The City of Vancouver cites affordability as reason for allowing more homes in low-density neighbourhoods.
This was the case in 2018, when the Vision Vancouver administration, in one of its last actions in office, permitted duplexes in most areas zoned for single-family homes.
The succeeding council led by newly elected Mayor Kennedy Stewart affirmed the policy in the same year.
The property at 2884 Yale Street is an example of a single-family home that was turned into a duplex.
Whether the redevelopment resulted in greater affordability is a question that one might want to ponder.
The East Vancouver home in the Hastings Sunrise neighbourhood was sold on September 19, 2016.
The two-storey-with-basement residence was listed for $1,599,000, and a buyer got it over the asking price, for $1,650,000.
Less than a year later, the same property was sold again, this time for $1,875,000.
Marman Developments Ltd. was the seller in the August 1, 2017 sale.
The listing for 2884 Yale Street stated that a “building permit is pending for a new 4,200 sf [square foot] modern home designed by multi award winning VictorEric Design Group”.
But instead of doing a new single-family home, the buyer later opted for a duplex or a two-family home.
A duplex got built on the same lot sometime in 2021, and the new owner, Noort Holdings Ltd., brought the new development to market.
One unit, which retained the property’s original address of 2884 Yale Street, was listed for $2,180,000.
The half duplex sold on March 5, 2021 for $2,059,047.
The other half, which now has an address of 2882 Yale Street, was listed for $2,140,000.
On April 4, 2021, the half duplex sold for $2,020,952.
In summary, Noort Holdings Ltd. bought the house for at least $1.8 million, built a duplex, and sold each duplex unit for over $2 milllion, for a combined sale of more than $4 million.
Talking about $2 million homes, one may want to recall a staff report that council considered in 2018, when it approved duplexes in single-family neighbourhoods.
The report was written by Dan Garrison, who is now the city's assistant director of housing policy and regulation.
In his June 27, 2018 report, Garrison noted that homeownership is “out of reach for many Vancouverites as median household income over the past decade has increased at an average rate of 3.3%1”.
This as the “benchmark price for a detached home in Vancouver’s east side has increased at an average rate of 10.5%”.
“The opportunity to live within such a neighbourhood is generally now limited to those who can afford $2 million or more to purchase a house or those who are willing to rent (typically a basement suite or laneway home),” Garrison wrote.
In short, Garrison was saying about three years ago that a typical $2 million single-detached home in East Vancouver was unaffordable.
So perhaps a half duplex could be cheaper or more reasonably priced.
But as the story of Yale Street property now shows, an East Vancouver half duplex may fetch a price of over $2 million in 2021.
The Straight came to know about the sale of the duplex units when Vancouver realtor and market observer David Hutchinson noted the transaction in Twitter post.
When sought for comment, Hutchinson, who was not the seller’s agent, said that the developer apparently made a “good choice” by not building a new-single family home.
“The new purchaser opted to scrap the large, single-family house design, and instead decided on the new city duplex option, with lock-off suites,” Hutchinson noted.
“It's easier to sell two less expensive properties than one $4-million dollar home,” he continued.
“Any development is a gamble for the investor-builder, especially with an approximately two-year build-out, because no one has a crystal ball, and who knows where the market will be?” the Sutton Group-West Coast Realty agent also said.
As to whether the redevelopment contributed to housing affordability is another question.
“Time and time again I see supply not transforming into affordability, and here again is just another example of this,” Hutchinson said.
The realtor noted that achieving affordability is tricky in an expensive city like Vancouver.
Hutchinson explained that “with enough density, new homes could become more affordable than the previous housing on the land”.
However, these new residences will not be detached homes.
“These, basically, would be 750-square-foot condos for $1,000 to $1,200 per foot,” Hutchinson said.