by Michael Rix
Being around public transportation wasn’t always a good choice when it came to real estate. After World War II, downtown living was frowned upon and people flocked towards the suburbs in order to find larger and greener land. As a result, real estate prices rose outside the city.
Fast forward to today and we’re seeing the opposite effect. People want to live in the downtown core and public transportation is at the forefront of political debate.
Billions of dollars are being spent on new subways and streetcars in cities like Toronto and Vancouver. Calgary and Ottawa are also beefing up its public transit service in response to a higher demand from residents.
In fact, every major city across Canada has plans to focus on public transportation. It’s a response to increased population demands, and on minimizing the cost of economic and environmental resources.
Increased housing prices are a result of higher demand. In terms of housing near public transportation, this demand has increased because people want the convenience of walking to a subway or streetcar. This is an advantage because there is no requirement to pay for parking.
The millennial generation (those under 30 years old) also prefers to live close to public transportation. This generation of the population has made a conscious decision to drive less and walk more, thus, making them more dependent on public transportation.
This is especially true in the rental market where many renters opt to live in housing that is walking distance to a subway or streetcar route.
Transit is vital for building communities. It’s an essential service that provides mobility, creates jobs and takes cars off the street. As a result, congestion is reduced, fostering economic growth in the economy.
In terms of real estate prices, property values that are located close to public transit increase at a higher rate and have been shown to be more resilient to economic downturns.
A study created by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) concluded that “property values with good access to public transit remained much closer to their pre-recession levels than properties without access, even within the same city.”
This can also be seen in the short-term rental market. Properties listed on AirBnB and VRBO yield a higher return when they are located close to public transportation and to the downtown core.
As cities across Canada become more developed, it will be more and more difficult to commute downtown via car. Thus, properties that are located closer to the downtown and have good access to public transportation will continue to see growth in real estate prices.
Michael Rix is a co-founder of TurnKii, a Toronto-based company providing an all-in-one tool and service to support everyday landlords/real estate investors.
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