Do property values drop beside rapid transit?

People seldom praise the City for actions that might raise their property values. In this case, they might even complain that rising values will push their taxes up.

People are much quicker to complain that City actions will hurt, destroy, ruin, or otherwise negatively affect property values. Such was the cry at a Western LRT meeting. Surely building an LRT in that particular neighbourhood would cause incredible property value losses.

These weren’t just the folks living near a surface LRT bit either. Those who would be expensively shielded by placing the LRT in a tunnel complained the construction disruption would ruin their property values.

I wonder if a valid property assessment could be run in an area like Champlain Park, along the existing transitway “open trench”, to determine if house values were negatively — or positively — affected by the trench, compared to houses a block away. It certainly hasn’t stopped infills along the trench, or homebuyers acquiring the Minto townhouses at the Metropole which are right on the edge of the trench.

Sorry, anecdotal opinions by real estate agents doesn’t count. ‘Nuff said. It’d have to be by professional appraisers. So, it’s not likely to happen.

Frankly, I am not convinced by claims that running trains along the CPR right of way part of the Parkway would somehow affect property values worse than a zillion buses going by on the Parkway now. River views are rare and will overcome a number of downside factors.

I got off the bus at Pleasant Park Station a while ago. I was immediately struck by the magnitude of the retaining wall keeping back yards out of the transitway cut. Would a house in that circumstance be attractive to me? I think so, since there is a lot of “open space” behind those houses, and visual privacy. Others might find the circumstance unappealing. This in anecdotal opinion and not evidence of a pattern.

may 16, 2013


You can look at the fronts of the houses on Leslie and Cabot Streets on Google streetview.

8 thoughts on “Do property values drop beside rapid transit?

  1. A family members house is right beside the Pleasant Park Transitway bridge, his house was supposed to have dropped in value significantly, it didn’t. It increased in value significantly because of the Transitway stations at both Pleasant Park and Riverside being within walking distance.

  2. When gas prices go thru the roof the access to rapid transit will be thought of as a great thing. it’s only a matter of time.
    I’m not sure why the city doesn’t ‘play up’ the fact that these trains are electric and will be far less noisy than a fleet of buses going by every few minutes.

  3. An economic view based on real world experinces:

    “[T]he concerns that business and homeowners have with decreased property values with the development of the system probably won’t materialize. In fact, they’re likely to see net gain overtime as the light rail system increases the mobility of people and makes a larger geographic area attractive and feasible for them to live in or operate a business out of. However, as these benefits are spread out over time and any cost (or loss of revenue) will be upfront as construction delays or reduces access to areas, this may be a hard case for people to understand or support.”


  4. I think proximity to transit would be a good thing and would increase value. It’s one of the reasons why Westboro took off such as it did.

    I think people have the idea of noisy trains shaking the premises when they think negatively, but the LRT would be anything but, at least I would assume so as there would be the appropriate setbacks, etc.

  5. One thing we have to mentally separate out in this discussion is the difference between proximity to a rapid transit *station* and proximity to a rapid transit *line*.

    Clearly if you’re near to a station there’s some value to that, even if current residents can’t see it eventually others will.

    It’s far less obvious that there is value to being near to a line with no stations in sight. You get the vehicles but not the rapid transit access, so, if anything, the value should go down unless there is some countervailing mitigation brought in by the rapid transit line (i.e. replacement of car lanes by tracks, or, in this case, replacement of buses by trains).

    The thing is, with station spacing at no more than about a mile, just about everyone along a line will also be withing walking distance of a station, so the two effects should probably cancel out for those about half way between and be positive for anyone closer to the stations.

    At spacings of more than a mile, like two kilometres or so, there may well be property value losses for those in mid reaches, particularly considering that the vehicle speeds will also be quite high due to the distance between stations.

    Given the existence of the buses nearby and the station spacings, I can’t see there being any property value declines anywhere in the Western LRT corridor. Any property value decreases would have occurred over thirty years ago when the buses first started using the Parkway.

  6. The city should make an offer to buy any property within 100m of the Western LRT route at the (inflation adjusted) price the current owners bought it. I bet nobody would take them up on that.

  7. The underlying fallacy here is that Western LRT will do anything to improve access to public transportation for those along its path. It doesn’t. There is superb bus service all along the Richmond corridor. Sales pitches notwithstanding, the Western LRT extension is and always has been a pipe connecting outlying western commuters from Lincoln Fields to downtown, with a few local stops that will actually *reduce* ridership by slowing end-to-end times.

    If anything, the public transportation service currently enjoyed by the Richmond corridor can be expected to suffer as a result of LRT near that path, as local bus service reduces in frequency.

    The city is very fond of citing “studies that show” a 20% increase in property values near LRT, but that figure is an average over averages. What’s overlooked is that LRT is most often used to provide public transportation to markets that currently have little or none at all, and the availability of public transportation is a *tremendous* boost to property values. Any effect, positive or negative, of LRT passing through areas that already have good public transit is completely swamped by the benefits of adding public transit to areas not previously served.

    The saddest part of this whole Western LRT boondoggle is that it wastes such a great opportunity to properly serve the far western commuter with a train running fully twice as fast as it can on the northern corridor–and at a price that could put secondary surface rail on *both* Carling and Richmond with just the savings from moving the primary western rail service to another corridor.

  8. If properties were near the transit line (bus or LRT), it would likely attract value increase. Right next to the line–say less then 10m from your house–with the likeihood of noise, vibration, and even safety because there may not be a protective fence, you may be on the downside of the property value curve.

    Here is the intrnsic value argument that each and every home owner have since the home is one’s castle. An interesting question was asked during the Apr 25 WLRT open house to the councillors and city staffs sitting at the front bench if any of them would live in one of the property in front the LRT line. Guess what the answer was. No resposne. I guess most of us feel we know why.

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