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West Van condo tower sees fast sales during pandemic

Luxury project has pre-sold 54 condos in the last month, including a $6 million penthouse

Launched in the teeth of a pandemic, a new 122-unit luxury condominium tower in West Vancouver has pre-sold 54 condos in the last month, including a $6 million penthouse, and the head of its marketing team suggest the success is more than a geographic anomaly.

The Sentinel project has been working through the planning process since 2015, noted Cameron McNeill, a partner in MLA Canada, and is the first condo tower approved in central West Vancouver in years.

“A lot of people were aware of the Sentinel for a long time,” McNeill said, and signage had been posted along Marine Drive for months.

A presentation centre was built, but only a few serious buyers ever visited it due to the COVID-19 restrictions on distancing, McNeill explained. Virtually all of the sales were done through online marketing, 3D presentations and virtual meetings, he said, in cooperation with a network of North Shore real estate agents.

“The sales are pretty fantastic considering what has been happening over the past 30 days,” McNeill said, adding that all the buyers were locals.

Even before the pandemic, monthly sales of existing condos in West Vancouver rarely rose above nine units, according to data from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV)

At 26 storeys, the Sentinel will be the tallest building in West Vancouver. It is located in the Lions Gate Village area, just east of Park Royal shopping centre. The May marketing plan released 66 condos on alternate floors after a 200-person focus group of potential buyers confirmed interest in the project, McNeil said,

The average price of the 54 condos sold is $980,000 and the average per-square-foot price is $1,380, not counting the penthouses and sub-penthouses that start north of $1.5 million. Aside from spectacular views, the tower has air conditioning, high speed elevators and upscale spa and lounge facilities among its luxury features.

With the performance of the first phase, MLA  is now releasing the remaining units and Denna Homes will begin construction this summer. Completion is expected late in 2022, seven years after the project was first presented to West Vancouver council.

McNeill said other new projects his team is marketing are also seeing stronger pre-sales than expected, especially Surrey and Langley townhouse developments, where he said buyers, mostly young families, are “very active.”

Metro Vancouver housing sales reached 1,485 homes in May 2020, a 33.9% increase from April, reports the REBGV. Sales were down 43.7% from May of 2019, but the composite benchmark price is 2.9% higher than a year ago at $1.02 million.

McNeill urged caution for developers. He said the return to a pre-COVID-19 sales activity may take six to 12 months and many buyers remain reticent about the housing market.

“The people who believe in the long term for Canada and [Metro]Vancouver are the ones who are buying real estate now,” he said.