Retail investment in Vancouver rose by 50% in Q4-2020

by Neil Sharma on 19 Mar 2021

Vancouver’s commercial real estate market closed 2020 on a promising note with $2.2 billion worth of transactions in Q4, and $7.9 billion during the entire year, according to a report from Altus Group.

Although that’s a 15% decrease from $9.3 billion in 2019—transactions also declined by 8% on an annual basis to 1,421 from 1,550—and the office and residential land sectors also endured declines, retail, industrial and multi-family actually increased.

“The retail sector had a surprisingly strong finish to the year, up 18% in total investment volume for 2020 compared to 2019. Two benchmark sales of multi-tenanted retail plazas in Q4-2020 pushed the total amount invested in the quarter to $276 million, a 50% increase from Q4 of 2019,” said the report by Curtis Taylor and Erika Siegert, both senior analysts at Altus Group. “Despite COVID-19 restrictions in place across the country, many retailers have remained open for business in British Columbia, which appears to have had a positive effect on this asset class.”

The industrial sector also had a strong showing and comprised 22% of the total dollar volume, marking a 34% annual increase last year. Moreover, industrial sector availability rates are low, thanks to the continued dominance of e-commerce and food delivery businesses, which have driven demand for warehousing and storage facilities.

The Apartment sector also proved resilient in 2020, according to Altus’s report.

“Rising apartment vacancy rates led to increased availability for multi-family assets in the Vancouver market area, which resulted in apartment sales surpassing the $1 billion mark in 2020, marking a 30% increase year-over-year.”

However, the office sector recorded the largest decline in 2020 of all asset classes. The 60% drop in sales meant that transactions fell short of $1 billion for the first time in five years. Moreover, indecision about whether or not to return workers to physical offices has put upward pressure on office vacancy rates and plunged investment in the sector.

Residential land investment also struggled, declining by 32% last year to $1.5 billion—a 10-year low.

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