Hungerford Properties has sold the 46-acre Icon Business Park in Calgary, which it bought in 2013 and repositioned from a vacant single-use property to multi-tenant facility that is 98 per cent occupied.
Michael Hungerford, partner in Hungerford Properties, confirmed the sale of the property to RENX late Wednesday. Due to confidentiality articles in the transaction, he did not reveal the buyer of the business park nor the sale price.
The Icon Business Park includes a 762,000-square-foot industrial facility in southeast Calgary that has about 11.5 per cent of its total space reserved for office use.
“Today as I look back, the plan that we had to execute on, we’ve completed. So the time had come for us to hand it off to another owner with a different plan. The value creation that we undertook is complete and that led us to the decision to sell,” said Hungerford.
“I’m reluctant to talk about the particulars of the deal because there’s confidentiality.
“Out of respect for confidentiality with the purchaser, I’m not at liberty to talk about it. It’s a well-respected institutional buyer.”
In a release Thursday morning, Equium Group announced it will be the new property manager of Icon. Calgary-based Equium’s services include property management, development, construction, marketing, leasing and property investment. It specializes in commercial, condominium and residential real estate services.
Equium Group’s portfolio under management is valued in excess of $1.1 billion.
History of Icon Business Park
Hungerford Properties bought the site and building from manufacturer Haworth. The building was originally built in 1999 by Calgary entrepreneur Mogans Smed.
The facility consists of about 85,000 square feet of office space. The warehouse portion is another 676,000 square feet.
The Haworth building was originally put on the Calgary market for sale in the spring of 2010. The Haworth manufacturing facility was listed for sale as the U.S.-based company wound down production in the city.
Although the original list price was not revealed, the property was assessed for $60 million at the time and was being marketed internationally.
Smed International operated in Calgary from 1982 to 2000, at which time the facility was purchased by Haworth.
Haworth, which designs and manufactures office furniture and workspaces, is headquartered in Holland, Mich.
In August 2009, the manufacturer announced it was cutting about 600 jobs in Calgary as it was consolidating its Calgary manufacturing operations to west Michigan.
When Hungerford bought the property, it undertook a redevelopment that included new building systems, new exterior access points, improved landscaping, more than 60 new loading doors, new fitness amenities, new office storefronts and interior tenant improvements.
“The plan was to buy the property, invest in it and reposition it and bring in business. Stabilize it with good long-term tenants,” said Hungerford. “As we looked at where we sit now, we achieved all that and we said it makes sense for another, in this case, institution to take ownership of it.
“Our vision was to transform this underutilized industrial space in Calgary into a bustling industrial park and we are thrilled to see this vision come of life.”
Today, Icon has national and international tenants including:
* CHEP, a global supply-chain logistics services group;
* Robert Thibert Inc., an international automotive parts distributor;
* ABB Inc., a Fortune Global 500 robotics, power, heavy electrical equipment and automation technology provider;
* Rolf C. Hagen Inc, the world’s largest privately owned pet products manufacturer and distributor;
* and The Data Group, one of Alberta’s largest single graphics communications companies.
Most recently, Icon leased 42,700 square feet of office space to Energy Safety Canada, Canada’s oil and gas safety association.
That tenancy brought the building to 98 per cent occupancy and represented one of the top-10 suburban relocation deals in the Calgary office market since 2015, according to Colliers International.
“Hungerford brought their expertise, creativity, commitment and vision to Icon and as a result, it has performed well,” said Paul Marsden, executive VP and partner at Colliers.
“Icon is a quality asset in a great location and, in addition to providing quality service to its tenants, Hungerford has brought new life to the area through these additional businesses, their employees and clients.”
Calgary industrial attractive
Hungerford said the company sees Calgary as an attractive centre for a diversified portfolio as part of its Canadian strategy – particularly its industrial strategy.
“That’s what we’ve certainly invested in, in the Calgary market. We continue to hold that view,” he told RENX.
“So, while we might be a seller at this particular asset, we’re also a buyer in others and have bought and have been active buying in the last couple of years in Calgary. It’s a long-term view in the market.
