Novel sales pitch hits Vancouver

A novel, if risky, idea is slated for Vancouver’s real estate landscape.

Aragon Properties will be building two condominiums before even opening sales—a move that almost never occurs in Canada because developments must hit about 80% sales before financing can be secured.

“We’re going to bring to market two particular products in some of the most desirable areas of Vancouver’s West Side. One of the things here is the finished homes offer buyers clear advantages over buying off plans; it lets buyers see first-hand the special architectural detail included in each home,” said Aragon’s Howard Steiss, who added that the projects are self-financed.

“To get the kind of architectural detail we’re including has to be understood and appreciated.”

One of the condos is called Amber, a 31-unit, four-storey brick, concrete and wood building, and the other is called Shift, a six-storey, 43-unit condo. Both projects have up to three bedrooms. Viewings will begin in July.

An advantage to buying a brand new home that’s already constructed is, apart from its tangibility, the move-in date is much, much sooner and not subject to the same delays preconstruction condominiums are usually burdened by.

“We have a ‘30-90’ design focus: We focus on 30% of the floorplan where you spend 90% of your life, so we have an emphasis on kitchens, bathrooms, outdoor balcony areas, outdoor decks, rooftop decks, including built-in kitchens. We also have window walls.”

The window wall in particular turns the balcony into an extension of the interior.

Conversely, the old tried, tested and true preconstruction method shows nary a sign of waning in Vancouver, despite all indications that the market itself is. Perhaps for that reason alone—to say nothing of how disquietingly expensive buying into the Vancouver market is—a master-planned community with adequate rental stock is integral to Vancouver’s new market realities.

Ryan Thé, vice president of development at Wesgroup Properties, says that The Westminster in the Brewery District is capitalizing on a great need in the market.

“The demand for rentals is so high and vacancy rates are very low, and there was a clear need in the market as well, so we decided to go rental,” he said. “It was about a more diverse look and having more residential buildings and carving them up that way. Rental has lots of opportunity for developers to fit a need in the market.”

The master-planned Westminster is composed of eight buildings—four of which are commercial, office, retail and health care—comprising two condominiums and two rental buildings.

“We’re currently leasing now and finished the building earlier this year,” said Thé. “The interest has been good with about 23 homes as of today available out of 187. We’re a fully pet-friendly building with an ‘eight leg policy’: up to two cats or dogs.”

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