TORONTO — Canada could see a record-breaking $50-billion worth of investment in commercial real estate this year as economic tailwinds and immigration policies support the booming sector, according to a report by CBRE, but it says the strong economy is also creating challenges of affordability and supply.
The commercial real estate services firm said Tuesday that total investment would be about $5 billion higher than 2019 and about a billion dollars higher than the record set in 2018.
Growth comes even amid low vacancies in major markets as tech companies in particular continue to prize downtown locations. Other strong areas include investments in rental apartments as home affordability gets out of reach for many Canadians, and industrial growth driven by e-commerce demand for logistics centres.
“Canada has so many advantages, and so many underlying fundamentals that are positives over the long-term, that we certainly think that growth in the Canadian commercial real estate market is going to continue,” said CBRE Canada vice-chairman Paul Morassutti.
Those trends, along with strong population growth and stable banking and governance, would help steer the sector if a recession hits, said Morassutti.
“The wild card is a recession. My feeling is we’re very well positioned to weather a recession, and I think we’ll continue to flourish after that because of those attributes.”
Heightened interest in the market is also creating challenges, including rising rents and limited office and industrial space, while climate change is creating its own issues.
CBRE says prime office rents jumped 20.9 per cent in Vancouver between 2018 and 2019, 14.2 per cent in Montreal, and 10.1 per cent in Toronto, while national industrial rents rose by 12.3 per cent between the two years for the largest increase on record.
Rents still form a small portion of company budgets and don’t seem to be a major constraint on growth yet, said Morassutti. He noted that in the industrial sector, costs savings in transportation from better locations more than offset costs from higher rents.
Rental rates for apartments are also climbing in major centres as home ownership becomes more expensive, which has helped drive investment in the multifamily. The sector could see about $11.9 billion in investment this year, up from $8.3 billion in 2018, to see the most of any commercial sector, CBRE expects.
The upward trend in residential rental rates is however putting pressure on income inequality, said Morassutti.
“Partially because of that lack of home affordability, you have all these people becoming renters, so on the one hand that’s a good thing. On the other hand, it’s not great for society that our two major cities are becoming unaffordable, it’s not great for the income divide, which is already a large social issue.”
Along with affordability, CBRE says the lack of investment in transit infrastructure, and increasing pressures of climate change on the construction sector and land values are also structural issues of concern for the year ahead.
More immediately, the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak also loom as a big unknown, but could be short-lived if it is contained, said Richard Barkham, global chief economist at CBRE said in a statement.
“If the coronavirus outbreak is relatively contained sometime in March, impacts on the Canadian economy and most commercial real estate sectors will be noticeable in the near term but less substantive over the year.”
He noted that short-term impacts would largely hit the hotel and retail sectors. He said the global property market should be able to weather the effects of the virus as anticipated today, but that a clearer picture of the epidemic should materialize sometime in March.
Google real estate executive says 5% more workers coming in to office each week
Alphabet Inc’s Google has seen an increasing number of employees coming in to its offices each week, particularly younger workers, the company’s real estate chief said during an interview at the Reuters Next conference on Friday.
On Thursday, Google indefinitely pushed back the mandated return date for employees due to concerns about the Omicron variant. The company had previously said its 150,000 global employees could be required to come in to the office as soon as Jan. 10.
Nevertheless, David Radcliffe, Google’s vice president for real estate and workplace services, said many Googlers are returning of their own volition. About 40% of its U.S. employees on average came in to the office daily in recent weeks, up from 20-25% three months ago, he said. Globally, 5% more employees are returning to offices week after week, he added.
“People are actually showing voluntarily that they want to be back in the office,” Radcliffe said. “We’re moving in the right direction.”
Younger employees and those who joined Google more recently have been coming in at higher rates, seeking opportunities to learn from colleagues, Radcliffe added.
Google expects workers in the office at least three days a week once it mandates a new return date.
Based on feedback from those already back, it is redesigning floor plans to increase private, quiet spaces for distraction-free individual work and adding conferencing and other collaboration areas in open spaces both indoors and outdoors.
Real estate and human resources experts have considered Google a trailblazer for the past 20 years in sustainable office design and variety of workplace perks, including free meals, massages and gyms.
To extend those sustainability and wellness benefits to remote work, Google has encouraged employees to buy carbon offsets and non-toxic furniture for their home offices. It also has provided free cooking classes and discounts to fitness studios near workers’ homes.
“It was amazing how many employees had really never cooked themselves,” Radcliffe said.