“As we look ahead, we like the regional story of Calgary industrial and the value for tenants in the market. We expect to be participating in the industrial market going forward.”
Beside the Icon Business Park, the company currently is completing construction of the Icon Retail Centre which has about half of its space committed to leases. Construction will be complete in 2021.
The Icon Retail Centre includes two strip buildings on four acres of land comprising about 14,000 square feet. It is anchored by a Petro-Canada gas station.
Sales trend below average in qathet: real estate board
Real estate home sales dollar values in August 2023 dropped off from the previous year in the qathet region.
“Sales activity was about on par with levels from August 2021 and 2022 and continued trending below the average for this time of year,” said Neil Frost, president of the Powell River Sunshine Coast Real Estate Board. “New listings, on the other hand, have been coming in very strong and have kept overall supply from moving back towards historically low levels. Our market remains in balanced territory and prices continue to ease from last year, making this a more opportune time for potential buyers to wade back in and test the waters.”
In the single-family residence category, in August 2023, there were 20 homes sold, valued at $13,281,150, compared to 29 units sold, valued at $22,802,350, in August 2022.
There were three sales in the mobiles and manufactured homes category, valued at $817,000, in August 2023, compared to three sales, valued at $663,900, in August 2022.
In the condos, apartments and duplexes category, there were six sales, totalling $2,422,900, in August 2023, compared to three sales, valued at $1,303,500, in August 2022.
Totals for residential sales indicate 29 units sold, valued at $16,422,900, in August 2023, compared to 35 units sold, valued at $24,769,750, in August 2022.
On the nonresidential side, there were eight vacant land properties sold in August 2023, valued at $1,678,000, compared to three properties, valued at $734,030, in August 2022.
In the industrial, commercial and institutional category, there was one sale, valued at $2,800, in August 2022, and none in August 2023.
Totals for nonresidential were eight units, valued at $1,668,000, in August 2023, compared to four units, valued at $736,830, in August 2022.
Grand totals show 37 units sold in August 2023, valued at $18,199,050, compared to 39 units, valued at $736,830, in August 2022.
In terms of average monthly selling price in the single-family homes category, the value in August 2023 was $664,058, with an average of 74 days on the market, compared to $786,288, in August 2022, with an average of 37 days on the market. This is a 15.5 per cent drop in average price.
Regarding new listings, on the residential side, there were 59 new listings, and on the nonresidential side, 12, for a total of 71 new listings in August 2023. In terms of active listings at the end of the month, there were 173 residential listings and 85 nonresidential listings.
According to statistics from the Canadian Real Estate Association, on a year-to-date basis, home sales totalled 190 units over the first eight months of the year, which was a large decline of 21.2 per cent from the same period in 2022.
“Home sales are starting to settle back into a trend of below-normal activity following an unexpected surge in the spring,” said British Columbia Real Estate Association chief economist Brendon Ogmundson. “However, sales are in a much stronger place than expected given current mortgage qualifying difficulty.”
Why experts say predictability is returning to Ontario’s real estate market
Before the days of bidding wars and bully offers, the real estate market used to be cyclical and fairly predictable.
There was a spring market, which was typically the busiest time of year, and there was a fall market, where the action typically picked up following a quiet summer.
However, over the past decade, the pace of the real estate market picked up and realtors were forced to quickly adjust to the rapidly changing market, especially when the pandemic hit, and interest rates were at rock bottom for a lengthy timeframe.
Things changed again last year as interest rates slowly began to creep up, leaving realtors across Ontario trying to advise their clients as best they could in a constantly shifting landscape.
In January, many believed the Bank of Canada was done raising interest rates and the market began to heat back up in the spring, prompting rates hike in June and July, Robert Hogue, RBC’s assistant chief economist.
“We’ve seen in July and August with the most recent numbers and especially August, that home retail activity has come down,” he explained.
After the interest rates went up, sales slowed across much of Ontario, which was a sign to some realtors that we may be seeing a return to old real estate ways.
