Go Big: Multi-family and commercial projected for continued strong growth in 2020 says new report

New report by Morguard Corp. paints a positive picture for multi-suite residential sectors

Clayton Jarvis
Canadian Real Estate Wealth

Earlier this month, Mississauga, Ontario-based real estate management company Morguard Corporation released its Economic Outlook and Market Fundamentals report. In its exploration of the trends driving Canada’s commercial, industrial, office, retail and multi-suite residential sectors, the report paints a decidedly positive picture of the prospects facing Canada’s non-residential investors.

Heading into 2020, the office and purpose-built multi-family spaces are both expected to reward investors handsomely, as surging demand collides with growing, but still insufficient levels of supply.

The Morguard report expects competition for desirable properties in each category to be intense, with bidding wars pushing prices into uncomfortable, profit-challenging territory. Investors with the means to build either purpose-built apartments or commercial properties that take into consideration the needs of a new generation of office tenants may find themselves better off than those who slug their way through continuous bidding wars.

Office Office leasing market fundamentals continued to strengthen over the course of 2019. At the end of the third quarter, the national vacancy rate for office space was 12.4 percent. (It was only 9.8 percent for downtown properties.) With supply at historical lows and demand hitting new heights in many Canadian cities, the returns on office properties continue to impress. For the year ending June 2019, the national average return for office space was a hearty 7.3 percent. Montreal (9.3), Toronto (9.7) and Vancouver (10.6) all posted above-average rates of return.

“It’s a good time to be a landlord because there’s very little space, especially downtown,” says Keith Reading, Morguard’s director of research. There is plenty of new product coming to market, Reading says, but not enough “to really have a significant impact on what’s already a pretty tight market.”

Much of the pressure being put on the office sector is coming from tech companies and shared workspace providers. “A lot of companies are looking for flexible options in terms of where to locate their employees as opposed to the old-fashioned long-term lease,” Reading says. The growth of these two spaces won’t be slowing any time soon, but to target them properly, investors will need to provide amenities and location in addition to the requisite amount of space.

Investors with their ear to the ground may wonder if a year in which global economic growth is expected to shrink is one where commercial properties make sense as a real estate play. Reading says it is.

“Even with an economy that is in a slow growth period – even if we see just one percent growth in 2020 – that’s still more than enough that conditions will stay pretty similar to what they are over the next year or so.”

Purpose-built apartments Citing CMHC data, the Morguard report says apartment vacancy rates fell in 2019 in Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Halifax and Ottawa. As home prices and immigration rates both climb, apartment vacancy rates will continue to fall.

“There aren’t enough rental apartments to go around, pretty much across the country,” says Reading, who adds that approximately 25,000 apartments would be needed to be built annually to keep up with the demand in Toronto alone. Slightly more than 50,000 were brought to market in the entire country in 2019.

The opportunity is clearly there for cash-flush investors willing to take the plunge.

“With the building side, there’s always an element of risk because you’re constructing something and you have to rent it out. But if you look at where vacancy rates are across much of the country, if you’re going to build a new purpose-built rental building it’s going to rent up,” Reading says. “You’re not going to have an issue.”

Reading encourages investors considering the apartment space to take a page from condo developers’ books and design them with the next generation of renter’s sensibilities in mind. Today’s stock of purpose-built apartments is generally boring and anonymous, but that’s primarily because it hasn’t been updated in ages.

“If you look at the last couple of decades, the amount of new construction [of purpose-built apartment properties] has been minimal,” Reading says. “It’s only really picked up in the last year or two.”

Competing against condos, especially in Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver, may seem like a fool’s errand. But as more and more Canadians become renters for life, a growing number of them will come to desire a sturdy, stylish alternative to living cooped up in a tiny glass box.

Copyright © 2020 Key Media Pty Ltd

Demand for rental units outstrips supply

National rental vacancy rate at 2.2%

Gerv Tacadena
Canadian Real Estate Wealth

The demand for rental apartment units continued to outshine the housing supply in 2019, leading to the third consecutive annual decline in the national vacancy rate to 2.2%, according to the recent figures from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

The national vacancy rate hit its lowest level for all bedroom types since 2002, said CMHC chief economist Bob Dugan.

“The national vacancy rate for purpose-built rental apartments declined for a third consecutive year in 2019, as strong rental demand continued to outpace growth in supply. Low vacancy rates in major centres underscore the need for increased rental supply to ensure access to affordable housing,” he said.

Rental demand remains elevated in Vancouver and Toronto, with vacancy rates in these markets remaining amongst the lowest in Canada in 2019 at 1.1% and 1.5%, respectively. 

