Metro suburban condo projects selling out in hours

Local buyers snapped up 141 units in a Surrey development in one hour

Developer Charan Sethi, president of Tien Sher Group, seated, pre-sold 141 Surrey condos in 60 minutes on April 24 | Submitted

Local buyers, including a hefty portion of investors, have sparked a pre-sale condominium sales boom in the Metro Vancouver suburbs, with a string of new projects still under construction selling out hundreds of units within hours.

“The market is crazy right now,” said Jeremy Towning, vice-president of SwissReal Group, which just completed the sellout of its 143-unit ERA low-rise strata project in downtown Maple Ridge that began marketing a year ago.

Sales, he said, had been fairly steady until recently.

“A light switch came on” in the past few weeks, he said. “Someone would buy, and then the whole family would buy.”

On a single day – April 25 – the last 10 of 30 townhouses sold at an average price of $720,000. All 112 condo units in the low-rise development sold in the $500,000 to $600,000 range.

As in other projects that are seeing sizzling pre-sales this spring, ERA buyers were all local, a change from former pre-sale surges that foreign investors often dominated.

In Port Moody, the Panatch Group’s 50 Electronic Avenue complex has sold out 358 condominiums. Panatch president Kush Panatch said sales have accelerated since January.

It took one year to sell the first 258 units and less than three months to sell out the last 100, he said.

“When we launched [the second phase] last March, just as the pandemic was starting, it would take buyers four to six weeks to make a decision to buy. By this March, decisions were being made in a day,” he said, even though Panatch raised per-condo unit prices by between $10,000 and $50,000.

Fast as these pre-sales are, they are pikers compared with recent Surrey condo blowouts.

On April 24 in a nearly deserted sales centre, due to COVID-19 restrictions, developer Charan Sethi, president of Tien Sher Group, sat down at a laptop at 10 a.m. to sign pre-sale contracts virtually. An hour later all 141 units in his Q5 condo project on Whalley Boulevard had sold. This broke the record for Tien Sher pre-sales, eclipsing the 67 minutes it took to sell out Tien Sher’s 116-unit Quattro 2 project back in 2007.

Q5 prices started at $259,900 for a studio apartment and, as with other recent lower-priced projects, many of the buyers were investors.

In a weekend sales blitz in March, 275 units in the 30-storey Belvedere tower in Surrey City Centre sold in less than 72 hours.

Developed by Square Nine Developments, Belvedere pre-sale prices started at $350,000 for a 450-square foot studio unit, which is considered a relatively low price for a concrete tower in Metro Vancouver.

Developers make no bones about targeting local investors. Many condo developers allow rental units in their projects and nearly all will allow investors to sell assignments – where the condo is flipped to another buyer before it is completed – for a modest percentage on the “lift” in value. •