“I think we’re starting to see a bit more predictability in the market versus volatility,” Kitchener realtor Tony Johal explained about a return to real estate markets past.
Ottawa realtor Nick Kyte explained that traditionally, the summer market has been slower as people have been away.
“If they haven’t purchased a property by July, they tend to take August as their vacation months or going to the cottage or just kind of enjoying summer activities. And then they come back to the market in the fall,” he said.
Much like the rest of Ontario, it was a slow summer in Toronto, and over the first week of September, people began listing and looking again.
“Honestly, we were all sitting on our hands the last couple months going, ‘Geez, I hope this changes in the fall’ and it does feel like it is,” said Toronto realtor Brendan Powell.
He noted that some clients were still looking in Toronto this summer, but were unable to find properties to meet their needs.
With the real estate market appearing to approach a more traditional market, many of the realtors Global News spoke with believe there will be a bit of a bump in sales during the fall months as people return from summer vacation.
“There’s going to be a little bit of a spike right now in the fall market,” Hamilton realtor Rob Golfi said.
Johal was also cautiously optimistic about expectations for the fall market.
“I don’t think we’re going to hit spring’s numbers. The interest rates are staying put, and I do believe that will have an influence over pricing and overall activity,” he explained. “I do foresee the fall market leading all the way to closer to Christmas as being fairly consistent and strong.”
Hogue shared Johal’s cautious view of what will happen with real estate in Ontario when the fall approaches as he says the seasonally adjusted numbers for the summer were well worse than sales in the spring.
“Once you take that into consideration, the traditional slowdown, even then the July and August numbers of of this year were a slowed down relative to what we saw in the spring,” the economist explained.
He also noted that the rebound from the spring appears to have been reversed, offering a sign of things to come in the fall.
Buyers were cautious in the fall of 2022 and they remain so in 2023, especially with the potential for another rate hike in November if inflation persists.
“Buyers are acting like they did last fall, and last fall is when we saw continuous rate hikes,” Kyte said. “So therefore, if buyers were going to purchase, they had you know, they want to make sure that the home was in good shape, that it was what they were looking for.”
Hogue says that RBC believes that at most, there may be one more rate hike to come from the Bank of Canada, but the current rates are likely high enough to keep most first-time home buyer on the sidelines.
“It might take a month or two for the market to come to that conclusion,” Hogue said of the idea of the end of rate hikes. “And then you might see some people jumping back in. But the thing is, affordability is still a big issue, especially for first-time homebuyers.”
The economist also noted that if unemployment rates rise, that could keep people out of the market.
“It is also our view that the Canadian economy has already started a very mild recession,” he said. “So that is likely to potentially take the confidence of some people.”
Kyte looks back at how sellers reacted last year as an opportunity to explain how they might act in the fall of 2023.
He said if homes are priced correctly, then they will move but if not, they will make adjustments.
“Some sellers decide to status quo, others decide to adjust their price downwards to elicit some new buyers that may want to purchase before winter occurs,” the realtor said of the Ottawa market. “And some others just decide that maybe now’s not the right time for them to be on the market.”
The Ottawa realtor noted that if that was the case, then some sellers pulled houses off the market and relisted in the spring, which is traditionally a busier time in real estate.
In Toronto, Powell says the slowdown has created a more balanced market, which has allowed for conditional offers to return to the marketplace.
“There’s a lot more caution and we’re seeing mostly conditional offers, which is kind of what it should be,” he said.
“Conditions are a normal, smart part of a balanced market as people do their due diligence right and protect themselves from risk.”
That does not mean that the bidding wars have vanished entirely.
Johal says about half the homes that hit the market are being priced for bidding wars while the others are priced for market value.
While many buyers remain squeamish about the idea of a bidding war, Johal believes most are now expecting to see the price built into listings.
He explained that if several homes in one area were priced for bidding wars at $600,000 and one was priced at $700,000, some buyers might assume that the house with the higher sticker price might be set for a bidding war at a higher cost.
