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Residential developer behaviour in British Columbia Ulinder, Daniel Derek

Abstract

The form and scale of our urban landscape is the net result of an evolutionary process in which there are countless numbers of participants. Societal ambitions and desires are translated subject to a number of constraints, to demands for various qualities and quantities of consumer goods. One of these goods is housing services - the service rendered by the occupation of, or associated with the ownership of, residential real property. This demand gives impetus to the production sector, the residential development industry, whose members, as entrepreneurs, devote their time and energy in an effort to transform these unsatisfied desires into compensation for their activity. The aggregate response of developers, whether they are catering to residential, commercial or retail real estate markets, taken over a period of time, lays the fundamental framework upon which our urban centers grow. As Kaiser notes; "In spite of the key role played by the residential developer in the conversion of open land to urban residential use, he has been relatively ignored by investigators of residential growth in the urban spatial structure." (Kaiser, 1968, p. 351.) It is hoped that this paper, through a micro level investigation of the decision-making process of the suppliers of residential real estate, will lead to an improved understanding of the operation of the real estate market as a whole. Ultimately such research should strengthen the platform upon which housing research and subsequent policy is conducted. This report is based upon information gathered by means of a questionnaire administered to 140 residential developers operating in the province of British Columbia in the three year period preceeding January 1975. The questionnaire was divided into 7 sections designed to gain insight in the following general areas: 1. General characteristics of development firms; 2. Elements of multiple unit development; 3. Elements of single unit development; 4. The role of land use contracts in residential development; 5. The subdivision process; 6. Stages and components of the residential development process; 7. The financing of residential development. Based on the responses of developers included in the study and the analytical framework detailed in Section 2.4 of this report, a number of conclusions were drawn with respect to developer behaviour and the operation of the market. Implications of current trends in the residential development industry are discussed and policy suggestions are made.

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