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Surrey stumbles on affordability near transit

October 04, 2019

This Surrey, B.C. house close to a proposed transit station recently sold for $1.6 million, twice its assessed value.

A concept to ensure affordable housing along the new SkyTrain rapid transit extension in suburban Surrey, B.C., has run into a major hurdle: Residential land prices are spiralling along the route.
The City of Surrey won’t have zoning and other planning complete for the 16.5 kilometre transit line until January 2020 and phase one construction is not expected to start until 2021, but land speculators are already active.
One example is a 1950s era bungalow on a quarter-acre lot close to the first transit station planned: It sold in September for $1.6 million. This price is twice the property’s assessed value and about $600,000 higher than the benchmark price of a Surrey house, as reported by the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board.
“A speculator-developer bought it,” confirmed real estate agent Joe Virani, who handled the transactions. The buyer, he explained, is confident that zoning in the area will be for high-density housing once the city’s transit corridor planning document is released.
Land along the proposed route is the only residential land in Metro Vancouver that is selling far above assessed value. So far this year, residential prices are down about 10 per cent from a year earlier and most houses are selling for less than BC Assessment Authority values that were set in July 2019, according to real estate sources.
Affordable housing is a goal, according to a City of Surrey statement released when federal and provincial funding was secured for the first phase of the transit extension (expected to cost $1.6 billion). The city would “encourage the retention and development of affordable housing along transit corridors, particularly along Frequent Transit Corridors and within existing or planning Rapid Transit Stations,” according to the statement.


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