Surge in Ground-Related Lot Values Reflects a Shortage of Supply in the GTA
August 19, 2016
Many believe that the Province of Ontario’s Growth Plan has designated sufficient greenfield lands in the 905 portions of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) to more than accommodate the demands for new housing up to the year 2031 and beyond. In this vein, it follows that land shortages could not possibly be a cause of surging prices for single-detached houses in the GTA given this more than ample supply of vacant designated lands.
I do not know whether or not there is an ample supply of land designated for new housing to meet the demands of the marketplace up to 2031 and beyond. What I do know is there is substantial evidence that indicates a severe shortage of serviced lots on which to construct new single-detached houses, semi-detached houses and townhouses (ground-related housing) in the GTA. Lands designated, but without subdivision registration or draft plan approval by the municipality, cannot be readily serviced with infrastructure like sewer and water, which are prerequisites for new residential construction.
Our blog entry on July 15th detailed the increasing gap between the rising demand for ground-related housing, as measured by MLS sales of existing homes, and the downward trend in ground-related housing starts in the GTA over the past decade. I blame the lack of serviced lots for this unresponsiveness.
This entry examines another indicator of a shortage of serviced lots for new single-detached houses and other ground-related housing in the GTA: the behaviour of serviced lot prices since 2005.
Our analysis documents that values of serviced lots are currently very high, exceeding $400,000 for a 40 foot lot in the GTA, with Markham recording the extraordinary average price of just over $800,000 for a single lot. On average, the value of a lot (40 front feet) is equivalent to about 45% of the end price of a new house in the GTA. Since 2005, average lot values have risen at a somewhat quicker rate than average house prices.
MCAP is the Source of Data on Serviced lot Values in the GTA
Toronto-based MCAP, one of Canada’s largest independent mortgage financing companies, has released a semi-annual report on lot values for ground-related housing lots in several municipalities within the GTA dating back to 2005. MCAP refers to its estimates as “lot values” rather than “lot prices” since they are based upon a residual land value analysis and not on lot sales or appraisals.1 The lots are fully serviced with development charges paid.
Average Serviced Lot Values in the GTA as a Whole
Values per Front Foot
Figure 1 presents average lot values in the GTA for alternative lot sizes as of June 2016 starting with the year 2005. The lot values are expressed in terms of value per front foot, which is how developers and homebuilders typically price lots.