Despite one billion-dollar deal, commercial real estate sales drop sharply in Metro Vancouver in 2019

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      Last year was not the best of times for commercial real estate brokers in the Lower Mainland working north of the Fraser River.

      That's because the number of sales plummeted 32.8 percent from 2018, according to figures released today.

      The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver noted that the 2019 commercial sales figure was also 41.5 percent behind the torrid pace set in 2017.

      The drop in dollar value was even greater—the $6.86 billion in sales in 2019 was 56.7 percent below the $15.83 billion recorded in the previous year.

      “Activity in the commercial market slowed in 2019 due in large part to reduced economic activity across our provincial economy last year,” REBGV president Ashley Smith said in a news release. “We experienced a pickup in home buyer activity in the residential real estate market to start this year, but we’ll have to wait and see how demand for commercial real estate will be impacted by the economic difficulties that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing.”

      That's not to say there weren't any gigantic commissions, though.

      The biggest-ticket sale came when Hudson Pacific Properties and Blackstone Partners bought the Bentall Centre in Vancouver's financial district for $1.05 billion.

      Another significant sale involved 1075 West Georgia Street, a 26-storey office tower that went for $275 million. Airport Executive Park in Richmond traded hands for $208 million.

      It's just that there weren't as many of these as in previous years.

      Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver president Ashley Smith attributes the slow commercial market to reduced economic activity in B.C.

      The best-performing sector last year was industrial land, with 463 sales. That was down just 6.1 percent from 2018, with the value dropping by 6.9 percent.

      Ecommerce has driven the industrial land market in recent years, with Amazon securing several large sites.

      Office and retail transactions declined by 24 percent in 2019. But what's worse from the standpoint of commissions is that the dollar volume in this area plunged by 65.8 percent.

      Commercial land sales were also slow, with a 54.1 percent drop in transactions and a 61.5 decrease in dollar volume in 2019.

      Multifamily land sales fell by 50.5 percent, with the dollar volume diminishing by 48.9 percent.

      The Real Estate Board of Vancouver's territory does not include White Rock, North Delta, Surrey, and Langley.