Metro land deals claim a greater share of investment sales in Q2

Land’s share rises

While the tally of investment sales greater than $1 million in Metro Vancouver has dropped significantly this year, the second quarter saw a greater volume of land deals.

According to the latest figures from Altus Group, residential and non-residential land sales accounted for 56.2% of the $1.6 billion in deals done in the three months ended in June. This was up from 47.9% of a slightly lower volume of sales in the first quarter. Both tallies are below levels of a year ago, when land accounted for 60% of overall transaction value.

Non-residential land sales accounted for the largest slice of transactions in the second quarter, at 28.9%, or $462 million. The top deal was the sale of 10.3 acres in Port Coquitlam for $20.7 million, slightly lower than the regional average of $2.4 million per acre.

The big story of the quarter, however, was the well-documented rise of strata industrial properties, which accounted for 74 of the 98 industrial transactions Altus recorded. Pricing maxed out at $705 per square foot, double the regional average of $350 a square foot.

However, overall transaction volumes in the first half of the year were down. Transaction values in the first six months of the year totalled just short of $3.2 billion, down from $6.9 billion a year earlier – a 53.6% drop.

Commercial transfers

Property transfer data from the B.C. Ministry of Finance underscores the drop in commercial sales during the first half of 2019.

According to the province, 877 commercial property transfers took place in the first half of 2019, down 12.6% from 1,003 transfers in the first half of 2018. Despite the reported surge in strata industrial sales, overall sales of non-residential strata properties saw an equivalent decline, dropping 12.5% to 525 in the period.

However, overall sales of industrial properties picked up. The tally for the first half of 2019 was 129, up from just 86 a year earlier – a 50% increase.

The regular provincial report doesn’t give a value for the transactions. However, it does note participation by foreign buyers. This year, participation levels seem to have dropped, with foreign nationals involved in just 12 commercial property transfers in the first half of the year.

This compares with 41 transactions involving foreign nationals a year ago.

$5 million in answers

The province is looking to give municipalities $1.5 million to identify local housing needs, including affordable accommodation for workers.

While the need for housing in B.C. is well known, with cities like Vancouver having just 0.04 purpose-built rental units per capita versus 0.29 in Montreal, knowing the exact type of housing that’s needed requires further study. The province has allocated $5 million over three years to help communities come up with answers.

The funds are administered by the Union of BC Municipalities. The next deadline for applications is November 29. It will mark the second intake for the program, which handed $1.5 million to 30 successful applications this past May. According to an August 12 press release from the B.C. Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, 50 municipalities will benefit, from Ashcroft to View Royal.

Central Kootenay Regional District received the single largest allocation of $150,000, followed by Kootenay-Boundary Regional District ($147,909). The tiniest grant, $14,955, went to Masset.

Recipients within Metro Vancouver include Delta and Langley, which received $70,000 each.

Since much of the data needed for the reports is available online at no cost through the BC Data Catalogue, the funding will primarily support public and stakeholder engagement by report authors and preparation of the final reports.

The reports will be available to the public. •

pmitham@telus.net