New program to encourage rental housing construction

There’s a new incentive program in Vancouver to encourage developers to build purpose-built rental housing.  There are some seemingly attractive aspects of this program but developers seem more focused on tidier short term profits and these are more quickly realized building condo towers.

Incentives under the new policy will likely be similar to those of the STIR program which included:

•  rental property assessment (on rental units only);
•  development cost levy waiver (on rental units only);
•  parking requirement reductions (on rental units only);
•  discretion on unit size;
•  increased density; and
•  expedited permit processing.

Whether this program will be enough to entice developers to build new rental units is a matter for debate. One thing is certain and that’s there is a shortage of affordable rental housing in this city.

How to Improve Housing Options in Metro Vancouver

First post of 2012 so it seems fitting to start with a list of ideas on how to increase housing options. This article appeared recently in the Vancouver Sun and the writer makes a number of useful, if perhaps optimistic, suggestions on how home ownership might be made more attainable in Metro Vancouver.

The simplest suggestion mentioned to implement would be encouraging and allowing higher density (innovative design and more compact units). This would increase opportunities for people to remain in urban areas without breaking the bank. The main hurdle here seems to be nearby neighbors who fear their property values will fall as a result of additional density being built close by.

Another idea presented relates to having municipalities reduce the charges and fees (development cost charges) they assess for granting building permits as this is a major cost. One would hope that savings here would trickle down to property buyers.

Finally, higher density developments should first be considered near good public transit and the requirements for minimum number of parking spaces per property should be abandoned in some instances.

So that’s the wish list. Do I think any of these are likely to happen any time soon? No, but dreams are healthy.

I welcome any questions you may have about selling or buying.
Feel free to comment here or contact me directly.

Vancouver’s Olympic Village – Worth $1400 per square foot?

According to a recent story in the Vancouver Sun, Olympic Village The Birds By Myfanwy MacLeodcondo prices are set to be slashed. The actual revised prices will be decided on by the receiver on January 15, 2011 and the units will then be put back on the market shortly thereafter. In May 2010, the original asking “price per square foot” for some of these units was a lofty $1400. Speculation suggests that the new asking price will be around $1000 per square foot. While a substantial reduction, is this enough of a decrease to lure buyers back to the project?

The bad press surrounding the workmanship on these buildings and the debacle regarding the City of Vancouver’s investment/involvement in the development have not helped. For better or worse, all of the residents of Vancouver have become stakeholders in this development.

The biggest barrier to achieving these luxury prices may well be the intermingling of social housing in this project. This has been a hot topic of late in Vancouver and it remains to be seen if buyers are willing to at once pay top dollar and live next door to individuals receiving social assistance. Stay tuned…