Entry Level Downtown Condos are HOT!

Vancouver has a short supply of urban condos in the downtown core across the broad range of pricing. The entry level price ranges under $300k are in desolate supply. Parkview and Academy Square are about the only affordable buildings, those units sell instantly in this tight market. Locally the inventory tightened again this week for urban condos Downtown and along the Columbia River. A 1 bedroom unit came online yesterday in Parkview and instantly went pending.

I would love to see a developer pickup one of the available under-used lots downtown and build a new mid-rise affordable condo tower. There are two parcels at Columbia and West 9th just across the street from Riverview Tower that are currently privately held and used as surface parking. One or both of these could easily be developed into a project similar to the one Cascadia Development Partners is building on West 6th called Aria. Aria is an apartment building but I believe a similar sized condo project with smaller and modestly equipped units in the $250-$350k range would sell well and as long as the project stays in the 5-6 floor height range it can be built cheaply enough to be profitable.

There is an increasing demand for a downtown sustainable living style where the need for a car is marginalized and a walk-able lifestyle is possible. Over the last several years millennial buyers have been transitioning from a rental mentality to a more traditional ownership mentality at least locally. With interest rates near historic lows, the ability to buy an urban condo for a median income earner continues to improve. Millennials have been a little late coming to the home owner market, but they have definitely become a force in the real estate market recently.

A few years ago many reports showed that potential home buyers in the Millennial generation preferred the flexibility and mobility of renting versus the seemingly restrictive ownership path. Some of that hesitation to buy was attributed by economists as fear generated by the recessional housing conditions in 2009-2012. Whatever the reasons, they are coming around and many of them still want the same urban lifestyle they sought when renting apartments.

Vancouver has a fair number of parcels that are no where near the highest and best use and could easily be used to build middle class market rate affordable condo units. The Waterfront will bring condos in reasonable numbers over the next few years but those Waterfront properties are expensive and not likely to produce affordable units. Bringing a mass of middle income earners Downtown is good for local businesses that rely on consumer spending as well as businesses looking to hire entry level and mid level employees.

Vancouver has shown a willingness to streamline the bureaucratic process for urban infill developments, so I’d like to see more developers proposing condo buildings in the Downtown area on some of the more affordable under used parcels. How about it? Cascadia, Prestige, Holland, Hurley, Kirkland, Gramor, anybody… Bueller 😉 I have a map showing potential building sites in the Downtown area right here. Let’s do this!

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