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Blog by Kevin Wong

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Recent Vancouver Condo Quick Sales Not Sign Of What’s Ahead

Saturday’s four-hour blowout sale of 415 homes at Marine Gateway will be followed by similar quick sales at other condo towers this year, but don’t expect a return to the heady pre-recessionary days when every project sold out quickly.

That’s the word from an executive with real estate market firm MPC Intelligence, who said location, price and strong marketing are key for developing major consumer interest.

“The developer and marketing company did a really good job [with Marine Gateway],” said MPC senior manager Jeff Hancock. “It was the perfect storm to attract the type of buyer that’s still prolific in the market, Asian investors. The location had a huge impact and they priced the project right. They weren’t greedy.

“We’ll see it again in Metrotown, where there’s similar types of demand, because it’s near SkyTrain and close to amenities.”

Hancock also expects long lines at downtown Vancouver projects, including Telus’s condo tower that’s part of the telecommunication giant’s redevelopment of a city block.

More than 11,000 people registered to buy a unit at Marine Gateway, located at Marine and Cambie, and many buyers camped out to secure their place in line. The two condo towers, developed by the PCI Group and marketed by Rennie Marketing Systems, are part of a project that includes a supermarket, restaurants, a movie theatre and other retail, expected to be ready for occupancy in 2015.

Tsur Somerville, director for the centre for urban economics and real estate at Sauder School of Business at the University of B.C., believes the Marine Gateway sales is not indicative of a trend.

“It think it’s a unique happenstance of a particular development plan at a particular site with the price points they had. Pre-sales at other sites weren’t like that.

Susan Rutledge, vice-president of sales for Intracorp Realty, said Intracorp will likely start selling the 284 units at its latest Metrotown highrise, Silver, in April. “We have a huge database of people registered, both individuals and realtors. It will be absorbed into the market with good speed, given the interest. I think it will do extraordinarily well.”

Chris Colbeck, vice-president of sales and marketing for Townline, said their 134-unit, 22-storey Vancouver tower called 999 Seymour sold well when it was launched for the second time in February. Colbeck said the project was first launched in 2008, but taken off the market as the recession took hold. The latest launch, he said, was well received with investors making 60 per cent of buyers and owner-occupiers the other 40 per cent.

Meanwhile, Rennie Marketing Systems owner Bob Rennie said Marine Gateway sold out quickly because it’s an emerging area along the Canada Line and the condos were priced right.

“Any place you’ll see that type of absorption is in under-supplied segments of the market. If you have 12 townhouses on the water, they’ll line up because they’re rare.

“I don’t think people should think everything will be a sellout, unless it’s predominantly on the affordable side.”