Commercial real estate sales activity in the Lower Mainland declined from the record highs of one year ago and remained above the region’s long-term historical sales average in 2017.

There were 2,591 commercial real estate sales in the Lower Mainland in 2017, a 10.4 per cent decrease from the record 2,891 sales in 2016, according to data from Commercial Edge, a commercial real estate system operated by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV).

Commercial real estate sales in 2017 were 11.1 per cent above the region’s five-year sales average.

The total dollar value of commercial real estate sales in the Lower Mainland was $15.733 billion in 2017, a 14.5 per cent increase from $13.746 billion in 2016.

“While commercial sales declined from the record pace of 2016, the total dollar value of the activity continued to rise,” said Jill Oudil, REBGV president. “The strong economic and employment growth in our province last year helped drive our commercial real estate market in 2017.”

Activity by category in 2017

Land: There were 1,061 commercial land sales in 2017, which is an 11.3 per cent decrease from the 1,196 land sales in 2016. The dollar value of land sales was $8.708 billion in 2017, a 15.5 per cent increase from $7.537 billion in 2016.

Office and Retail: There were 888 office and retail sales in the Lower Mainland in 2017, which is down 3.8 per cent from the 923 sales in 2016. The dollar value of office and retail sales was $4.464 billion in 2017, a 15 per cent increase from $3.883 billion in 2016.

Industrial: There were 527 industrial land sales in the Lower Mainland in 2017, which is down 15.8 per cent from the 626 sales in 2016. The dollar value of industrial sales was $1.238 billion in 2017, a three per cent increase from $1.202 billion in 2016.

Multi-Family: There were 115 multi-family land sales in the Lower Mainland in 2017, which is down 21.2 per cent over the 146 sales in 2016. The dollar value of multi-family sales was $1.324 billion in 2017, a 17.8 per cent increase from $1.124 billion in 2016.

Canadian housing starts increased 6.7 per cent on a monthly basis in February to 229,737 units at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR).  The six-month trend in Canadian housing starts rose to 225,276 units SAAR.

In BC, total housing starts fell 26 per cent monthly basis to 30,622 units SAAR with both single and multiple unit starts posting monthly declines of over 20 per cent. On a year-over-year basis, total starts in the province were 9 per cent higher.

Looking at census metropolitan areas (CMA) in BC:

  • Total starts in the Vancouver CMA were down 37 per cent on a monthly basis at 20,000 units SAAR but were 12 per cent higher compared to February of last year.  Construction activity is particularly strong in the condo markets of Burnaby, the North Shore and the city of Vancouver.
  • In the Victoria CMA, housing starts nearly tripled on a monthly basis to an annualized rate of almost 4,000 units due to a number of multiple unit projects breaking ground. Total starts in the Victoria CMA were up 48 per cent year-over-year. Construction activity is being driven by new apartment rentals and condos.
  • The Kelowna CMA saw housing starts decline over 60 per cent on a monthly basis in February with relatively little new construction occurring in the month. The CMHC counted just 22 single units and 15 multiple unit starts.
  • Housing starts in the Abbotsford-Mission CMA  increased 200 per cent year-over-year as construction of more than 300 new multiple units got underway in February.  However, the annualized pace of starts fell 6 per cent from January at just under 800 units SAAR.

Vancouver, BC – February 27, 2018. The BCREA Commercial Leading Indicator (CLI) increased for the fourth consecutive year, rising 0.4 points in the fourth quarter of 2017 to 135.7. That increase represents a 0.3 per cent rise over the second quarter and a 6.7 per cent increase from one year ago.

“The BC economy continued to thrive in the fourth quarter of 2017,” says BCREA Economist Brendon Ogmundson. “Increased activity in key commercial real estate sectors contributed to a fourth consecutive year of a rising CLI, mirroring the last four years of robust economic growth.”

The underlying CLI trend, which smooths often noisy economic data, continues to push higher due to strong provincial economic and employment growth. That uptrend signals further growth in investment, leasing and other commercial real estate activity over the next two to four quarters.


1. Has gone from 15% to 20%, effective today.
2. Contracts written before Feb. 20, 2018 with a closing on or before May, 2018 are exempted, but only for Capital Regional District, Fraser Valley Regional District, Regional District of Central Okanagan or Nanaimo Regional District. Note this exemption does not apply in Greater Vancouver.
3. Transfers pursuant to court order, order nisi of foreclosure, separation agreement, transfer from personal rep of deceased’s estate to beneficiary or transfer to surviving joint tenant are also exempt, provided the triggering event occurred before Feb. 20, 2018.
4. This tax applies to the Capital Regional District, Fraser Valley Regional District, Regional District of Central Okanagan, Nanaimo Regional District and Greater Vancouver. The areas for each region can be found at
5. Only on residential property; if property is farmland or commercial with a residential component, tax applies on the residential component.
6. Exemption for BC Provincial Nominee Program still applies.


