Expansion of Laneway Homes in Vancouver: household acceptance and builders' choices

Laneway homes, a ``missing middle'' infill form, appeal to policymakers as housing that both expands renters' choices and may be tolerable to incumbent owners. Vancouver's experience allowing laneway homes raises questions regarding spatial equity and the challenge of modest take-up.

This study builds on an intriguing result in a prior paper of ours. Laneway homes are less common in more expensive neighbourhoods, where their presence appears to adversely affect neighbouring property values. Selection is thus positive because laneway homes are commonly situated where neighbours mind least, but adverse because expensive neighbourhoods have received few new rental homes.

We will analyze owners' and builders' choices to add laneway homes to existing and newly built homes. Transaction and building characteristics data, along with input from our community partners allow us to explore both the choice to build and the consequences for own and nearby property values. Specifically, we will ask:

  1. Why are laneway homes uncommon on the West Side? Are affluent owners less willing to trade off lost privacy and space against rental income? Or do neighbourhood characteristics operate independent of demographics?
  2. Casual observation suggests laneway uptake has moved west with time. We will test whether this is true statistically, and whether adverse effects on neighbouuring property values have weakened with time in the West.
  3. How do home builders decide whether to add new laneways? A conjecture is that speculative builders will add laneway homes only where homes with laneways command a large premium, but custom built homes and laneways added to existing homes may be more equally distributed spatially, reflecting owners' idiosyncratic preferences.

  • Innovating in Responsive Land Practices

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