The Montréal Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) vacancy rate reached a 15-year low at 1.5%, driving the national decline. Halifax also reported a dip in its vacancy rate to 1%.

Vacancy rates in most other CMAs remained stable, including the major prairie markets of Calgary (3.9%), Regina (7.8%), and Winnipeg (3.1%).

The drop in vacancy rates resulted in an increase in average rents. A two-bedroom apartment, for instance, witnessed a 3.9% gain in average rent from October 2018 to October 2019.

Toronto reported the highest growth in average rents for a two-bedder unit at 6.1%, followed by Vancouver’s 4.9%, Halifax’s 3.7%, and Montréal’s 3.4%.  The highest rent, however, was recorded in Vancouver at $1.748.

Copyright © 2020 Key Media Pty Ltd

Vancouver poised to get back on its feet

Greater Vancouver housing market shows modest growth

Gerv Tacadena
Canadian Real Estate Wealth

The housing market of Greater Vancouver is projected to witness a modest growth this year after a weak 2019, according to the latest forecast by Royal LePage.

During the fourth quarter of the year, the region showed signs of improvement. The aggregate price of a home in Greater Vancouver decreased by 4.8%, improving from the 5.2% drop recorded during the preceding quarter.

The median price of a standard two-storey home and bungalow in Greater Vancouver declined by 4.7%, while the median value of a condominium unit went down by 3.4%.

The region’s increased sales volume and shrinking inventory are signs pointing to a recovery, said Randy Ryalls, general manager of Royal LePage Sterling Realty.

“We’re likely to see some moderate price growth after last year’s decline in prices. The window of opportunity for buyers to get a deal is closing quickly for most typical buyers. There remain some excellent opportunities in the luxury market,” he said.

Ryalls said the region remains healthy for both buyers and sellers.

“Sellers were able to purchase a new home and then sell their current property in a pretty short window,” he said.

Copyright © 2020 Key Media Pty Ltd

Canadian office sector to see even more space allocated to flex plans

Avison Young predicted flexible offices will remain

Ephraim Vecina
Mortgage Broker News

For Canadian office workers, the future still appears to be the shared floor plan.

Despite WeWork being in crisis mode in Canada for much of the second half of 2019, flexible offices will likely remain one of the commercial sector’s hottest growth areas this year, Avison Young predicted in its newly released 2020 Forecast.

“As a market disruptor, it’s not surprising that WeWork received disproportionate levels of attention for cancelling its public offering,” Avison Young stated. “But we all know its instincts are correct.”

A major driver of this trend is the impact of tech advances, especially in the communications sphere, on the very nature of what it means to work.

“The world is in the early stages of a transformational period as the technological revolution takes over from globalization as the primary driver of business change. For all sorts of reasons, workplace flexibility is at the forefront of occupiers’ minds.”

Employment demographics are also playing a large part in this shift. “The talented individuals that employers want to target are increasingly drawn from the Millennial and Gen Z cohorts. Like it or not, this talent is making new demands for, amongst other things, work/life integration and a more dynamic work environment.”

Moreover, “there is also a growing need for occupiers to flex in and out of space to react to economic cycles, to reconfigure it to drive efficiencies and to remain nimble by adapting space to special projects or assignments.

Avison Young estimated that at present, flexible set-ups represent around 5% of the nation’s office space.

“Within ten years, this is expected to make a transformative leap to 15-30%. That’s because this is no longer just about freelancers and start-ups; this is smart thinking across all businesses. For occupiers and institutional owners, the future is the core-and-flex combo.”

Copyright © 2020 Key Media

Briza 10616 132 Street Surrey a 5 storey building with 61 condos and 4 townhouses by Genaris properties

Location, value drive interest in Briza

Simon Briault
The Vancouver Sun

Briza is a 65-unit condo and townhouse development planned for central Surrey. There’s lots to recommend it. But the most noteworthy thing,  according to both the developer and some buyers who have already signed up, is the pricing, with homes in the current inventory beginning at well below $300,000.

The company behind the project is a relatively new player on the residential development scene, but Genaris Properties is already getting plenty of things done: single-family homes, townhomes and, with Briza, condos.

“The inspiration for our name comes from sui generis, which is Latin for something that is unique and of its own kind,” said Dharam Dhillon, one of the principals of Genaris Properties. “That’s the approach we take to every single one of our developments.”

Briza is nestled between two SkyTrain stations – Surrey Central and Gateway – so residents will get the benefit of all the local amenities, and be able to tap into everything that Vancouver and the rest of the Lower Mainland has to offer.