1. Tax is meant to target foreign and domestic homeowners who do not pay income tax in B.C.
2. Tax will apply to same areas as foreign buyers tax apart from Okanagan, where it only applies to Kelowna and West Kelowna.
3. Starts in 2018 at $5.00 per $1,000.00 of assessed value, goes up to $20 in 2019.
4. Not sure how this will affect vacation homes, nor when this tax is payable.


1. Tax rises from 3% to 5% on value of homes over $3,000,000.00.
2. Remains at 1% on first $200,000.00, 2% on amounts between $200,000.00 and $2,000,000; 3% on amounts between $2,000,000.00 and $3,000,000.00 and 5% on amounts over $3,000,000.00.


1. Developers will collect and report information about pre-sale condo purchases; nothing else in budget about pre-sale contracts or assignments that we have seen.


1. This program is now cancelled – don’t think it was used much anyway.

Hope this all makes sense, the next few weeks will be interesting.

Vancouver, BC – February 15, 2018. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 5,306 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) across the province in January, an increase of 18.3 per cent from the same period last year. The average MLS® residential price in BC was $721,477, up 16.2 per cent from the previous year. Total sales dollar volume was $3.83 billion, a 37.4 per cent increase from January 2017.

“BC home sales dipped 10 per cent from December to January, on a seasonally adjusted basis,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “New mortgage rules requiring conventional borrowers to qualify at a higher interest rate likely contributed to the decline in home sales last month. The impact was magnified by a strong December as many households advanced their purchase decisions ahead of the policy’s implementation.”

Despite the decline in January transactions, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of home sales was 101,800 units.

Compared to January 2017, market conditions tightened in all BC board areas except Victoria, where the sales-to-active listings ratio declined from 46.3 per cent to 40.5 per cent. Despite this decline, Victoria remains in strong sellers’ market territory. Total active listings in the province were down 8.6 per cent to 20,901 units, compared to the same period last year.

Steady sales and diminished listings characterize 2017 for the Metro Vancouver housing market

After reaching record levels in 2015 and 2016, Metro Vancouver home sales returned to more historically normal levels in 2017. Home listings, on the other hand, came in several thousand units below typical activity.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that sales of detached, attached and apartment properties reached 35,993 on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in 2017, a 9.9 per cent decrease from the 39,943 sales recorded in 2016, and a 15 per cent decrease over the 42,326 residential sales in 2015.

Last year’s sales total was, however, 9.7 per cent above the 10-year sales average.

“It was a steady year for home sales across the region, led by condominium and townhome activity, and a quieter year for home listings,” Jill Oudil, REBGV president said. “Metro Vancouver home sales were the third highest we’ve seen in the past ten years while the home listings total was the second lowest on record for the same period.”

Home listings in Metro Vancouver reached 54,655 in 2017. This is a 5.1 per cent decrease compared to the 57,596 homes listed in 2016 and a 4.5 per cent decrease compared to the 57,249 homes listed in 2015.

Last year’s listings total was 4.4 per cent below the 10-year listings average.

“Market activity differed considerably this year based on property type,” Oudil said. “Competition was intense in the condominium and townhome markets, with multiple offer situations becoming commonplace. The detached home market operated in a more balanced state, giving home buyers more selection to choose from and more time to make decisions.”

The MLS® HPI composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver ends the year at $1,050,300. This is up 15.9 per cent compared to December 2016.

The benchmark price of condominiums increased 25.9 per cent in the region last year. Townhomes increased 18.5 per cent and detached homes increased 7.9 per cent.

“Strong economic growth, low interest rates, declining unemployment, increasing wages and a growing population all helped boost home buyer demand in our region last year,” Oudil said.

December summary

Sales of detached, attached, and apartment properties totalled 2,016 in the region in December 2017, a 17.6 per cent increase from the 1,714 sales recorded in December 2016 and a 27.9 per cent decrease compared to November 2017 when 2,795 homes sold.

Last month’s sales were 7.5 per cent above the 10-year sales average for the month.

“As we move into 2018, REALTORS® are working with their clients to help them understand how changing interest rates and the federal government’s new mortgage qualifications could affect their purchasing power,” Oudil said. “Only time will tell what impact these rules will have on the market.

