When Peter Dowdy, 35, and his wife were on the hunt for a temporary rental apartment in Vancouver at the beginning of the pandemic, he couldn't believe his luck.
The couple had sold their apartment and were looking for a six-month lease while they searched for a new home to buy.
"Analysts claimed that rental rates had dropped significantly by about a third or so, and that was pretty consistent with our own experience," Dowdy said.
They managed to pay $2,750 per month to rent a home that had cost $3,500 pre-pandemic. The landlord also threw in a $2,750 move-in incentive.
At the end of the lease in June, when Dowdy and his wife moved into their newly purchased home, he noticed the apartment was listed for $3,000 with no incentives.
Housing analysts say Dowdy's experience is indicative of a broader trend across Canada and Metro Vancouver in particular, especially as Canada prepares to reopen its borders.
Sites like Liv.rent, Padmapper and Rentals.ca say the average rental rate in Metro Vancouver is still lower than it was before the pandemic, but those numbers are starting to climb.
Highest vacancy rate since the '90s
Eric Bond, a senior specialist with the Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation, says the pandemic caused a decrease in demand from key renter groups like international immigrants and service industry workers.
Bond says it also brought on more supply as some homes were converted from short-term vacation rentals into long-term rentals.
As of last October, the vacancy rate in Metro Vancouver had risen to 2.6 per cent from 1.1 per cent.
"That's actually the highest vacancy rate that we've seen in Metro Vancouver since 1999," Bond said.