pavletich, describes a sharp decrease in housing affordability over the last decade in the markets surveyed. It argues that median multiple scores should lie between two and three, but restrictive land-use regulations boost the price of housing, particularly in the U.K., New Zealand and Australia. The report classed all five of Australia’s major metropolitan areas as “severely unaffordable.”

Cox and Pavletich specially denounce urban growth boundaries, which restrict the amount of land available for new housing development in places like Auckland, New Zealand and Portland, Ore. The authors advocate repealing such legislation where it exists to restore housing affordability.

Cities in America, where the housing market plummeted in 2008, earned the most affordable scores. Detroit led all major cities with a score of 1.4, followed by Atlanta at 1.9 and then cities like Las Vegas, Cleveland and Phoenix.

Hong Kong, at 12.6, scored highest, followed by Vancouver at 10.6 and Sydney at 9.2. Melbourne, which scored 8.4, and the British district of Plymouth & Devon, at seven, rounded out the five least-affordable major markets surveyed.

Source: Lewis Kelly, Edmonton Journal

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