StaTe of the Development Land Market in Willoughby
The consistent home sales activity in Willoughby over the last year, after the initial impact of the pandemic, has made it one of the hottest development land markets in the Fraser Valley. The area’s accessibility to Highway 1, great schools and rapidly expanding amenities give it an inherent value that makes it an extraordinarily robust residential market. As a result, by last Fall the residential development land market began to rebound from the pandemic and charged ahead at full speed until April this year when it tapered off.
Taking a deeper dive into transaction data for residential development land in Willoughby, you can see in the chart below that land transactions over the last 12 months were down relative to the preceding 12 months. This decrease in quantity of transactions, total dollar value of land sold and total acres of land sold is not surprising given the pandemic but it’s not telling the entire story.
Despite a broad market decline and an enormous increase in municipal development fees, the average sale price per acre still increased by 22%. This is partially due to the type of properties that make up the above data; the sales are comprised predominantly of readily developable land rather than holding properties, which tend to have lower land values. What we aren’t seeing in this data, however, is the enormous volume of land deals that have been put together since November of last year. These transactions have not completed yet and as a result, the data is not registered so it is not included in the above statistics.
What’s to Come
Just in the past 6 weeks, the market has shifted again, stabilizing after the frenzy of the rebound from the pandemic. Land values have decelerated and buyers are behaving in a more typical, cautious manner. We expect this trend to carry through the summer.
Willoughby Development applications
There are 4 key areas in Willoughby which possess the bulk of the active development applications. Between them they contain 70 applications for over 5,000 new homes across 450 acres. The two hot spots outlined in red on the map below are where we anticipate seeing the most new construction activity over the coming year. The summary statistics to the right may appear to be an extraordinary volume of new inventory for the market, but these applications exist at a wide variety of stages in the planning process and will not all come to market at the same time. Of these applications a handful may come to market this year, but many will take two years or more.
25 significant* applications for residential development.
2,136+ units proposed over 195 acres:
26% Single Family
24 significant* applications for residential development.
1,525+ units proposed over 53 acres:
2% Single Family
16 significant* applications for residential development.
880+ units proposed over 92 acres:
40% Single Family
5 significant* applications for residential development.
506+ units proposed over 114 acres:
16% Single Family
* A “significant” application is any application with greater than 5 units/lots
CURRENT DEVELOPMENT STATUS OF EACH NEIGHBOURHOOD IN WILLOUGHBY
Development is still booming throughout Carvolth, especially along the central and eastern portions of the neighbourhood. The Township of Langley (TOL) anticipates the neighbourhood to be a centre of growth as over 90% of the neighbourhood is under application or already built-out. 2020 saw sales launch for multiple new residential projects, leasing launch for a new office project, construction of a large-scale rental apartment project, and planning progress on a handful of other applications.
Development activity in 2020 consisted primarily of the completion of a few projects near Willoughby Town Centre and the Town Centre itself also filled up with local businesses. The southwest quadrant of Yorkson is even catching up after being delayed by the requirement of a new school.
Construction on the long awaited stormwater detention pond on 202B Street around 71 Avenue is now completing. This has unlocked the development of the western portion of the neighbourhood, which has been delayed for years. Over the last year, another 4 development applications were added to the list of future projects in this area, so the arrival of the pond has come as a relief for all in the queue.
Development in this neighbourhood continues to be stalled as the wait continues for the prerequisite elementary school and park site. As a result, there was very little activity in Smith in 2020.
The 216 Street Interchange has been completed and there has been significant progress with development applications. Despite the advancements in the area, no significant physical changes have taken place in the area as progression with the applications has been behind the scenes.
Vesta’s Latimer Heights master planned community has made significant progress with construction and new phases are released for sale regularly. As we mentioned in our report last year, this project will underpin subsequent developments in the northeast quadrant bringing much-needed commercial amenities. Services have now been delivered to the southwest quadrant which means this area has opened up for development and new home sales in this area have even started.
North East Gordon
North East Gordon remains unchanged with the west side seeing progress with single family developments and the portion between 207 Street and 208 Street still waiting for the required stormwater detention pond. The fractured ownership in this area is making it difficult for a developer to assemble enough land to justify building the pond and this uncertain development timeline is holding land values down.
As we have commented over the last two years, there is still no visible progress on the high-rise application that received conditional approval in 2018. Activity in Jericho was limited to a few land transactions on the southwest corner of 200 Street and 80 Avenue but it will be years before we see any construction there. The future of the special study area adjacent to the Langley Events Centre remains unclear.
Southwest Gordon & Routley
These neighbourhoods are substantially built out with minimal new development.
In creating this report, we consult Township of Langley planning staff, survey multiple land transaction reporting systems (Commercial Edge, MLS) and analyze municipal development data to bring you the most relevant information. If you have any questions about this report or Langley’s development land market, don’t hesitate to reach out.
To receive future reports directly to your inbox, please sign up for our development land newsletter here.