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Untapped demand for transit-accessible housing

According to the 2014 Home Location Preference Survey, conducted in the Toronto area by Environics for RBC and the Pembina Institute, 81% of home buyers would prefer more walkable, transit-oriented housing. The survey builds on an earlier version (2012) exploring the same issues.

Not surprisingly, seniors and the 18-35 demographic were most likely to prefer these types of locations–they are also the most likely to take public transit. And increasingly, these are the groups that developers should care about; the size of the families-with-children age cohort, the traditional market for suburban, single-family housing, has been decreasing for some time now. One of the report’s more surprising findings was that even among those with three or more children, 60% said they would trade off a larger house in a suburban location for rapid transit, walkability, and a smaller house.

Affordability plays a major role in housing decisions–82% of respondents say that they live where they do because that’s what they could afford, and 45% said affordability affected their choice “a lot”. When respondents were told that they could save $200,000 over the cost of a 25-year mortgage by giving up one car, 60% said they would choose to live within access of transit even if it meant a smaller home. The survey adds to a considerable body of literature demonstrating how much latent demand exists for transit-accessible housing (check out this one from Canberra, Australia and this one from Southern California). Now if only developers, municipal councillors, and lending institutions could get on board…well, maybe RBC can lead the way.

The survey was conducted in May with 1,014 respondents in the Toronto area. You can download the full report on Pembina’s website here.


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