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GTHA Urban Digest

Most GTA Residents Preferred but Also Said They Lived in a Location Efficient Community: 2014 Pembina/RBC Survey

May 18, 2022 - A 2014 report from the Pembina Institute/RBC ("Pembina Report") examined homebuyers' preferences for home location attributes in the Greater Toronto Area ("GTA"). An oft-repeated finding is that when housing costs are not a factor GTA homebuyers prefer walkable, transit-friendly neighbourhoods to car-dependent locations even if it meant trading a large house and yard for a modest house, townhouse or condo. According to researcher Frank Clayton, the Pembina Report fails to make the case that a large proportion of residents are eagerly awaiting the development of modest houses, townhouses, and condos in location-efficient communities with a mix of uses and frequent rapid transit before moving from their large houses. The weak link in this finding is that most respondents believe they are already living in a location-efficient community.

Consumer surveys are just one tool for assessing the likelihood of residents of largely single-detached house neighbourhoods moving to transit-oriented communities. Meaningful results will require researchers to make clearer the differences between what planners regard as location-efficient communities from the communities that most single-detached housing occupants now live in and the types and sizes of housing in each scenario.

It is also important to understand what kinds of housing households are buying or intend to buy since most housing in location-efficient communities are apartments. In this regard, a forthcoming CUR report shows that many homes being sold in the GTA (new and resales combined) and preferred by intended buyers are ground-related (singles, semis and townhouses), particularly single-detached houses.

An alternative to consumer surveys is to apply hedonic pricing analysis to housing sales data to determine the contribution different housing, neighbourhood, environmental and locational attributes make to the sales prices of housing. 

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