Urban YVR Feature – A Conversation With Jon Stovell, President of Reliance Properties on Vancouver’s Bright Future

Urban YVR Feature – A Conversation With Jon Stovell, President of Reliance Properties on Vancouver’s Bright Future

In collaboration with urbanYVR, Shawn Brown sat down with the president of Reliance Properties, Jon Stovell, to get a clear perspective on the future of Vancouver’s commercial and residential real estate.

Reliance properties is invested in our city and has a long-term vision for Vancouver which explains much of their work owning and renting out commercial and residential buildings.

“I think it’s going to be a revolutionary time in Vancouver, and I think you’re going to see a lot of rezonings coming forward”

See a sample from the interview here.

Access the full interview and recap in the link below.

Urban YVR Feature – Impact Of Commercial Boom On Residential Real Estate

Urban YVR Feature – Impact Of Commercial Boom On Residential Real Estate

Shawn Brown sat down with CBRE commercial agent, Andre Alie Day, to learn more about downtown Vancouver’s current office tower boom. With over three million square feet of new office space under construction, it is estimated that there will be approximately 17,500 new workers Downtown.

“Assuming 50 percent decide to rent and the other 50 percent decide to purchase, that could translate to 4,375 downtown homeowners.”

See a sample from the interview here.

Access the full interview and recap in the link below.

The Future of Downtown Vancouver

The Future of Downtown Vancouver

When we faced the initial pandemic unknowns and transitioning to working from home, there was an understandable desire for many to flock to the suburbs to gain more space. Flash forward a year and many of us have acclimatized and are back working in our offices which has resulted in what some are calling the beginning of a  “U Turn” of a purchasing pattern.

Interestingly enough, we are concurrently seeing a boom like never before in commercial development with over 3.5 million square feet currently in the works. This is enough new office space for approximately 17,500 people. This tells us that there is a confident expectation for a robust demand to work, and therefore live, in Downtown Vancouver in the years to come.

Background on Downtown Vancouver 

According to the Downtown Vancouver BIA (DVBIA), the downtown peninsula is the most densely populated area in BC. It consists of two areas: The West End and Downtown. The West End (2.04 sq. km.) is known for its proximity to English Bay and Stanley Park. Downtown (3.75 sq. km.) is primarily known for its business and entertainment districts but is also home to a large number of residents who live in high-rises. It includes the neighborhoods of Yaletown, Gastown, and Coal Harbour.

The DVBIA’s most recent stats show that by the end of 2019, Downtown’s population, as well as its workforce, had both increased 10.8% since 2016. It is worth noting that Downtown’s five-year resident population growth rate remains three times greater than that of Vancouver.

Despite this continued substantial growth and a workforce outnumbering 150,000 people, office vacancies remain low at 2.6%.


Downtown development underway

Given the high demand to live Downtown and the ongoing shortage of office space, it is no surprise that commercial developers jumped on the opportunity.

As mentioned in the opening, there are 3.5 million square feet in new commercial space under development – you have likely seen the unique new Deloitte Summit office tower at 400 West Georgia Street which recently celebrated a milestone, achieving its full height of 301 ft with 24 storeys. Right across the street is “The Post”, the massive redevelopment of the city’s former central post office that will house more than one million square feet of office space. And these are just two of the many commercial developments at play.

This will lead to an approximate 12% increase in the Downtown working population. Let’s say half of those people want to limit their commute—that is an influx of 8,750 new potential buyers in the Downtown core.

Current opportunities 

Given how densely populated Downtown Vancouver is, supply will always be constrained and therefore prices will continue to climb.

New housing supply is currently made up of mostly new luxury builds and pre-sales, such as what we are seeing on Alberni, the Northeast corner of downtown, around the Viaducts area, and Robson and Smithe but these are all very expensive at around $2,000+ per square foot.

This means that realistically, most of these expected people moving to Downtown will be looking to buy resale properties.

In 2019, there were only 1,772 downtown sales under two million dollars. In short, if there are almost 9,000 new buyers expected in the near future, we are going to see a severe short supply.


Current trends in pricing and sales 

As we highlighted in our latest market update, condo sales have increased 111.7% in March compared to 2020 with 944 sales.

This desire to live in the heart of Downtown Vancouver is being revived once again by leading indicators of life going back to “normal” through increased vaccinations taking place and the expectation of upcoming easing restrictions.

The average price of a condo is $810,900, only a 1.8% increase year over year, whereas the average price of a townhouse is $1,110,200 which has seen a 6% increase. So condos, even in desirable areas like Downtown, are still accessible.

But, keep in mind, this doesn’t take into account the pent-up demand for ongoing immigration, currently on hold due to the pandemic.

So what does this mean for me? 

If you have been thinking about buying and are interested in Downtown Vancouver, now is the time to start seriously looking. Condo prices are just starting to go back up to pre-covid levels which offer a unique opportunity to get into the market—whether for a home or as an investment rental property.

Once restrictions ease with vaccination rollout expected to be completed by the end of summer, there will once again be a strong desire for housing Downtown. Then, add in these large new office spaces of major tech and finance companies bringing in even more people from across Canada and the world in the next 5+ years, coupled with the already tight supply—there will be a robust demand. Downtown Vancouver is a smart investment and now is the time to buy and we are here to help. 

The West Haven Group can help guide you in making the best property decision for you and your lifestyle. To speak with one of our industry-leading agents, reach out and connect with us!

Property Investing in Downtown Vancouver- Is Now a Good Time?

Property Investing in Downtown Vancouver- Is Now a Good Time?

A change in the seasons is upon us, and property in downtown Vancouver is entering a traditionally good period for the market. With global events leading to lower interest rates, the Vancouver property market is also heating up, as opportunities for better finance become available. Rather than reacting to recent events, however, we’re zooming out and taking a more macro view of the market, so you can decide if now is a good time for you to invest.

