(Sardaka/Wikimedia Commons)

Rental-only zones in B.C. could result in lower land prices: experts

Older properties in areas are slated for higher density are attractive to buyers who want to profit

A proposal that would give cities in B.C. the power to zone land for rental housing could moderate the price of affected properties, experts say.

Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore, who led a committee on housing strategy for the Union of B.C. Municipalities, said the legislation tabled last month by the provincial government would give cities the authority to protect existing rental properties and calm speculation.

Currently, older properties in areas that are slated for higher density are attractive to buyers who want to make a significant profit because they can be turned into high-earning condominiums or houses for sale, he said.

“They’re trying to sell the potential in the increased value. And that increased value doesn’t allow for rental to make financial sense,” Moore said, adding the return on rental housing in the short term isn’t as great as units that are sold to individual buyers.

Cameron Muir, chief economist with the B.C. Real Estate Association, said rental housing gets “crowded out” for other uses, which is often ownership-type properties that offer revenue for developers even as land prices rise.

“If you’re going to build any kind of development, you start off with what the end product is going to be and what the market can bear and then you work yourself back from all the costs and the residual value is in the land,” he said.

“If it’s zoned rental only, of course the value will increase … but it will only be limited to the sphere of the rental market.”

READ MORE: New mortgage rules still driving Fraser Valley home sales down: broker

READ MORE: New rental building in Surrey sees nearly 2,000 applicants for 97 units

Brian McCauley, president and CEO of Concert Properties, agreed the legislation would impact property prices, but added it isn’t necessarily an incentive for developers to build more rental.

Concert has just under 5,000 rental units across B.C. and Ontario, and plans to develop more.

Examples of better incentives include support from the province or federal government to finance new developments, McCauley said.

“You can’t get as high of a financing rate so you are investing more capital in building a rental apartment building,” he said.

For Concert, McCauley said financial gains are sought by increasing and maintaining a large portfolio of rental housing.

Funding that’s becoming available through the federal government’s new national housing strategy and B.C.’s promise for $6 billion toward housing development are also intriguing opportunities, McCauley said.

Cities can also create incentives by increasing density for new rental units but Moore said those opportunities only come along when a developer wants to rezone or change the designated us of the land.

Despite record housing starts in many communities, Moore said a continuing shortage of rental housing illustrates why cities need more financial and regulatory authority.

“As a city or as a developer, if you can pull all these (incentives) together … you can start to make rental and non-market rental a viable thing to build,” Moore said.

Muir said rental-only zoning is a good policy, but cautioned that it will be up to municipalities on how it is used and any new homes will still take years to be planned and built.

Linda Givetash, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Central Coast Regional District swears in new Board of Directors

There are three new faces representing our region and two returning directors

VIDEO: Black horse signals ‘sign of peace’ for Tsilhqot’in Nation

Justin Trudeau rides black horse provided by Cooper family

Trudeau exonerates hanged war chiefs of 1864 on B.C. Tsilhqot’in title lands

Prime minister rides horseback with Chief Joe Alphonse, TNG Chairman, to Xeni Gwet’in meeting place

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

Rain, snowfall warnings in effect across B.C.

B.C.’s Interior set to get hit with snow while the Lower Mainland is expected to see more rain

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Canadians more prepared for weather disaster than financial one: poll

RBC recommends people check their bank app as often as the weather app

B.C. dog owner sues after pet killed in beaver trap

A Kamloops man is suing the operator of a trapline north of the city after his dog died

Most Read