Thursday, March 4, 2010

Olympic visitors drop millions on local luxury suites

Coal Harbour penthouse sold for $22.3 million

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Some 2010 Olympic spectators went home with more than red mittens as souvenirs following the closing ceremony of the Games last weekend.

According to George Wong, who heads up Vancouver-based Magnum Projects, three luxury suites sold in two high-end towers between Feb. 12 and 28 were purchased by visitors in the city specifically for the Olympics. The most expensive of the suites was a $22.3 million penthouse sold in Three Harbour Green, an Aspac Development tower under construction in Coal Harbour, next to what was the Olympic International Broadcast Centre. In total, Aspac sold $31.8 million worth of real estate between Three Harbour Green and The Westbrook, located at UBC, to Olympic visitors.

"I believed the Olympics would bring a lot of well-heeled international people and it turned out that way," said Wong. "And it turned out the timing was right. A lot of people said there was no [real estate] business to be done during the Olympics, but that wasn't the case."

Wong said when someone on vacation falls in love with an area, they typically look to buy. But unlike someone who falls in love with a village in Mexico and decides to buy a condo for $20,000, these buyers are willing to spend big bucks to purchase a home in Vancouver. He explained the people buying these multi-million dollar properties are well travelled and know real estate in Vancouver is still a bargain compared to cities such as New York, London or Tokyo.

"These are truly international buyers who have seen the best parts of the world," said Wong. "Considering Vancouver was named the most liveable city in the world by the United Nations and the second most beautiful city by Forbes Travel, and is, I hope, terrorist free, it's a bargain comparatively to many other cities. We are a world class city."

Wong added the beautiful weather Vancouver experienced for much of the Olympic Games didn't hurt either. "And the atmosphere was so exciting," said Wong. "People just fell in love with Vancouver."

Bob Rennie, the name and face behind Rennie Marketing Systems, said his company had a lot of interest in properties from Olympic visitors, but only a few sales were finalized. He noted the Jameson House development on West Pender received a lot of attention because of its downtown location, as did the Olympic Athletes Village, most of which is being sold as market housing with occupancy scheduled for later this year.

"But the Athletes Village is in an [Olympic] security zone, so it was very hard to stand on the street and point out its amenities, without actually showing any units," said Rennie. "We have a lot of people planning return trips to see the units once the security comes down."

Salina Kai, a realtor with Rennie and Associates Realty, agreed. "People were hesitant to try and get into those high traffic areas to look at properties," she said. "Because of that we saw a lot of interest, but few purchases."

Kai also saw a lot of interest and real estate sales in the past several weeks that weren't Olympics related. "The ones who did make purchases were from mainland China, but I think that had more to do with Chinese New Year."

No comments: