Affordable housing

My lot is about 50’ x 120’ which is considered a huge lot in Vancouver but there is actually little room in our backyard to build out. Our house is about 100 years old but was expanded in 1990 to become then one of the larger old houses on the street: it is smaller than the ones currently being built. What would be possible would be to convert our garage into a two bedroom lane house and do some modest remodelling to the house. I think we could fit ourselves, my son and our two Vancouver daughters’ families into that configuration. After my wife and I “move on”, our London daughter and her family could take our quarters.

BTW, I have never had any desire to live in Arizona except maybe in the Sedona area.

Couple of nice local brewers there.

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50 x 120 is too small to be a legal lot where I live. You need a special exemption to have a lot narrower than 70’, and can’t build period if it is < 8,000 sq ft.

Not aware of what the minimum is either in my city or state, but “garden homes” here, like my first home are on lots 60×120, sometimes even smaller with 5’ between structures.

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I assume you are in the suburbs or in a smaller city? 50’ is a large lot in central Vancouver: 33’ more typical. Central Toronto had narrower lots: our first home there was on a 25’ lot.

So I guess walkability is not a huge draw of your neighborhood.

Unfortunately the NIMBY folks here continue to block changes to zoning to allow medium density construction (up to 4 stories) near rail. It’s been shot down in the city council at least once and I think twice.

Much of the city has single family zoning. For the areas with medium to high density zoning there is a huge building boom. However some of those areas aren’t near transit, exacerbating current traffic problems.

Seems to be difficult to get these passed at city level and much easier at state/province level. My guess is that if one city passes it and neighboring cities don’t, there is a fear that there will be a rush of new housing in that one city.

I was always a fan of Jane Jacobs, the American-Canadian urbanist, on the issue of walkable neighbourhoods. Her views have strongly influenced the blueprint for Canadian residential developments.

It is ironic that one of the strongest proponents for converting single family housing to rooming houses is an Atlantan real estate developer, Atticus LeBlanc (love his name!). Guessing that his PadSplit company has been less successful in his home town than in other markets.

Interesting recent article in the NY Times on SRO’s:

Billionaires facing housing supply issues as well. From the WSJ:

“People’s wealth has grown so substantially and there’s such limited product…There are more billionaires than there are oceanfront, sprawling estates”

—Palm Beach, Fla., real-estate agent Chris Leavitt. The growing number of wealthy home buyers globally has impacted the ultraluxury housing market. Since 2020, at least 24 U.S. homes have sold for $100 million and up, more than the total number of nine-figure sales during the entire prior decade.”

Building your own island will be all the rage soon enough.

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The excerpts below from an article in today’s Globe and Mail discusses a trend I have noticed anecdotally over the last few decades: seniors in Canada and the US are choosing to stay in their large homes to an older age.

“A Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation report in November found that the sell rate for each five-year age cohort for those aged 75 and over has been trending downward since the early 1990s, putting increasing pressure on the housing market.

The report, titled Understanding the Impact of Senior Households on Canada’s Housing Market, said the sell rate among that age group has fallen about six percentage points in the past 30 years.

Seniors are now less likely to sell their homes before age 85, it said, noting the demographic shift needed to free up a meaningful amount of housing stock won’t start happening for several years. “According to Statistics Canada’s demographic projections, population growth in the 85-and-over age group will be higher from 2030 to around 2040.”

CMHC economist Francis Cortellino wrote a large part of the report, and said “better health and better wealth” is part of what is keeping people at home longer, but so is a lack of options. Those who would be willing to downsize, he said, are often stymied by a lack of housing variety in their communities, so they stay in their homes to remain close to their friends.

Mr. Cortellino said that in many of Canada’s large cities, seniors living alone or couples over age 75 are more likely than young families to live in single-family homes with three or more bedrooms.

Several other reports confirm parts of his findings. Real estate and mortgage company in January that found that in the United States, “empty-nest baby boomers own 28 per cent of the nation’s large homes with three or more bedrooms, while millennials with kids own just 14 per cent.”

I don’t know about Canada, but in America tax law changes, particularly on higher dollar homes, has had a direct impact on that. It’s also been exacerbated by the resent spike in mortgage interest rate from thier decades long lows.

and that all the homes to downsize to that are still in roughly the same community were bought and made bigger - so there aren’t places to move to that still feel like the same locale.

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Probably the biggest factor in Canada is that folks in their 70’s and older are generally in better health than their counterparts 30 years ago? Seniors are able to look after their own homes for much longer than in the old days. It is also very disruptive to move house which is a huge consideration for most.

In our own case, we are guilty of having more house than we need much of the time. I have bolded that as there have been times where we have become a three generation household for extended (over a year) periods of time when children are sorting out their own household situations. We also host families and friends frequently as Vancouver is a popular destination and alternative accommodation is very expensive here.

The strongest argument for selling is that it would free up some money to give to our kids to help them with their own housing challenges. However splitting the net proceeds among the four of them would help a bit but not solve their housing wishes.

We had looked at building a lane-house to rent out to increase the housing supply but the half-million cost to build one would not add any value to our lot on its eventual sale: our lot would be purchased and redeveloped as a quadriplex so the existing buildings would be torn down.

We are taking the emotional step of selling the family farm in Ontario (my grandfather Cooke bought it in 1915) and the net proceeds distributed to our kids. That should enable them to pay down their high interest mortgages a bit.

There is also no place I would prefer to live.

Also, some states in the US reduce the amount of property tax for people over a certain age, thereby incentivizing them to own/own more.

In my state, a fixed-dollar (equal for everyone) exemption is subtracted from the assessed value before the millage rate is applied, so taxes are proportionally higher for higher-value houses. (The senior credit is applied afterward.)