The residential areas of Downtown Vancouver comprise 3 main areas:
- Yaletown – which borders the north side of False Creek and much of it originally was developed by Concord Pacific after the Expo 86 World’s Fair;
- Coal Harbour – which is the strip of newly developed condos north of West Georgia Street and West of Burrard Street; and
- The West End – which comprises the downtown core and west of Burrard Street.
It seems that the new 15% tax on “foreign” buyers has had very little impact on this market, especially with condos where the asking price is under $2 million. There are many reasons for this:
- Only 1-5% of the buyers in this segment traditionally have been “foreign”;
- More and more “empty nesters” from the West Side of Vancouver sell their homes after their children have moved out and downsize by moving downtown and retire on the capital gains earned by selling their detached homes;
- The buyers are from all backgrounds: local retired people, young singles and married couples (usually with no children or with small families), Chinese immigrants, Koreans, Iranians, Americans, Eastern Europeans, Middle Easterners, etc. In other words there is strong demand from all segments of the market;
- There seems to be increasing interest in this area from “foreigners” from the USA, typically young hi-tech professionals from San Francisco and San Jose, and older couples from Seattle and Los Angeles, all of them attracted by the diversity, safety, cuisine, scenery and recreational opportunities downtown Vancouver has to offer.
- Being close to the Central Business District is extremely convenient for the tens of thousands of professionals of all kinds who work downtown.
What’s so special about the Downtown core of Vancouver? Well, it depends on the specific neighbourhood:
It could be argued that Yaletown is the most convenient neighbourhood in all of Canada. You can walk to everything: the Seawall that goes to Granville Island and Stanley Park, David Lam Park, the Roundhouse Community Centre, the Yaletown Roundhouse Canada Line station, the Vancouver Aquatic Centre, the beaches of English Bay, the Central Business District, BC Place Stadium, the Orpheum Theatre, 4 supermarkets including a T&T (Chinese grocery store), Rogers Arena, Chinatown, restaurants of all kinds and Elsie Roy Elementary School. The neighbourhood is home to people from all over the world who have come together to form a community.
Prices per square foot: $1,000 ~ $2,500
In terms of convenience, Coal Harbour is almost equal to Yaletown and it’s even closer to the Central Business District. Moreover, Coal Harbour boasts some of the most spectacular views in the world with parks framed by mountains and the blue water of Burrard Inlet. Like Yaletown almost all of the condos were built in the last 3~25 years and attract buyers from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds.
Prices per square foot: $1,200 ~ $3,400
THE WEST END
Unlike Yaletown and Coal Harbour, most of the condos in the West End are older than 30 years. Moreover there are many rental buildings. The West End is right next to world famous Stanley Park, the Seawall, the beaches of English Bay and the aquatic centre. Prices overall tend to be much less than Yaletown and Coal Harbour but there are a number of premium view buildings close to the beaches that command high prices.
Prices per square foot: $700 ~ $2,800
Vancouver’s downtown core offers a huge array of amenities, spectacular views, access to prime greenspace, and cultural diversity all in a small area. It will continue to be a popular place to live for years to come.
Written by Peter Scarrow, former immigration lawyer, currently is the Director of Asian Business at Macdonald Real Estate Group.