Property agent David Hutchinson isn’t all about selling homes.
The experienced Vancouver realtor also pays attention to important housing issues, especially about affordability.
“If people, especially young professionals and new families, can no longer afford to stay in the city, then what’s the point in all of this?” Hutchinson asked in a phone interview with the Straight.
Among many, the Sutton Group-West Coast Realty agent has a continuing interest on density and whether or not increasing the number of new homes always lead to affordable housing.
Hutchinson cites one example about a Vancouver property that he is very familiar with.
“I originally sold this house,” the realtor said about the old home at 2475 East 2nd Avenue.
Hutchinson served as the listing agent of the owner of the four-bedroom Renfrew neighbourhood house built around 1938.
The home sold on May 29, 2019 for $1,330,000.
The new owner later demolished the one-and-a-half storey home, and proceeded to develop a duplex or two side-by-side homes on the 49.5-foot lot.
On August 10, 2021, the duplex units were placed on the market for $1,699,900 each.
This means that each of the two units was now more expensive than the $1,330,000 sold price of the old detached home.
On August 20, 2021, the one of the units with a new address of 2477 East 2nd Avenue sold for $1,650,000.
Less than a month later, the other unit, which retained the old address of 2475 East 2nd Avenue, sold on September 16 for the same amount of $1,650,000.
This means that the two side-by-side homes sold for a combined $3.3 million, or more than 148 percent compared the purchase price of the original home.
Speaking generally, Hutchinson observed: “More density is being created on a single-family lot, but this doesn't necessarily translate into affordability.”
“Duplexes more often than not are selling for a higher price than the old house that previously sat on the property,” he continued. “So, increased density seems to come with a lack of affordability.”
It can be recalled that in the dying days of the old Vision Vancouver administration of then mayor Gregor Robertson, city council on September 19, 2018 approved the mass rezoning of single-family lots in the city for duplexes.
Robertson’s Vision caucus okayed the measure, with opposition councillors Melissa De Genova, George Affleck, Elizabeth Ball and Adriane Carr voting against.
In particular, De Genova had serious concerns about such a sweeping move and doubted whether this would result to affordability, or worse, result to even more expensive homes.
On April 25, 2021, the Straight reported about an East Vancouver property at 2884 Yale Street as an example of a single-family home that was turned into a duplex.
The home in the Hastings Sunrise neighbourhood was sold on September 19, 2016 for $1,650,000.
Less than a year later, the same property was sold again, this time for $1,875,000.
The second buyer built a duplex or a two-family home in 2021, and placed the new residences on the market.
One half-duplex sold on March 5, 2021 for $2,059,047. The other unit sold on April 4, 2021 for $2,020,952.
In summary, the home that was purchased originally for $1,650,000 became a duplex and each unit sold for over $2 milllion, or a combined sale of more than $4 million.
Reacting to the Straight’s story about 2884 Yale Street, De Genova posted on Twitter: “I called it!”
De Genova was referring to her earlier concerns about Vision Vancouver’s mass rezoning for duplexes.
“Why should we not ‘blanket’ zone for duplexes on all Detached Single Family lots city wide.... ? because of land inflation. It makes #Vancouver less affordable,” De Genova stated in her tweet.
“However,” De Genova added, “land economics work in favour of lots of increased density 4 multi residential homes citywide.”
In the interview, Hutchinson noted to the Straight that what is happening on the East Side of Vancouver regarding new duplex developments is also the same on the more expensive West Side of the city.
Hutchinson cited the Dunbar area home at 3781 West 27th Avenue as an example.
The two-storey with basement property sold on March 4, 2020 for $2,350,000.
A new duplex will replace the home, and the two units now pre-selling at $2,898,000 each.
If sold at this price, the development will bring in a combined $5,796,000, or more than 146 percent over the purchase price of the old home.
The duplex development is expected to be completed in the winter of 2022.
Hutchinson noted: “Although, it may appear, on the surface, that the new builds are increasing density, we also have to consider that a lot of older homes are providing affordable housing through basement suites.”
This affordable housing comes in the form of rentals.
“Residents, usually long-term tenants paying relatively cheaper rents, are being displaced by these newer, more expensive builds,” Hutchinson said.