Investing in Emerging Condo Markets

Frank O'Brien
January 26, 2016

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The entire Metro Vancouver condominium market has been very good to investors over the past few years. Benchmark condo prices are up 14 per cent from a year ago and nine per cent from last summer. The typical resale condo on Vancouver’s East Side, for example, increased in value by more than $54,000 in the past 12 months.

The vacancy rate for rented condos is 0.8 per cent and rents and demand are rising.

Last year, with two exceptions, every market served by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver saw condominium apartment prices increase from a year earlier.

Yet, there are some specific Metro communities that may provide superior investment opportunities in 2016 through a combination of demographics, gentrification, development and transit. These markets are not only for those buying resale condominiums, but for investors looking to purchase a new unit, either already complete or in the pre-sale process.

Three Markets to Consider

Lower Lonsdale, North Vancouver: With great city and ocean views and one of the trendiest retail cores in the region, this neighbourhood is also linked to downtown Vancouver by SeaBus. It has many older condominium buildings that could be prime for redevelopment sites and a selection of new condo towers backed by major developers. The benchmark price of a Lower Lonsdale resale condo is $378,000. This is 9.7 per cent higher than a year ago, but is still below the benchmark price across North Vancouver and far below prices in downtown Vancouver.

Brighouse South, Richmond: Just on the fringe of downtown Richmond, Brighouse South has a combination of transit (a new Brighouse bus loop is planned), schools, parks and intense interest from condominium buyers. Say what you want about Asian investors, but if you have as much faith in them as I do, this is a prime neighbourhood. The benchmark resale condo apartment price is now $334,000, compared to $442,000 in central Richmond and $384,000 for all of Richmond. Prices in Brighouse South are up nearly seven per cent from a year ago. This could be the year to buy.

Mount Pleasant, Vancouver East Side: Mount Pleasant is perhaps the best condo investment market in the Metro region. Close to downtown, it has attracted major tech employers (HootSuite, for example) while transit (both SkyTrain and Canada Line) and a city zoning change have spurred new offices and a rush of rental tenants. The price of a typical Mount Pleasant condo shot up nearly 23 per cent in the past year and has accelerated nine per cent in the last three months. Still, at a benchmark of $385,000, prices are far below the neighbouring West Side. 

Happy investing for a prosperous New Year.

Frank O'Brien
Frank O'Brien is the editor of Western Canada's biggest commercial real estate newspaper, Western Investor, as well as a contributing editor at West Coast Condominium, real estate contributor to Business in Vancouverand a regular media commentator on real estate investment.