All Quiet on the Urban Front

The governor issued a stay at home order last week reversing his position from the previous week. Although it may turn out to be a wise decision it does lead us to some difficulty in transaction real estate. The initial order stayed realtors but exempted construction. The governor clarified the order a few days later and limited construction work to essential projects only but allowing real estate transactions some flexibility to operate. This is good news for buyers and sellers of real estate.

The urban condo market was very quiet this past week with one failed sale back on market at Shorewood and a new listing in Northwynd. With no new pending sales or closings, the week ends up at +2 inventory. Downtown had no change in inventory.

Inventory is still rather tight for those looking to be downtown but for those looking for an urban condo along the riverfront to the east, things are looking good from the buyer’s perspective. Northwynd is a series of townhouse style condominiums at Columbia Shores. This neighborhood features McMenemins on the Columbia and Beaches restaurant right on the Columbia River. Northwynd has a fair number of units listed right now and with a general slowdown in showing activity, sellers are likely to be anxious and willing to cut a deal to get sold.

Columbia Shores is less than a mile to the new waterfront and the drive or walk is short with no cross traffic or stop lights between the two neighborhoods. Just a lovely stroll or cruise along the riverfront park.

For people already living in Vancouver’s urban core you have the advantage of close proximity to a variety of restaurants and pubs that are still offering walk up take out or delivery so the urban living does still have its perks even in this COVID-19 lock-down environment we find ourselves in.

This is a good time for buyers to assert themselves as sellers may be more anxious due tot he uncertainty of the sales environment. Is this a 30 day deal or longer? Unknowns always tend to create anxiety in the market but savvy buyers can capitalize.

High End Condos are Moving!

Generally the higher end of the market is slower than the entry level or middle, but in the Urban Condo scene it seems that the plush units are selling very well. Two of five listed units at the very expensive Tidewater project have sold and in a reasonable time frame for both.

Meanwhile in Parkview it seems the more expensive units with premium upgrades and higher prices are more desirable than the more modestly equipped units as well. The exception is the one bed and studio units which are hard to find, reasonably priced and sell quickly.

The action in the $750k plus condo market indicates a market demand for these units and bodes well for the upcoming Kirkland Tower project on the waterfront which will have units ranging from $1 million to $5 million. Kirkland is expected to be ready next year.

What’s up at Northwynd?

There has been a surge in activity at Northwynd Condos at Columbia Shores. Quite a few units are now listed. There doesn’t seem to be any real negative issue, just a lot of people making a move. Recently the association at Northwynd had a small assessment that led to a $100 increase in HOA dues, but that is really not a big enough deal to produce an exodus.

I spoke to one Realtor® privately that has a few listings in that complex; she thinks people are excited about the new waterfront and some may be capitalizing on the “buzz” surrounding the waterfront. Although there is some merit to the idea that some homeowners could be ‘taking profits’ like investors do in the stock market when values are high, it seems a bit more complicated than that. I’ll be sniffing around to see if there is more to the story over the next few weeks.

This Week in Urban Vancouver

It seems like there has been a bit of an inventory bump at Northwynd Condos in the Columbia Shores area. Several Northwynd units have been listed this past week while one went pending. Meanwhile other units in the Columbia Shores neighborhood have remained steady, the waterfront unit at the Village closed they got 99.5% of full price. Also in Columbia Shores, a Meriwether unit that was withdrawn is now back on the market this two-story condo has a waterfront patio and spectacular views. 3105 SF listed at $2.45 million.

Downtown high-rise developments saw no new inventory this week and no new pending units. The recent snowy weather has no doubt softened the number of showings on these and other housing units in the area. Buyers willing the brave the elements can have an advantage sometimes as the perception for sellers is different when fewer showings are happening, even when the cause is likely only temporary.

Parkview at Vancouver Center continues to offer a relative value in Downtown Vancouver. These units in general are a little less “plush” than the luxury units in Viewpoint, but the west-facing units feature a nice view of Esther Short Park. They suffer a little from higher HOA fees than nearby Viewpoint, but the units themselves tend to be 30-50% less expensive making Parkview an attractive proposition for Downtown urban condos.

Meanwhile on the new waterfront; Kirkland has erected the first crane to help build the Hotel Indigo and the Kirkland Tower Condos. The Kirkland Tower is a 12 story building that just scrapes the bottom of the FAA height limit due to its close proximity to the Pearson Airfield. The Tower crane will need to be raised an additional 50-70 feet to 250 feet, in the summer with a special permit from the FAA. Kirkland will need to remove the crane by autumn to remain in compliance with regulations.

At this point there is no indication of an expected delay in the scheduled 2020 opening of both facilities. These units have no ‘official’ pricing, but the local rumor mill is producing figures in the $1 million to $4 million range depending on size and view.

Rediviva is actively filling up their beautiful new mid-rise apartment building on the waterfront and the much larger Riverwest building should start leasing this spring. So long as demand for both rental and sale units remains solid, the waterfront and downtown construction boom should boost activity for resale condos in the area.