Why Is a Macro View Important?

As real estate professionals, it’s our job to extrapolate the current data and market conditions to help you to make more informed decisions. The choice to purchase, or sell, property is and always will be your choice. However, we wanted to sort through some of the available information, to bring you a calmer analysis of the situation, and help you decide whether now is a good time to invest in property in downtown Vancouver.

Case Study: Property Market in Vancouver

For almost 20 years, properties in Vancouver have appreciated in price. Driven by population growth and demand- both locally and from overseas- government intervention has recently become the only thing ensuring affordable housing options still remain.

Moreover, although the market was hit in the 2008 global financial crisis, it had a relatively soft landing, quickly recovered, and went on an almost decade long bull run. This sustained appreciation peaked in July 2017 (for the wider Vancouver area), and has since been in a state of correction- a flow-on effect from new policies, and a very healthy part of all market cycles.

The graph below shows the MLS® HPI pricing chart, which tracks relative price levels by comparing price levels at a point in time to price levels in a base (reference) period. This figure gives us a better overview of market trends since 2005 (pre-GFC), based on pure inflation/deflation, as opposed to the median sale price.

As you can see, there has been a gradual increase in property value since 2009, and even with the recent correction, property values have still risen by almost 100% since 2014.

Narrowing it Down: Property in Downtown Vancouver

In the past few months, buyers have returned to the Vancouver property markets as low-interest rates and investor confidence has begun to rebound, and more properties become available. This has been reflected more strongly in Downtown, as buyer demand continues to increase.

Moreover, when we look at specific locations for property in downtown Vancouver, we can see that traditionally- we are entering a strong period for both sales and demand. For example, we recently analyzed property data for Yaletown, and confirmed that even with the recent market correction, on average, the value of property still increased in spring for the district, and in Vancouver as a whole.

Since the start of the year, the property market has been hot. Data shows that property values and figures are on the rise. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • The seasonal appreciation we tend to see around this time of year

  • New opportunities afforded to us by a low-interest-rate environment

  • The market has had two years to adapt and rebound from the recent mortgage stress test, coinciding with the price decreases we saw across 2018 and 2019.

With Every Challenge Comes Opportunity

Recent data has shown the markets are once again in an uptrend since the 2018 lows, and by taking a macro view of the current economic climate, we can better analyse where the opportunities lay, and help you to make informed decisions.

However, we need to preface this with a simple statement- nobody knows the future. No one can truly predict when markets will rise and fall, by how much, or any other attenuating circumstances that may contribute to these fluctuations.

In addition, it would be remiss of us to not consider the effects of COVID-19, however, we also acknowledge that all of the current panic may just blow over in the coming months.

Early indications would suggest that the recent interest rate cuts have had their desired effect on property markets, and we have already seen markets begin to climb in 2020. If COVID-19 continues to slow global economies, we could see these rates become even more attractive, creating what many would call a ‘jubilee’ year for investing in property.

Couple this with the potential for mortgage stress it may create for some households, and the likelihood of foreclosures also becomes more apparent. For investors, these circumstances may present a never-to-be-seen-again opportunity- particularly in downtown neighbourhoods, which represent some of the most popular and sought after properties in the city.

Where Do the Opportunities Lie?

With every market cycle, there are new opportunities. In stable economies, however, it’s an opportunity that doesn’t come around very often. So, taking into account the possible effects of COVID-19, let’s take a look at where some of the opportunities lie.

First, if global economies continue to slow, loan defaults become more likely. Whilst this isn’t the best outcome for everyone, it does lead to some incredible buying opportunities as banks attempt to recoup the remainder of the loan, rather than the full value of the property. In a low-interest-rate environment, and on the back of a 10-year bull market, your opportunity to take advantage of these circumstances has just increased.

Second, recent legislative changes (coming into effect April 6) have lowered the level that you must qualify for in order to get an insured mortgage, which may serve to increase your borrowing power.

Third, if this virus or other economic impacts affect the market- we may even see interest rates go into the negative. While this concept may be hard to comprehend, if it comes to fruition it is also likely that some very serious economic incentives come into play to help you enter the market. Things such as increased first home buyers grants or other property tax credits. In some cases, we may even see banks pay you to take out a debt position.

Typically, when th
ese ‘black swan’ events play out, the effects are felt across all industries for a minimum of 12-18 months. Although the 2008 GFC saw a decline in Vancouver property prices, it was followed by the strongest property bull market in our recent history.

Those that are able to refinance may be looking at a once in a lifetime chance to acquire and invest in property in downtown Vancouver, ahead of another strong bull market. Furthermore, borrowing against the equity that you have gained over the past decade of appreciation, may present a real investment opportunity for you.

Is Now the Right Time to Invest in Property in Downtown Vancouver?

Low interest rates are seeing an increase in purchasing across the city, and as it stands the Vancouver property market is currently in an uptrend. Add to that the fact we are entering Spring- which usually sees property values appreciate- and these market conditions have created the perfect seller’s market.

So far in 2020, it’s been a strong seller’s market for condos under $1M and for houses under $2M, and there are bidding wars happening everywhere in these segments. The current demand is also a result of lower supply, and the ability for households to borrow more at lower interest rates, adding to portfolios and refinancing to take advantage of this environment. As to whether it’s a good time for you to sell or invest- that is and always will be your decision.

If you are considering selling your condo, or the possibility of acquiring another- we’re here to help! As industry experts, it’s our job to help you find the right investments and make the right choices now, for potential gains in the future. To see how our team at the West Haven Group can help, or for up to date market information, reach out and connect.