Condo presales bounce back in downtown Vancouver

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After zero successful launches of presale condo projects in downtown Vancouver over the past three years, the only presale tower on the market saw 100 units sell in a two-day blitz in June.

The sudden resurgence has persuaded developer Amacon to launch presales at the Block, a hotel-anchored, 160-unit condo tower in the 100 block of Robson Street, and other stalled core projects are expected to restart.

“Downtown demand is about to surge,” said Ryan Lalonde, with the market research team at MLA Canada.

The downtown is catching up with suburban markets, which led a rally that saw 3,000 presale condos released in 20 new projects in June, the highest level since November of 2018, according to MLA.

Pattison Group and Reliance Properties kicked off sales of 2 Burrard Place in late June and sold more than 100 condos (out of 239 offered) in the first two days.

Urban Analytics said the early success of 2 Burrard Place is being watched by developers whose projects have been in limbo.

“Downtown Vancouver felt the brunt of government housing policies and taxes introduced in 2018, resulting in zero successful condo launches in the core since,” said Dillon Sangha, market and advisory manager at Urban Analytics.. “Developers tried to launch, but cancelled or delayed plans after failing to achieve sufficient sales.”

Those housing policies and taxes include Vancouver’s vacant home tax – which increased this year to 3% of a home’s assessed value; the B.C. speculation tax, which ranges from 0.5% to 2% of the property’s value; and an increase in the provincial foreign-homebuyer tax to 20%.

The arrival of COVID-19 early last year likely further eroded confidence in the suddenly quiet downtown market.