Saturday, June 20, 2020
Another revisit to Vancouver's Gentrification
originally published 11/30/2018, by Rod Sager
Gentrification has become a 'dirty' word in some circles. For those unaware of this term, it is used to describe the redevelopment of older run-down areas into more vibrant and affluent neighborhoods. There are always going to be growing pains when this type of real estate turnover happens.
The funny thing about it is this: when neighborhoods are run down they tend to produce less income and thus less taxes for local governments. They also typically have a higher drain on local services funded by those taxes. People are often complaining about all the issues associated with these types of neighborhoods, increased crime, vagrancy, drugs, etc.
After the neighborhoods start to get redeveloped the local area often becomes more expensive and sometimes people that live there can no longer afford the rents / prices. This creates a whole new layer of complaints from constituents.
When old industrial areas are converted to residential, this is less of a problem since no one "lived" in the abandoned industrial areas. One might think of Portland's South Waterfront or Vancouver's new waterfront. But ultimately these areas create a sphere of affluence around them putting upward pressure on rents and property values in nearby neighborhoods.
It can become the classic scenario of pleasing one group by pissing off another. For local governments chasing tax revenue the choice is easy, gentrification benefits the community at large so long as the local elected officials use the new found tax wealth to benefit the community at large. Sometimes that happens other times not so much.
In general Vancouver USA will benefit from the gentrification of Downtown and surrounding areas. What is most important for those who feel they may be on the pricing bubble is to buy while you can. As values push upward, those who bought will benefit greatly where as those who continue to rent will find themselves on increasingly thin ice. Soon they who choose to rent will become the voices against gentrification. Yet often they were the voices against the run down, crime infested neighborhoods that are being fixed.
The moral of this tale is that if you want to be able to stay in an area that is rising up, you better buy while you can. In these rising value scenarios, renters have to move, owners choose to move. That is a big difference.