Why are all of the houses for sale on some blocks in Vancouver?
March 9, 2015 6:09 PM   Subscribe

Every time I visit Vancouver and drive down Granville St between Granville Island and the airport, I notice there are entire blocks full of single family homes for sale. As in, every house on the block is for sale, often by the same realtor, at the same time. Why is this?

A few of these blocks of homes have been for sale for the last 2+ years. The houses don't look like they are demolition worthy (they appear habitable, have nice cars parked out front, and many look relatively new/fancy). I'm from Seattle which has a hot real estate market, and it's common to maybe see one or two homes for sale on the same block at the same time, but never EVERY SINGLE HOME. And in Vancouver, when I see this, there's never a case where one or two houses are not for sale in between a set of ones listed. It's always several houses in a row, if not the entire block altogether.

I see this along Granville St (99) as well as some of the surrounding blocks. Are wealthy investors coming into this neighborhood and offering cash to every homeowner on a block and then immediately listing them when all of the homes on that block have been bought up? What is the end game? To appeal to buyers who want large chunks of land to build apartment buildings perhaps?
posted by joan_holloway to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
To appeal to buyers who want large chunks of land to build apartment buildings perhaps?

Bingo. At least, that's my understanding. It's similar to Cambie since the proximity of the Canada Line provides excellent transit in the area.

That, and the city really has a dearth of (affordable) housing.
posted by invokeuse at 6:35 PM on March 9, 2015

Yeah, I think the goal is to sell the entire block to a developer who would be willing to pay more than the houses are worth in order to get them all easily in one go.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 6:44 PM on March 9, 2015

Concurring, not an unusual tactic in "hot" neighbourhoods. The individual homeowners make more and the developer doesn't have to wait for a hold-out owner before moving forward with redevelopment.
posted by saucysault at 8:06 PM on March 9, 2015

Exactly. I'm in Australia, but the same thing is happening in my area. I only rent, but we had a real estate agent door-knocking the other day to say that they were about to list the house next door to us, and they were trying to find neighbours who were interested in selling too, as they'd get a much higher price (from developers) if a few houses in a row would sell at the same time.
posted by lollusc at 8:13 PM on March 9, 2015

Best answer: Nthing the others; this process of combining adjoining parcels of land is called assemblage.

I believe this particular stretch of Granville is not zoned for condos, which may explain why no developer has yet bought these homes. It costs the homeowners nothing, and the realtor very little, in expenses so they're just hoping some big money is willing to do the deal and then begin the rezoning application. I doubt that the selling agent has bothered to apply.
posted by praiseb at 9:13 PM on March 9, 2015

Best answer: Oh boy, a Vancouver housing question! As others have mentioned, it's to sell to a large buyer for rezoning and eventual redevelopment into denser housing. More people on that land = more cash.

If you look at Vancouver's zoning map, you'll notice that about 80% of the residential land is zoned for single-family houses and (a handful of) duplexes. This includes most of Granville south of 16th. The zoning is a regressive piece of work that explicitly keeps people out of Vancouver, but that's another story.

Rezoning land in Vancouver is difficult and involves a lengthy process with chances for the community to object, so there are big economies of scale. It's much easier to go through the process once with a large plot of land than to go through it multiple times for smaller plots of land, hence the incentive to sell and redevelop more than a single plot.
posted by ripley_ at 9:23 PM on March 9, 2015

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