The Real Estate Investment Network, which recently ranked Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows second among its list of top investment cities in British Columbia, notes the region has suffered from poor transportation infrastructure for decades. That's led property values to sit back behind those communities within a similar distance to Vancouver.
But the recent Translink and Gateway Transportation bridge improvements are already changing that, cutting down the commute and additionally drawing in more companies to the area as well. Other improvements in infrastructure are making a mark as well.
Elton Ash, regional executive vice president for Re/Max of Western Canada, says he recently attended a presentation by the economic development commissioner of Pitt Meadows on the two new bridges, an expanded Pitt Meadows Airport, and an overall bullish position on growth in the area.
"The population is going to grow significantly for that area," says Ash. "There's some new housing developments coming online, and there's still some land for development. The future is very positive."
He says single family attached homes are drawing the most demand in the region, mostly from first time homebuyers and others moving up in their housing class. To understand the push out to regions further outside of Vancouver, one has to understand the effect the new Chinese mainland demand on real estate.
Ash says that although Chinese buyers have been focused on a very limited area in Vancouver, their tremendous buying activity has pushed many city residents out into the suburbs after selling a condo in the hopes of obtaining a larger home, for example. "The Chinese buyers are not interested in the suburbs, so to speak, but those people selling properties are moving out," he says.<br />"If they were owning condos in downtown Vancouver and have a growing family, they can sell it and move out to where there is improving infrastructure." The benchmark price for Maple Ridge was $437,803 in February, and $539,746 in Pitt Meadows, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). The Greater Vancouver average benchmark price was $605,544. <br />
But while demand is picking up, prices have still yet to shift too much in the region compared to other parts of Vancouver. With regard to Pitt Meadows, the benchmark price is up 33% from five years earlier, and 3% from February 2010. In Maple Ridge, the benchmark is up 17% in Maple Ridge over five years, and down 1% since a year earlier, according to the REBGV.
But leaders in Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge are looking forward to a better long term picture. The Pitt Meadows Economic Development Corporation was started last year, and predicts in a promotional website that the city will become known as "the place to live for lifestyle.
Commuters can head to Vancouver in 45 minutes and out to Abbotsford and the U.S. border in 20 minutes. The road, water, air, and rail connections make the area attractive for those shipping goods. The new Golden Ears Business Centre opens this year in Pitt Meadows. Maple Ridge has promoted itself as a location for film productions, and it maintains agriculture, fishing, retail and commercial industries, among others.
No improvements will have as great an impact on the area as those to the transportation infrastructure, however. In addition to the two new bridges, Ash pointed out improvements underway on the Port Mann Bridge.
That will help ease commutes to jobs in Surrey and Langley. Improvements to the Evergreen Line, as well as expansion of the Translink light rail prior to the Olympics should also continue to draw in commuters to Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
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Dramatically improved transportation infrastructure has raised the profile of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows to young families. Set on the Fraser River and backed by the Coastal Mountains, adventure seekers have also been drawn to this area, located about 45 kilometers east of Vancouver.