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Do you own the air above your home? Free seminar to explain all

We know land in our region is valuable, but what about the air above your property – how can you maximize its value?
Christ Church Cathedral air space rights
The owner of a heritage building such as Christ Church Cathedral could sell their air rights so another development can get additional density, according to realtor Geraldine Santiago, who is running a seminar on air rights September 8, 2018

We all know that land prices are sky-high, but the price of air space is much more mysterious. Now, the value of the air above your home, and how you can maximize it, is the key topic of a free two-hour lunchtime seminar being held this Saturday, September 8, in Vancouver.

Geraldine Santiago, a local real estate agent who is running the seminar, wants to educate the public about maximizing their property’s value, including its air space – whether you’re in a detached house or a condo building.

Above certain heights, the sky is public property, like a “virtual highway for air travel,” said Santiago – but air space closer to the ground, including that above houses and condo buildings, can still be valuable real estate. She pointed out that in big cities like New York, developers are already paying an average of $225 per square foot for space above low-rise buildings called “air rights,” and that the buying and selling of air rights have played a prominent role Manhattan development for decades.

Santiago said that with Metro Vancouver’s recent real estate boom, the region’s homeowners are looking for ways to maximize their lots’ potential. Current options include subdividing properties, building laneway homes, grouping lots to sell as land assemblies for larger developments – and now, selling air rights.

She observed that in the case of a heritage-designated property that cannot be torn down or built upwards, a developer may acquire the air space rights of that building to add density to a neighbouring property through what’s known as transferable development rights. In New York, air space rights above heritage buildings – like theatres and churches – are being sold by owners and purchased by neighbouring developments, and that’s starting to happen in Metro Vancouver.

“Ask yourself: Do I own the air above my property and, if so, what can I do with it? How can I sell my air rights? Our industry experts will be on hand to answer your questions and provide you with best-use scenarios.”

Santiago said that the seminar will also look at other ways to maximize a lot’s value, including land assembly and subdivision. She said, “Think of your property as a three-dimensional space – every part of that can be maximized for its best use.”

The free lunch-and-learn seminar, entitled “3rd Annual Land Assembly 101” is being held at the Re/Max office 3215 Macdonald Street, Kitsilano, Vancouver, from 11am-1pm on Saturday September 8. The seminar is free to attend, but pre-registration is required as there are limited seats, and lunch will be provided (dietary preferences noted upon registration).

To register, go to the EventBrite page, email Geraldine Santiago at or text 604-764-6873 with the word LAND.