“I have some amazing memories from growing up in Surrey,” said Dhillon. “Briza not only gives you access to all these great amenities to build your own memories, but it’s also in an area that’s transitioning and turning into something very special. If you buy into this development and work in Vancouver, you’ll have the convenience of being able to hop on a SkyTrain within walking distance and then you have everything on your doorstep when you get home.”

The website for Briza includes a map that is peppered with locations for dining, banking, recreation and shopping. Central City shopping centre is within walking distance and features 140 stores, restaurants, services, Simon Fraser University campus, and an office tower.

Genaris Properties’ five-storey, wood-frame development will include condos and five townhomes, Most homes at Briza feature outdoor spaces overlooking Surrey City Centre or green space. There is secure underground parking for residents and visitors, nine-foot ceilings in all homes and laminate flooring throughout.

Kitchens feature soft-close cabinetry, elongated chevron pattern backsplashes and engineered quartz countertops. There are undermount single-bowl sinks and black Moen faucets with flexible pull-out spray hoses. The appliance packages – fridge-freezers, ranges, dishwashers and microwaves – are by Blomberg.

Bathrooms feature walls that highlight penny-round tile with contrasting grout colour, custom vanities in a velvet matte finish and undermount porcelain sinks. There are walk-in showers in all ensuites. Other features? Custom mirrors with storage shelves in black and white, dual-flush toilets for smart water consumption and tile flooring in all bathrooms.

“It’s a perfectly sized development in my opinion – not so big that you don’t know your neighbours, but big enough to create a vibrant cultural and family atmosphere,” Dhillon said. “There’s also a great unit mix. We’ve got studios for people who are living on their own and family-sized spaces for people who are downsizing or who have kids going to the local schools.”

The project is scheduled to be completed some time in 2022, but Maria Carlos saw the benefits of getting in early and has bought a studio apartment at Briza.

“The price, the quality and the location were the things I most liked about Briza when I saw it,” she said. “It’s expensive in that neighbourhood, but this place was a very, very good deal. It’s near to where all the action is. There’s a lot of development in the area and I think as it gets built up, Briza will be part of that urban core.”

Carlos is one of many who have shown an interest in Briza, according to Dhillon, who is keen to point out the diversity of the development’s buyer demographic.

“The intention with Briza is not only to make it accessible in terms of lifestyle and location, but also financially,” he said. “We wanted to make sure that nobody is priced out. We’ve had a lot of folks from the area and that’s been really encouraging for us. We’ve put our heart and soul into this project and it’s nice that it resonates with people who already live in the neighbourhood.”

“There have also been people from South Surrey who realize that there’s nothing better than being a stone’s throw from the SkyTrain station,” Dhillon added. “They work in Vancouver and this location gives them an extra half hour in their day and you can’t put a price on time.”

There is no sales centre for Briza, but potential buyers can contact the developers by phone or online.

“It’s not going to cost you an arm and a leg to live here and you’re not going to be putting your entire paycheque towards a mortgage,” said Dhillon. “This development is for everyone and so is the price.”


Project location: 10616 — 132nd St., Surrey

Project size: Briza is a five-storey, wood frame condo development (including five townhouses). Homes in current inventory range from 421 to 1,243 square feet and priced from $270,900

Developer: Genaris Properties

Architect: Creekside Architects

Interior designer: BAM Interiors

Sales phone: 604-721-5460

Website: http://www.brizasurrey.com

© 2020 Postmedia Network Inc.

303 – 1680 Bayshore home takes in stunning outlooks

Sold (Bought): Coal Harbour home takes in stunning outlooks

Nicola Way
The Vancouver Sun

303 – 1680 Bayshore Drive, Vancouver

Type: Two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment

Size: 1,132 sq. ft.

B.C. Assessment: $1,318,000

Listed for: $1,645,000

Sold for: $1,542,000

Sold on: Nov. 24

Days on market in this listing: 48

Listing agent: Holly Wood at Sotheby’s International Realty Canada

Buyers agent: Les Twarog at ReMax Crest Realty

The big sell: The Bayshore Gardens development in downtown Vancouver’s Coal Harbour neighbourhood comprises seven luxury highrise condominium towers on Bayshore Drive. This home is in one of these: Bayshore Towers, with 90 strata units that were constructed in 2002. The corner-unit home features northwesterly vistas of the water, marina, Stanley Park and mountains and an interior with two 13-foot-long bedrooms, a walk-in closet off the master, two full bathrooms and a flex room. There are overheight ceilings, a view balcony, air conditioning, a gas fireplace and cooktop, and new carpets and paintwork. Amenities include 24-hour concierge, a fitness centre and sauna. This property has a monthly maintenance fee of $828.84 and pets and rentals are permitted.

© 2020 Postmedia Network Inc.