The developer of an 89-acre historic industrial site in Coquitlam is attempting to jettison warehouses and workspace in favour of 1,000 more condos, though an industrial shortage is driving prices to record highs.
Coquitlam’s industrial vacancy rate is 1.6 per cent, which is up from a record low of 0.5 per cent a year ago, according to commercial agency Avison Young.
Industrial lease rates have shot up to an average of $11.07 per square foot, third-highest in Metro Vancouver. Scarce industrial sites are topping $1.2 million per acre.
Industrial tenants had looked to the development of 800,000 square feet at the former Fraser Mills sawmill, which would represent 10% of the city’s total industrial inventory.
But developer Beedie Development has submitted a revised proposal to Coquitlam council that cuts 30 per cent of industrial on the waterfront site.
The company’s plans, which have yet to receive all of the required council approvals, are substantially different from 2008 when it first gained approval for the redevelopment.
The developer wants to add 1,000 more residential units to the 3,400 to 3,700 units currently approved, which would mean increasing the number of towers from 10 to 15.
At least one would be 41 storeys, compared with a maximum of 12 floors under the original plan. Beedie also apparently plans to speed development by cutting the construction phases from 16 to nine.
Fraser Mills industrial space would be reduced by 252,000 square feet.
If approved next year, it would be built out over the next decade, according to Beedie.
Ryan Beedie, president of Beedie Living, said the changes will make the development “more economically viable.”
Currently, new highrise condominiums in Coquitlam are selling for north of $750 per square foot.
Beedie Living itself has experienced Coquitlam’s white-hot industrial demand.
It has two speculative industrial buildings underway for lease at Fraser Mills and a third being custom-built for AG Hair, a Burnaby cosmetic maker that ships product around the world.
There has been a “ton of interest” for leasing the remaining 120,000 square feet, said leasing agent Greg Lane of Colliers International.
Beedie is considering only tenant applications that match a specific profile.
“We are taking our time,” Lane said. “We want to have job creation, such as clean manufacturing.”
The limited industrial space in Coquitlam has also spurred strata speculation. Teck Construction LLP sold out all 27 units of its spec play at Coquitlam’s Nicola Avenue Business Park this year before the shovels even hit the ground. The 68,700-square-foot complex opens this spring.
Strata industrial space in Coquitlam sells for around $280 per square foot.
Fraser Mills was once was a large, heavy-industrial site but residential will mostly swallow it up.
That’s worrisome, said Michael Hind, CEO of the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce. “We’ve exhausted all industrial land in Coquitlam.”
Hind said other than a 120-acre parcel of land in Port Coquitlam being developed by the Kwikwetlem First Nation there’s not much industrial land to be had anywhere in the Tri-Cities, which includes Coquitlam.
David Munro, Coquitlam’s economic development officer, agreed there’s a lack of industrial but he said the city is also creating opportunities for businesses fleeing even higher rental rates or property prices closer to Vancouver.
“Yes, we are losing businesses, but there’s other businesses that are coming in and taking up those spaces,” Munro said.
The Fraser Mills changes require adjustments to Coquitlam’s official community plan and zoning bylaws and public consultation, which would likely not finish until at least mid-year 2018, said James McIntyre, the city’s general manager for planning and development.

Copyright © 2017 Western Investor

Canadian housing starts increased 2 per cent in September to 222,771 units at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR).  The six-month trend in Canadian housing starts also increased to 216,770  units SAAR.

New home construction in BC jumped 44 per cent on a monthly basis to 53,751 units SAAR  and more than doubled on  a year-over-year basis.  Single detached starts were down 6 per cent from one year ago while multiple unit starts nearly tripled year-over-year.

Looking at census metropolitan areas (CMA) in BC:

  • Total starts in the Vancouver CMA reached a 12-month high in October, rising 92 per cent from September and 186 per cent compared to September 2016. A surge in multiple unit starts to 2,532 units in October accounted for the large increase in new home construction with large condominium projects getting underway in Burnaby, Coquitlam and Surrey.
  • In the Victoria CMA market, housing starts continue to record significant gains, rising 267 per cent year-over-year. Multiple unit starts continue to drive new home construction, with starts more than 5 times the levels seen in October 2016.
  • New home construction in the Kelowna CMA was down 16 per cent year-over-year and down 61 per cent from a strong September of new home construction.
  • Housing starts in the Abbotsford-Mission CMA also fell in October, with both single and multiple units starts down more than 30 per cent year-over-year.

The Bank of Canada announced this morning that it is maintaining its target for the overnight rate at 1 per cent. In the press release accompanying the decision, the Bank noted that inflation has edged up slightly and is expected to return to its target of 2 per cent in the second half of 2018 while economic growth is forecast to slow in the final six months of this year following a very strong first half.  The Bank emphasized that it will be cautious in making future adjustments to its policy rate as it assesses the sensitivity of the economy to higher interest rates.

There are several factors influencing the Bank’s decision to move to the sidelines. Recent economic data points to a slowing of growth from the soaring heights of the first half of 2017. Moreover, inflation remains muted and newly announced tightening of mortgage regulations will have a significant impact on households, particularly in a rising mortgage rate environment. We expect that the Bank will take a wait and see approach over the next few months as the impact of its previous rate tightening takes hold.

Canadian manufacturing sales rebounded 1.6 per cent in August following two consecutive months of falling output.  Sales were up in only 8 of 21 manufacturing sub-sectors, with the majority of growth arising due to higher sales in the transportation equipment and energy sectors.

In BC, manufacturing sales increased 0.8 per cent on a monthly basis and were up 5.2 per cent year-over-year. Strong gains continued in the wood products sector, along with very strong growth in machinery, and transportation equipment manufacturing. A growing manufacturing base has helped push employment higher across the province, supporting housing demand making strong contributions to BC’s economy in 2017