Mass Transit Fuels Vancouver Home Sales

Posted by Rick Clarke on Monday, March 25th, 2013 at 7:11pm.

If you're planning to sell your Greater Vancouver home this year, it pays to live near public transportation.  As more and more people shift their home buying dreams to places outside the city's boundaries, a top question on their minds is, "How close is it to the SkyTrain?"

When you list your Burnaby, New Westminster or Chilliwack home for sale, don't be surprised if potential buyers are more interested in commuting times than they are in square footage and bathrooms.

Every minute -- and every step -- counts when it calculating daily commute times.   If you don't regularly use public transportation yourself, get a primer from your neighbors or real estate agent so you can answer buyers' questions with confidence.

Strong Demand for Homes in Greater Vancouver

Interest in Vancouver housing in close proximity to public transit remains high, according to a February 26 article published in The Vancouver Sun. Scott Brown, senior vice president of Colliers International Residential Marketing predicts that the demand for homes near public transportation is expected to stay strong throughout the year.

The fourth-quarter Marketshare report on multi-family residential real estate conducted by Colliers states that transit-oriented housing in Vancouver is appealing to consumers in large part due to cost-efficiency.  In the report, Brown points to the affordability factor as the driving force behind the housing market demand, noting that “the first-time buyer in select areas in Metropolitan Vancouver will continue to be challenged by affordability.”

Live in Surrey, Work in Downtown Vancouver

Housing in the Vancouver suburbs is far more affordable than that of its city counterpart.  For this reason, Brown predicts a growing trend of people moving to the suburbs, as opposed to urban populations.  Furthermore, residents of suburban communities demand close, convenient access to public transportation that will carry them to the city, where most of the jobs exist, not to mention entertainment and recreational activities.

Buyers want to know:  "If I work late or have dinner in the city with friends, how do I get home at night?"

And with Vancouver’s current dismal affordability status – Demographia ranks it the second to least affordable city in the world, after Hong Kong – consumers are more likely than ever to gravitate toward the more moderately-priced suburbs.

New Housing Developments, New Subway Projects

Real estate investors and developers may be interested in a proposed $2.8 billion subway along Vancouver’s Broadway Corridor.  On March 11, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson announced his interest in building the subway in order to help relieve Broadway’s heavy traffic congestion.  Robertson’s proposal was met with mixed reviews – opponents are fearful of the subway’s potential negative impact on small businesses.  Skeptics are quick to cite the devastating effect the Canada Line construction project had on Cambie Street independent shop owners.

Baby-Boomers and Helpful Parents

According to the Colliers report, the consumers who are most interested in cost-effective transit-oriented housing include baby boom generation individuals seeking to downsize, and parents who are contributing to fund the purchase of their children’s first homes.  Real estate investors, particularly new immigrant Chinese buyers, are also among those groups demanding housing in close proximity to public transportation.  According to Brown Chinese investors “have become very selective” and are focusing their attention on purchasing homes “concentrated in a couple of select areas, especially around transit.” 

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