Slow and Steady Through the Third Quarter in the Vancouver Commercial Real Estate Market
Investment volumes throughout 2019 have been steady with each quarter registering between $1.7 billion and $1.8 billion, a significant change from 2018’s performance when the average was $3.2 billion. Year-to-date, overall transaction volume declined by 49% to $5.2 billion with total deal count dropping by 30%. The primary contributor to the decline in investment in 2019 was the residential land market, which registered $1.4 billion, about one third of the volume in the same period last year, and equivalent to the average quarterly total volume in 2018. When including share sales activity, overall investment volume for 2019 dropped by 46% from the previous year with several notable transactions closing mid-year. The latest Q3 2019 results from Altus Group’s Investment Trends Survey showed that momentum in the buy/sell ratio remained positive for the Vancouver market, which also had the lowest cap rates across all major markets in Canada, maintaining its rate from the previous quarter.
(Vancouver Property Transactions – All Sectors by Quarter)
The ICI land market, with an array of uses including industrial and agricultural uses, has not experienced the same decrease in activity as the residential land market, but did record a 27% decline in investment volumes to $1.3 billion through the first three quarters of 2019 when compared to the same time frame in 2018. Despite the decline, ICI land was the top contributor to Q3 2019, representing 25% of all investment volume. The top five transactions of the quarter were industrial land sales, taking place in Surrey, Delta, and Port Coquitlam, representing 71.6 acres at an average price per acre of $2.3 million.
Through the first three quarters of 2019, the office and industrial markets represent the only assets to record investment volume increases compared to 2018, 8% and 2% respectively.
For the first three quarters of 2019, the office market posted an 8% increase in sales volume and a 19% increase in transactions compared to the same period last year. The uplift in Q3 was primarily a result of construction being completed and sales registered at the International Trade Centre at Versante, a new mixed-use development in north Richmond with a significant office component that recorded 15 transactions over $1,000,000 in Q3 2019, with the average price per square foot being $648.
(Q3 2019 Vancouver Property Transactions – Total Dollar Volume by Sector)
The industrial sector remained almost at par in sales volume year-to-date compared to last year, with deal counts rising by 18%. Altus Group’s Investment Trends Survey showed that single and multi-tenant industrial were the top two preferred asset classes in the market which had positive momentum from the previous quarter results. The top two transactions of the quarter occurred in the City of Surrey. CanFirst Capital Management acquired a 315,128 square foot facility, Fama Business Park, for $66.2 million, and a local private investor acquired a 111,374 square foot industrial facility located in the Campbell Heights North Business Park for $29 million. The balance of the remaining top transactions occurred throughout the Vancouver Market Area in Vancouver, Maple Ridge, Abbotsford and Richmond. Purchasers that were active in the $10M+ segment included a REIT, developers, end users and local private investors.
Year-to-date activity in the apartment market weakened with volume and transactions dropping by 45% and 42%, respectively, compared to the same period last year. The third quarter of 2019 recorded $238 million in total sales, which was a 77% increase compared to the same quarter last year and a total that exceeds the three-year running average. 61% of the investment totals for Q3 were the result of two transactions. The first, Montecito Towers, a concrete, 252-unit complex located in north Burnaby, was acquired by Starlight Investments for $90 million. The second, a 146-unit, concrete and wood framed rental complex in the City Centre area of Surrey, was acquired by Centurion Apartment REIT for a total consideration of $56 million
“Overall the Vancouver market appears to be stagnant and stuck at levels not seen since 2015, however, a closer look indicates the prevalence of a wide range of purchasers ready to acquire quality improved assets, particularly in the office and industrial markets. Vancouver continues to suffer from supply issues in this regard and we expect new construction projects to only partly satisfy the demand,” noted Paul Richter, Director, Data Solutions at Altus Group.
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