In his column, Patrick criticizes the expensive condos that are going to be built along the Broadway Corridor.
"The one thing we know with certainty is that these potential 15 million square feet of new condos will not sell for less than $1,200 a square foot.
You can just barely get a tiny two-bedroom unit into 700 square feet. That means it will cost you $840,000 to get into that baby"
Why does new housing so often cost $1200 psf. Or more? Let's analyze what it costs to build a condominium.
What do you think is the current construction cost for a new concrete building meeting Vancouver's Building code? (Yes, Vancouver has its own Building Code which makes it more expensive to build here than say Burnaby or Richmond).
Is it $200 a foot? $250? $300? $350?
Based on my recent experience, it costs more than $400 a foot for a fairly standard product. Rental or condo. The estimated cost for a 6-storey concrete building on the West Side of Vancouver with which I am familiar is closer to $500 psf.
Now, what do you think the 'soft costs' are? These include consultant fees (on most projects there will be 15 different consultants), permits, DCLs, Metro DCLs, other municipal fees, taxes, Homeowner Protection Office fees, legal, insurance, development management. Guess! Did you say 10% of the construction costs? You're low.
Now let's talk marketing. The bank requires most developers to pre-sell at least 50% of the value of the project. In addition to sales commissions (3-4%), marketing costs are usually another 2-5% depending on size, location, etc.
Now there's financing. In addition to interest costs, how much do you think you must pay mortgage brokers and lenders to arrange a $50 million loan? $100,000? $250,000? $350,000? Guess again.
Now you must remember that although you buy land and pay construction and soft costs to build 100,000 sq ft, you can probably only sell 85,000 sq. ft. Why, you can't sell the corridors, stairwells, elevator, lobby, etc.
Meanwhile, we haven't even considered land cost or municipal Community Amenity Contributions. On June 20, 2018, Council approved new Broadway Corridor CACs of $330 to $425 psf. Really. I'm not making this up!
Now, let's turn to developer's profit. Most financial institutions want to see an estimated profit equal to at least 15% of the costs, recognizing that projects may well take 4 to 5 years from conception to completion. 17.5% is probably an industry norm these days.
So what's my point? Developers don't set out to build luxury projects. But when you add up the costs, you're at luxury prices. Those who recently purchased sites in Vancouver at $450 a foot or more need at least $1500 a foot to make a project viable. And right now, it looks to me like many won't get it.
Yes, you could replace the granite countertops and frameless shower stalls and stainless steel appliances with something a bit more modest, but the savings are bubkes. (https://www.thefreedictionary.com/bubkes)
So to Patrick and others, before criticising developers who only seem to want to build luxury housing, I suggest you study in detail a 2018 real estate proforma. Then you might better understand why those Broadway condos will cost $1200 a foot or more.
To see how we might reduce some of these costs, check out my 2017 SFU Affordable Housing Lecture. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRexc_XABqw
I hope this is helpful. Comments?