“The problem is they’re going to look at your listing and think you want $800,000 and completely avoid it in many cases,” he said.
“While we are still seeing some bidding wars erupt these days, we are also seeing buyers place conditions on homes when they make an offer. I think that the last year of uncertainty has really made a lot of people stop and think about of a real risk and real volatility,” Powell said.
He noted that five years ago, conditional offers became rare as people were fighting over a scarce market.
“People threw caution to the wind sometimes and I think that the last year has reminded everybody that there’s real risks involved in any kind of market like this,” he said. “While the buyers are out and are out looking, people are more cautious than they would have been, say, two years ago.”
He said those cautions include people making conditional offers as it should be.
Golfi said that while this might scare off some sellers, they probably should sell sooner rather than later.
“It’s going to take longer to sell a house I think (going forward). In the next 12 months it will take longer days on market will grow and grow,” Golfi said.
While the realtors expect homes which are prices accordingly to move fairly quickly in the fall as they traditionally would, hey also expect the market to slow in December which may be a good time to buy.
“I think the best month out of the year as a buyer. December and even January, those are the two best months,” Golfi said. ”If you’re going to buy a house and you want to get a super deal but inventory might be a little bit tough sometimes in those two months.”
Kyte also said that the price might be right for buyers when the holiday season approaches.
“If you’re looking at purchasing, you want to buy when not everyone else is buying because that’s when you can get a good deal, which is traditionally the fall into the early winter market,” he said.
Real estate price growth in Halton Region since 2013
To say the growth in real estate prices in Halton Region over the past 10 years is staggering would be an understatement.
According to sales data from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board, the average sale price for all dwelling types combined in Halton Region was $1,230,389 in August. In August 2013, that average was $572,934 — 114.7 per cent increase over the past decade.
Despite falling from record-high average prices set in early 2022, prices over the past 10 years have seen huge gains across Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton and Oakville.
When looking at year-over-year average sale prices for the month of August between 2013 and 2023, the combined average price of real estate in Burlington is up 94.5 per cent from $553,175 to $1,075,897.
Over the past 10 years in Halton Hills, the average price has increased 163 per cent from $475,462 to $1,250,700, while Milton saw its average for all dwelling types combined increase from $476,599 in August 2013 to $1,083,812 last month — or 127.4 per cent.
The combined average sale price in Oakville was $1,492,687 last month compared to $707,606 in August 2023, representing a 110.9 per cent increase over the same period.
The graphic below breaks down the average price for detached homes, semi-detached homes and apartment condos for the month of August dating back to 2013.
Here’s how much the average prices for detached homes, semi-detached homes and condo apartments in each community have increased percentagewise since 2013. There is insufficient data for semi-detached and condo apartments in Halton Hills for relevant statistical comparison due to low inventory and sales.
Detached homes: $639,168 (Aug. 2013) to $1,406,473 (Aug. 2023) — +120 per cent.
Semi-detached: $446,580 (Aug. 2013) to $965,714 (Aug. 2023) — +116.2 per cent.
Condo apartments: $301,967 (Aug. 2013) to $668,446 (Aug. 2023) — +121.4 per cent.
Detached homes: $511,505 (Aug. 2013) to $1,344,305 (Aug. 2023) — +162.8 per cent.
Condo apartments: N/A.
Detached homes: $569,278 (Aug. 2013) to $1,350,202 (Aug. 2023) — +137.1 per cent.
Semi-detached: $418,713 (Aug. 2013) to $1,053,375 (Aug. 2023) — +151.6 per cent.
Condo apartments: $288,333 (Aug. 2013) to $635,406 (Aug. 2023) — +120.1 per cent.
Detached homes: $860,975 (Aug. 2013) to $1,989,978 (Aug. 2023) — +131.1 per cent.
Semi-detached: $472,577 (Aug. 2013) to $1,167,500 (Aug. 2023) — +147 per cent.
Condo apartments: $418,118 (Aug. 2013) to $824,568 (Aug. 2023) — +97.2 per cent.
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