Retail property setting the pace in B.C.: RealNet

Retail is proving to be the hot property in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, beating out all other sectors in annual sales.

Retail generated 9.5 per cent in annual growth, leading the apartment, office and industrial sectors. Respectively, the others accounted for annual growth rates of 8.2 per cent, 7.2 per cent and 7.1 per cent.

“While the overall market has produced compound annual growth rates of 7.7 per cent, the highest level of growth was once again delivered by retail assets in the $3-$10-million mid-market (category),” George Carras, president of RealNet Canada Inc,, said in a release.

brentwood-town-centre$5.2 billion in deals

A total of $5.2 billion in transactions – including both land and improved properties – took place over the 12-month study period from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013, according to RealNet’s second annual Created Value Study of the Greater Vancouver commercial real estate investment market.

The study identifies “created value,” defined as the gross difference between the selling and purchase price through paired sales analysis in 337 specific properties located within the Greater Vancouver area in a one-year period.

In terms of compound growth rates compared to individual property sector results, the overall market produced returns of 7.7 per cent.

During the last year, 1,093 properties in the four sectors were bought and sold for a total of $2.2 billion. Approximately one-third or 33.8 per cent of those properties were previously sold, according to RealNet’s research of commercial properties that dates back to 1999 in the Greater Vancouver area.

That represents a rise from 25 per cent in previously sold properties at the same time in the year’s previous study.

RealNet didn’t provide details on the specific properties sold and the research might come as surprise when office space appears to be the big driver in Vancouver deals at the moment.  However, what may be driving the strong retail figures is the increase in large multi-use development taking place in the Lower Mainland.

Transit-oriented hubs popular

Many of the new office towers coming online are transit-oriented hubs combining office, retail and residential in a single development.

In its recent Metro Vancouver Office Market Report Mid-Year 2013, Avison Young included a special focus on suburban office space and how it’s sprouting up in mixed-use developments throughout Metro Vancouver.

While the report focused on the office space in the mixed-use developments, it’s notable that many of those developments include significant retail. Among the projects awaiting approval or recently approved are Oakridge Centre in Vancouver, Brentwood Town Centre in Burnaby, and the Sears redevelopment at Metrotown.

Oakridge Centre, for example, includes 1.43 million square feet of retail. The redeveloped Brentwood Town Centre would contain 1.3 million sq. ft. of retail.

One of the stated reasons for Brentwood’s redevelopment is to transform it into a “mixed-use, transit-oriented city core,” showing just how much the trend of transit hubs has been taken up in Vancouver.


A multiple award-winning reporter, writer and editor for more than 25 years, Charles Mandel most recently worked as the National Observer's climate change reporter. He is a former Atlantic correspondent…

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A multiple award-winning reporter, writer and editor for more than 25 years, Charles Mandel most recently worked as the National Observer's climate change reporter. He is a former Atlantic correspondent…

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