One Percent Realty March 26, 2014

Are you reading this correctly? Is this realtor really going to discuss how Canadian prostitution laws can affect the Toronto housing market?

The answer is yes –because prostitution may soon be 100% legal by December 2014 and may significantly impact your property value. This past December, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled to strike prostitution laws, granting the Canadian government 1 year to amend them. If no amendments are made, prostitution will be decriminalized altogether.

If you get the chance, read The Grid’s article on the legalization of prostitution in Canada through the eyes of a former escort. The article outlined the various trials and tribulations many sex workers (women, men, transgender, etc,) undergo. It ranged from safety; to public stigma; to even the high cost of advertising they need to run a successful business. By decriminalizing prostitution, sex workers can have access to safe and secured working conditions, benefits and taxable earnings.

But what does it mean for Toronto’s real estate? As a realtor, it’s in my nature to wonder how new legislations will affect the market. Now I’m not passing any judgment, nor will I be discussing whether prostitution is immoral or moral. The reality is: there will be changes to how prostitution will be handled and how the government handles it can affect the Toronto housing market.

If Canada were to emulate prostitution laws from Sweden, Amsterdam and New Zealand, how would each model affect home/business real estate value?

Nordic Model

This model is used in Sweden and Norway, making it illegal to buy sex, but legal to solicit (usually criminalizing the client instead of the sex worker). Statistically in 2004, Sweden had a drop in clients engaging in prostitution. The model apparently lowered the demand for prostitution and allowed sex workers to report crimes and work with law enforcement.

Ideally, this would be best for real estate as there would be less prostitution in the area, yet maintain income and employment rate. However, while there were fewer clients, there were a higher proportion of clients who were extremely violent.

Amsterdam Model – Red-Light District

Red-light districts are neighbourhoods designated for prostitution. The interviewee in the article was opposed to having a red-light districts as it forces sex workers to publicly register and sacrifice anonymity (and even compared it to controlled-pimping). However, it would regulate where prostitution would be allowed. Many advocates for the red-light district say, “red zones would protect citizens by keeping the trade out of residential and commercial areas where it would affect property values and neighbouring business”.

The real question is: where would you put the red-light district? Surely not in a residential school zone? Or do you put it in the hustle and bustle of the downtown core -and if so how will it affect it’s commercial real estate? How far is far enough to not impact your property value? There are clearly many questions surrounding red-light districts and having them doesn’t necessarily mean protection of your home real estate.

New Zealand Model

The model in New Zealand has no red-light zone and no need for public registry for sex workers. Sex workers can work, legally, in privacy; form collectives and hire employees. Also, brothel owners are licensed by district court and must adhere with standard business zoning.

While there is an extensive labour legislation covering occupational health and safety, the main concern is the lack of special zoning. Street based prostitution increased in commercial areas and even increased noise and litter. Maybe not the best model for your property value.


Many eyes will be on Canada’s amendment on prostitution by the end of this year, and many are curious to know how this will affect the public, sex workers, property value and safety. As a realtor based in Toronto, I am curious to know how Toronto will be affected (if at all). Will the new Canadian prostitution law have a positive or negative effect on home realty in the GTA? Until Canada selects or designs a model in which prostitution can adhere to, it will be difficult to know how the housing market will be affected.

To read Alexandra Kimball’s Article “4 Things You Need To Know About Being A Sex Worker in Toronto” click HERE.

To read more on the Supreme Court ruling on prostitution click HERE

If you’d like to see more controversial legislations dissected (like the article above), comment below or email me at