Density has long been touted as a solution to the affordability crisis in the housing market. By building more units on any given piece of land, developers can spread the cost of the land and infrastructure over more homes, thereby reducing the overall cost per buyer. This is especially true in urban areas where land is scarce and expensive, but the demand for housing is high.
A simple example of how density creates affordability in the housing market can be seen in the Fraser Valley, BC. Over the last few years, municipalities in this region, such as Surrey and Langley have implemented major policy changes, such as new land use or zoning policies, to encourage higher-density development. This development can include high-rises in some areas but is mostly townhouses, low-rise apartments, and mid-rise condos. These new policies have successfully created more affordable housing options for buyers and provided a range of options for renters.
The Township of Langley, for example, has been actively promoting the development of townhouses, low-rise apartments, and mid-rise apartments to increase the supply of affordable housing. The city has designated certain areas, such as Willoughby and Murrayville, as high-density development neighbourhoods, where developers can build more units per acre of land. The municipality’s policies have led to the development of numerous new communities, including townhouses and condos built with first-time buyers and renters in mind. These developments have been able to offer units at a lower cost per square foot than traditional single-family homes, making them more affordable for buyers and renters. For example, a 1,000 square foot townhouse in Langley can be purchased for around $200,000 less than a single-family home of the same size (as of February 2023).
As mentioned earlier, one of the main benefits of higher-density housing is that it allows for the efficient use of land and infrastructure, which can help reduce overall costs for homeowners and make housing more affordable for everyone. Additionally, high-density housing can help reduce traffic congestion and improve the sustainability of urban areas by introducing mixed-use developments with amenities, workplaces, and homes all within a short distance.
In conclusion, density creates affordability in the housing market by spreading the costs of land and infrastructure over a larger number of units. This can be seen in the Fraser Valley, BC, where municipalities have implemented policies to encourage higher-density development. These policies have been successful in creating more options for home buyers and renters, helping to address the growing demand for housing in the region.