The CTrain effect

Analysis shows inner-city real estate prices uneffected by LRT

Since 1981, the CTrain has transformed how Calgarians get around town.

Yet what impact has the city’s light-rail transit system had on property values?

And do they truly become selling features when buying or selling homes?

An analysis of inner-city communities along the West LRT line, which opened in December 2012, show average benchmark home prices reported by CREB® in neighbourhoods such as Spruce Cliff and Killarney saw increases on par with communities not immediately adjacent to the line such as Altadore and South Calgary.

For example, Altadore, located several kilometres from the nearest station, saw a 10.89 per cent increase 2013 to 2014, identical to that of Westgate, which has a station nearby.
Rosscarrock, meanwhile, bucked the trend, registering only an 8.98 per cent increase. Yet the rest of the communities surveyed ranged from 10.74 to 11.2 per cent.

CREB® president Corinne Lyall is not surprised that services such as LRT have not had a large impact on prices in inner-city communities.
Calgary homeowners, regardless of the community they currently live in or are looking to live in, have come to expect ready access to
public transportation, whether it’s bus or CTrain, she said.

“Putting an LRT in isn’t necessarily going to increase the values of those particular neighbourhoods. There is an expectation that there is going to be some sort of transit available,” she said.

“It really comes down to a buyer’s particular needs in terms of what transportation [is desired].”
Calgary Transit special projects manager Chris Jordan, however, argues LRT lines do benefit real estate prices in Calgary communities, and, in particular, foster growth downtown.

“Independent studies done by third-party researchers found investment in LRT has a positive impact on real-estate value,” he said.

Jordan references a 2013 report by the Real Estate Investment Network titled The Calgary Transportation Effect, which said transportation improvements can boost real estate values by 10 to 20 per cent in “affected areas.”

In cities with comparable transportation systems real estate value often jumps for properties “located within 500 to 800 metres of stations on new transportation lines.”

In Calgary, the report predicted price premiums for homes in communities within 800 metres of the West LRT stations.

Looking back historically, some predicted the LRT that pushed through Sunnyside in the 1980s would ruin the neighbourhood. Today, new condo buildings are sprouting up within steps of the Sunnyside station, noted Ijmal Haider, director of sales of marketing for Battistella Developments, builders of the eight-storey Pixel that overlooks the LRT crossing on Second Avenue N.W.

“It was a draw for people purchasing – a lot of them work downtown and they didn’t have to pay for parking,” said Haider. “We took precautions like soundproofing. I ask people who live facing the CTrain and they have no issues.”

Jim Sparrow of Royal LePage Solutions had opposed the LRT’s grade crossings in Sunnyside, but says having access appeals to young professionals who buy into such communities.

“It’s the convenience factor. We’ve sold any number of properties in Sunnyside and Hillhurst – not only because of the trendy neighbourhood, but also the walkability,” he said. “A lot of my colleagues loved living [there] because they never had to drive to work.”

GableCraft Homes, developers of Bridgeland Crossing near the Bridgeland-Memorial station, considers amenities such as LRT when planning its sites, said Rose Olson, vice-president of development and construction.

“When we look at places to build multi-family infill, being close to LRT is a huge advantage,” she said. “The transportation access is a huge component; it gives people the option of not having to drive.”

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