Thu. May 19th, 2022

Opinion: Land assemblies expand in the middle of the debate – not just over homeowners who do not want to sell

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The detached house looks almost comical — a sad Vancouver Special sitting in vain on an overgrown plot, sandwiched between two apartment buildings under construction.

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The odd scenario at Southwest Marine Dr. however, is becoming more and more common in Metro Vancouver as real estate agents are busy trying to put together land collections for new condominium complexes by convincing a number of adjacent homeowners to sell.

Land assemblies are expanding in the midst of some debate – and not just because they present thorny situations for homeowners who refuse to sell, either because they like things the way they are or want more money. Housing specialists say land assemblies can also break up existing communities and, in the long run, house prices rise.

The pressure to find land to build housing on has been increasing in the core of Canadian cities. “The Greater Vancouver area is growing while being effectively squeezed between the ocean and the mountains – there is simply nowhere to go,” says FCT, a Canadian real estate firm, in some cases providing insurance to rural communities.

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“Because land prices are affordable in cities, homeowners with grouped homes can group prices much higher than they could by selling individually,” reads a statement on the FCT website. “Any contiguous group of properties can become part of a land collection, but most often land assemblies include properties along or near a major transportation line.”

Professor of Geography at the University of BC, Emeritus David Ley, author of Millionaire Migrants, says city councils have rapidly re-regulated land throughout Metro Vancouver to respond to increased demand for housing, either to live in or as an investment. The re-regulation encourages national assemblies, which can inspire argumentation.

“Partly (a land collection is) controversial because its biggest output has been luxury apartments that do not serve local needs for affordable prices. And the cost of land collection is forcing land prices up more generally because it raises a homeowner’s expectations of what they will receive. ”

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Land assemblies may also play a role in destabilizing existing neighborhoods, Ley said. “I suppose they reduce affordable prices.” One reason, he said, is that some older single-family homes are being swept up in country collections for expensive new apartments that might once have included affordable secondary suites.

It is relatively rare in land assemblies to encounter “orphaned homes” where owners do not sell with the rest of their neighbors, Ley said.

“I suppose greed is not the only reason people refuse to sell. But once a home is stranded with houses on both sides, I guess its value would or should fall significantly. ”

Vancouver real estate agent David Hutchinson, who has attended land meetings in Vancouver, Coquitlam and elsewhere, said he has run into several holdings over the course of his career, including homeowners who do not want to sell their detached house, just like everyone else. house on the block is snapped up around them.

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It can often be difficult for brokers to simply track down legitimate owners. He has knocked on doors and talked to people who initially say they do not own the property in question when it turns out they actually do.

“It is difficult to find out their strategy. Everyone thinks the last man standing gets the most money. But we see that is not always true, ”Hutchinson said.

No one was available when Postmedia tried to visit 83 Southwest Marine Drive, which is now clumsily awkwardly between two new apartment buildings on a busy highway.

The property document for the home says it was purchased in 2005 by Richard Lee for $ 398,000. In 2021, the property was valued at $ 1.65 million, slightly down from $ 1.82 million in 2019. The worn-out look structure is in itself valued at just $ 88,000.

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There are examples in Vancouver and elsewhere of holdouts that do not end up with a profit as handsome as they had sought.

In a Vancouver West End dispute that went to court, a judge ruled that an attempt to assemble a 36-unit layer complex, called Barclay Terrace, could continue — despite two condominium owners not moving because they believed in it. price they were offered was too low.

While many owners of Barclay Terrace sold well above the estimated value, Ramin Malekmohammadi Nouri in the $ 1 to $ 2 million range turned down a $ 3.5 million offer. Nouri’s asking price was $ 10 million, which BPTI, a company representing developers, called “absurd.” Negotiations ceased. And the judge ended up handing Nouri $ 2.2 million for his unit, which was only valued at $ 672,000.

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A condominium in Barclay Terrace, which was targeted for a country collection, turned down an offer of $ 3.2 million, even though his unit was valued at only $ 672,000.  The assembly went through after a lawsuit.  Luxury apartment towers are online for the corner lot.
A condominium in Barclay Terrace, which was targeted for a country collection, turned down an offer of $ 3.2 million, even though his unit was valued at only $ 672,000. The assembly went through after a lawsuit. Luxury apartment towers are online for the corner lot. Photo by GOOGLE MAPS / SCREENGRAB

In cities like Toronto, some now consider it a pastime in real estate to guess which lonely old building next to a new tower or apartment complex is an opt-out from a land collection. It’s also happened in Vancouver, where commentators on social media and journalists have been trying to figure out why there’s an abandoned gas station next to the jowl with the fun new Vancouver House. The owners of the property will not disclose the answer.

Land installation agreements can be risky and take a long time. As specialists like FCT say: When the developer has a few properties together, the pressure to start construction increases. “Delays with a single holdout in the owner group can motivate the developer to change their plans for the site by (simply) building around the property instead of waiting for an agreement on it.”

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In Metro Vancouver at expensive prices, massive country collections are becoming one of the big games in the city, regardless of their potential disadvantages. If you happen to own a home, especially one near a transit line or artery, you can never know who’s going to knock next time – making an offer that’s hard to turn down.

dtodd@postmedia.com

twitter.com/douglastodd


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