Willoughby Development Update
Key take-aways from a review of in-stream development applications

June 5, 2023

By Mike Harrison

The detached single family segment leads the Fraser Valley market during each major directional shift, rising first and falling first. As a result, it tends to be the most noticeable and the most dramatic shift in conversations with would-be purchasers of development land when the market changes direction. Of the many in-bound requests for development land we receive on a weekly basis, single family land has a tendency to be all or nothing; there is either insatiable demand or it is avoided like the plague. Like clockwork, when the market turned back on earlier this year, single family homes strengthened first and the requests for readily developable single family land and serviced lots, went from zero to 100. Like any good broker, I went on the hunt but came up short or at least shorter than usual. Readily developable land in Willoughby has always been a scarce commodity but this was more severe and it made me wonder: how much detached single family development is coming in Willoughby? 

So, we dug through the residential development applications in the Township of Langley’s Willoughby neighbourhood, all 116 of them, and the result:

Detached single family homes make up less than 8% of all in-stream units in Willoughby. 

Furthermore, less than a third of that 8% has achieved 3rd Reading or better so a majority of what is in-stream isn’t going to be delivered to the market any time soon. 

This certainly explains why there are so few available single family sites or serviced building lots available for sale in Willoughby but this has other implications as well:

  • The lack of in-stream supply helps build the case for prices of detached homes continuing their upward trajectory.
  • Rising prices of detached homes will provide room for the prices of the next most affordable home type (townhomes) to rise. 
  • For builders of detached homes, there will be minimal competition when your homes come to market.

So why are there so few detached single family homes coming?

  1. In a downturn like we had last year, the aversion to acquairing single family land results in far fewer application submissions which leads to an outsized drop in supply in the subsequent 2-4 years once applications are approved. We saw this in late 2017/2018 as well.
  2. Neighbourhood planning is shifting towards townhome and condo development and for good reason – it’s more affordable. So, there is just less land designated for single family homes.

Nerding out on the rest of the development application data revealed a handful of other interesting take-aways as well:

  • There are nearly 11,000 units under application
  • Only 28% of all units are at 3rd Reading
  • 71% of the 116 applications are located in just 3 of the 10 Willoughby neighbourhood plans: Central Gordon, Latimer and Yorkson.
  • Approximately half of all in-stream condo units are in Latimer and Carvolth 
  • Only 20% of townhome units are at 3rd Reading

For more information on the residential development land market in the Fraser Valley or to sign up for my monthly newsletter, please contact:

Mike Harrison

    • Principal, Development Land Sales
    • Land and Development
[email protected]

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Data sourced from Fraser Valley Real Estate Board