The past year has been like no other — some individuals have struggled and others have celebrated. But regardless, 2020 will certainly be remembered by all. In real estate, one interesting development to come out of the pandemic has become a search for additional living space, due to people spending less time travelling and more time at home.
Also known as a “flight to space,” this translates into a desire to upsize in the city or seek single-family dwellings elsewhere such as the Fraser Valley. With the help of technology, no longer being tethered to a physical place of employment is resulting in a change in traditional values.
“What we're talking about is the significant shifts we've all experienced over the last 12 months as a result of Covid-19 that relates to our lifestyle and our needs. The unhinging between work and office, new habits, and the importance of presence right now,” said MLA Canada President Ryan Lalonde.
“A few of the conversations we've been having in the boardroom lately focus on, ‘Where are the opportunities?’ They are many marketplaces right now where that new value formula is being reimagined. Thanks to Zoom, when you're no longer constrained by a commute, you’re free to push the boundaries on choosing a place to live, and many are looking east some are looking north and some are actually looking west to the islands.”
This phenomenon is perfectly exemplified in the Langley townhome market. Demand has exploded as families strive to upgrade to larger, more affordable housing. Last year, 13 new such projects in the area began sales — accounting for half of the total number in the Fraser Valley, according to MLA Canada’s recently published annual real estate report — far outpacing the seven condominium launches (one concrete and six wood frame) during the same period. Of the 752 units released to the market, 335 of those, or approximately 45 percent, were already spoken for at year-end.
The increase in popularity has driven up costs significantly as well. New construction prices in 2020 rose $100,000 for two-bed townhomes, $60,000 for three-bed and $50,000 for four-bed, resulting in a correlating price-per-square-feet jump from just above $400 to $475.
Lalonde added he expects the trend towards secondary marketplaces to continue well into the coming months ahead.
“These rural locations will continue to thrive and see double-digit growth in both price points and sales absorptions over the foreseeable future. Primarily because they simply do not have the density, nor the supply, to be able to maintain the demand metrics that are set to keep pushing into those new neighbourhoods, he says.
“In addition, people will look to regain some of the things they left behind [pre-Covid-19], which is also going to impact new marketplaces.”
By MLA Contributor Benjamin Yong