(Reporting by Paresh Dave in Oakland, Calif., and Julia Love in San Francisco; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Matthew Lewis)
Calgary real estate is on a late-year roll – Western Investor
With $468 million in sales – not counting the $1.2-billion Bow office tower purchase that has yet to close – in the third quarter (Q3) 2021, Calgary is on track to top $2 billion in commercial and industrial real estate sales this year, according to Altus Group.
Meanwhile housing sales in November reached 2,110 transactions, just shy of the record for the month set in 2005, as the sales-to-new-listing ratio hit a blistering 100 per cent.
Altus reports that the Calgary’s commercial real estate market recorded 115 transactions for a total investment volume of $468 million in the third quarter, bringing the total investment volume for the year close to $2 billion. The total sales volume was up 37 per cent from the first three quarters of 2020.
Industrial sales led the commercial and industrial assets investment parade in the third quarter, with 27 transactions valued at $188 million. This sector was dominated by two substantial distribution logistics centre deals. These were the $69.7 million purchase of a Canadian Tire 496,000-square-foot distribution centre by Skyline Commercial Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT); and the $32.18 million sale of the Valad Construction headquarters industrial and office complex to Nexus REIT.
The ICI (industrial-commercial-institutional) land sector was the second most active in terms of dollar volume with 38 transactions amounting to $83 million, up 62 per cent from Q3 of 2020.
The multi-family rental apartment sector saw 15 transactions totalling $82 million, a 70 per cent increase from the same point last year, and only a marginal decrease from the previous quarter.
The retail sector tallied $44 million in transactions amounting to a 110 per cent increase from Q3 2020.
The biggest retail sale was the $8.35 million purchase of the Hansen Ranch Plaza, a near-12,000-square-foot retail centre in northwest Calgary, bought by local investors.
“Calgary’s beleaguered office market has remained flat, with five transactions amounting to $15 million, a negligible change from the same quarter last year,” noted Ben Tatterton, manager of data solutions at Altus, who prepared the Calgary report with national research manager Krut DSesai.
The landmark sale of the Bow office tower will be registered in a future quarter, Altus noted.
The two-million-square-foot Bow tower was purchased in August from Toronto-based H&R REIT by Oak Street Real Estate Capital, of Chicago, for $1.216 million, in a deal expected to close by the end of this year.
The Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB) reported a rush of home buyers in November.
“Lending rates are expected to increase next year, which has created a sense of urgency among purchasers who want to get into the housing market before rates rise,” said CREB chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie. She added that supply levels have tightened, causing prices to rise.
The benchmark composite home price in November was $461,000, up nearly 9 per cent from November of 2020, according to Lurie.
Saskatchewan real estate market conditions making it hard for buyers: realtors – Globalnews.ca
“The really good houses, you pretty much have to go the exact same day as (they’re) listed, and even then you probably are going to get into a bidding war,” he said Friday.
He adds that bidding wars over Saskatoon homes are happening at a rate he has never seen in his 11 years working in Saskatchewan.
“(Last) Friday I got into two bidding wars with two different clients,” he laughed. “That’s not something you see too much of.”
A new report from RE/MAX shows this is the case across the country, making it harder for first-time homebuyers to get into the market.
RE/MAX Canada Regional Executive Vice President Elton Ash says this competition could continue.
“In March, we’re anticipating the Bank of Canada to start edging the overnight rate up with inflation concerns and that sort of thing,” he said Thursday. “That’s going to push buyers suddenly, because they’ve been looking and they’re going to want to lock in at a lower rate.”
Rural Boom: Why millennials are flocking to small town Canada
He said buyers from all across Canada are now seeing the value of an affordable new house in the Prairies.
“People are looking at that and saying, ‘Hey, yeah I might today be working in Toronto but I can work remotely and I can move back home to Saskatchewan where prices are much more affordable; family life will be better and I can work remote,’” Ash explained.
Ens says he’s seen this play out in his day-to-day job, with plenty of newcomers in the last year.
“We’ve seen people from Toronto, Chilliwack, B.C., places like that that are coming here,” he said.
From his perspective, the report is accurate in its prediction that houses will likely only continue to slowly increase in price, but he says a seller’s market won’t always make things easier.
“When you have bidding wars and you have multiple offers it sounds great for a seller,” he explained. “But it’s also very tricky because you could actually lose all the offers because you do something wrong.”
The bottom line, he says, is that Canada is a seller’s market — and Saskatchewan is selling fast.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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