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Rabid buyers may end doubts about B.C. micro-condos

When more than 2,000 buyers crammed into a Surrey sales site April 18 they may have ended debate about the future of tiny condos in Metro Vancouver’s white-hot housing market.
Buyers had lined up from four in the morning for a chance to buy a 316-square-foot micro-sized condo for $93,900. That single loss leader sold to an Edmonton investor minutes after the noon opening of the Evolve sales office. But, within 90 minutes, 300 of the 406 tower condos had sold, including nearly all of the 35 micro suites, at prices from around $134,000.

“Buyers swarmed the buying counter in a frenzy that hasn’t been seen in recent years,” said Bill Morrison, president of Platinum Project Marketing.

Evolve is a 35-storey tower by Westone Properties and the second of six condominium towers planned for the West Village, a development near the central Surrey SkyTrain station that will eventually house more than 2,800 people.

Evolve’s startling sales success may silence concerns about the future of micro-sized condos in Metro Vancouver.
Just a block from Evolve, Reliance Properties of Vancouver will open a sales office May 15 for Prime on the Plaza, a 37-storey tower where 200 of the 361 condos will be micro units of around 304 square feet.

These condos, which include built-in, fold-down beds that convert to a dining table, will start from $139,900, said Jon Stovell, head of acquisitions and development for Reliance.

Reliance has already launched Tower D in Vancouver’s West End, with rental condos as small as 320 square feet.

Reliance planned on going as small as 175 square feet, but was stymied by a City of Vancouver regulation that requires that a condominium must be at least 390 square feet, Stovell said.

While developers tout the tiny condos as a solution for young first-time buyers, the majority of sales are to investors, Stovell confirmed.

“A typical scenario is a parent buys a unit to use while their children are going to university and then it ends up as a rental unit,” he said.

Reliance tested the market with the completion of the Burns Block renovation in downtown Vancouver in 2012, a rental project with apartments as small as 270 square feet. These now rent for around $4 per square foot, Stovell said, which, is above the Metro Vancouver average for condominium rentals, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

“Small condos can be a great investment,” Stovell said.

– O’Brien, F. (2015, April 22). Business Vancouver.