Strength Continues in Condo Market

Nicola Way, for The Vancouver Sun
March 27, 2008

With multi-family unit starts in Metro Vancouver rising by 129 per cent in February compared to the same month last year, consumer confidence in condo buying has clearly not been dented despite a small yet high-profile number of condo towers going into receivership along with prices reaching $1,000 per square foot in Coal Harbour.

With one in four homebuyers opting to purchase a new build, the number of enquiries for the condo pre-sales, assignments and resales listed on the independent web site,, are increasing, founder Nicola Way says.

An average 1-bedroom pre-sale condo in Yaletown in 2005, from the web site's statistics, was selling for around $275,000. Now, it is nearly impossible to find one under $400,000 - a 45-per-cent increase. On the world map, however, downtown Vancouver and high profile recreational developments in popular areas of B.C. (such as Victoria's Bear Mountain Golf Resort $450,000 and Revelstoke Mountain Resort mid-$400,000s) still compare favourably. Similar pre-sale condos in Sydney cost $475,000 and in San Francisco, $535,000.

As the median price of new condo developments in Vancouver continues to rise, it is obvious that the market is hungry for more affordable homes in emerging neighbourhoods.

In the Gastown and Crosstown areas where you can get much more bang for your buck, statistics show that consumer confidence is still strong. Last year, The Salient Group sold out their Paris Block and Garage developments in one evening with 1-bedroom units in Paris Block costing from the high $200,000s. The second phase, although priced higher, is still anticipated to be below the current average new condo price in Vancouver.

Is there a fail-safe strategy for buying a condo? The short answer is no, but the old adage of location, location, location goes a long way to assisting the purchaser when deciding between the overwhelming number of developments. Look at the current transit system and what is planned for the future. Consider the local amenities - schools, grocery stores, community centres. The main reason that buyers are attracted to downtown condo life still withstands - living with all the conveniences that the city offers on your doorstep; plus, in the case of new builds, the ability to own something brand new which involves innovative use of space, modern energy efficiency, and the ability to personalize the unit through choices of options and upgrades.

Take into account the facilities that the development provides - fitness centres, spas and swimming pools are popular as it is much more convenient to take the elevator a few floors than walk Vancouver's rainy streets to the local gym. Is your building pet-friendly? Increasing numbers of pet owners in Vancouver ensure that more and more developments are accepting four-legged friends. Research the interior aesthetics. Many developments include either black or white appliances and carpeted interiors but by paying extra to upgrade to stainless steel and hardwood flooring may be money well spent as trends dictate that this is the preferred choice. If you are really canny at the pre-sale launch, many developers are open to negotiating a decorating fee. So keen are they to sell a set number of pre-sales in order to obtain financing that such improvements can be incorporated into the purchase price.

Remember that square footage is decreasing as price points continue to rise and unit mix is now more important than ever when marketing a development. Having the right mix of desired features in a building, is an all-important key to ensuring your purchase is a successful one.

Nicola Way is the Owner of, an independent, Vancouver-based web site which lists Realtors' assignment, pre-sale and resale properties since 2004.