Local buyers, including a hefty portion of investors, have sparked a pre-sale condominium sales boom in the Metro Vancouver suburbs, with a string of new projects still under construction selling out hundreds of units within hours.
“The market is crazy right now,” said Jeremy Towning, vice-president of SwissReal Group, which just completed the sellout of its 143-unit ERA low-rise strata project in Maple Ridge that began marketing a year ago.
Sales had been fairly steady until recently, Towning said.
“A light switch came on” in the past few weeks, he said. “Someone would buy and then the whole family would buy.”
On a single day – April 25 - the last 10 of 30 townhouses sold at an average price of $720,000. All 112 condo units in the low-rise development in downtown Maple Ridge sold in the $500,000 to $600,000 range.
As in other projects that are seeing sizzling pre-sales this spring, ERA buyers were all local, a change from former pre-sale surges that were often dominated by foreign investors.
In Port Moody, the 50 Electronic Avenue complex, by Panatch Group, has sold out 358 condominiums. Panatch president Kush Panatch said sales accelerated since January.
It took one year to sell the first 258 units and less than three months to sell out the last 100, he said.
“When we launched [the second phase] last March, just as the pandemic was starting, it would take buyers four to six weeks to make a decision to buy. By this March, decisions were being made in a day,” he said, even though Panatch raised prices by from $10,000 to $50,000 per condo unit.
Fast as these pre-sales are, they are pikers compared to recent Surrey condo blow outs.
On Saturday, April 24 in a nearly-deserted sales centre, due to COVID-19 restrictions, developer Charon Sethi, president of Tien Sher Group, sat down at a laptop at 10 a.m. to virtually sign pre-sale contracts. An hour later all 141 units in his Q5 condo project on Whaley Boulevard had sold. This broke the record for Tien Sher pre-sales, eclipsing the 67 minutes it took to sell out Tien Sher’s 116-unit Quattro 2 project back in 2007.
Q5 prices started at $259,900 for studio apartment and, like other recent lower-priced projects, many of the buyers were investors.
In a weekend sales blitz in March, 275 units in the 30-storey Belvedere tower in Surrey City Centre sold in less than 72 hours. The homes were released on Friday, March 22 and by Sunday, March 24, the entire tower was sold out. Developed by Square Nine Developments, Belvedere pre-sale prices started at $350,000 for a 450-square foot studio unit, which is considered a relatively low price for a concrete tower in Metro Vancouver.
Developers make no bones about targeting local investors. Many condo developers allow rental units in their projects and nearly all will allow investors to sell assignments – where the condo is flipped to another buyer before it completes - for a modest per centage on the “lift” in value, sometimes, as with SwissReal, as low as 1 per cent, or a flat fee that can be as low as $500.