|STEVE MACNAULL/The Okanagan Saturday|
Urban Development Institute chairman Brian McCauley, centre, was the guest speaker at this week's UDI Okanagan chapter lunch. He's flanked by UDI Okanagan chairwoman Renee Wasyluk, right, of Troika Developments and UDI Pacific CEO
"The market is soft, but there are always opportunities for well-conceived, well-located developments that are priced right."
This is the year to get approvals for projects to be built or to build in phases as the market demands.
"Development is not a tap that you turn on or off," said McCauley, who is also the president of Concert Properties, one of Canada's biggest builders of highrise condominiums and offices.
"It's a continual process."
He played down the sales-and-price-drops doom and gloom projections for the industry.
"We have a normalization of the market," said McCauley.
"It's not the boom (of 2004-08), but it's not the recession (of late 2008-09) either."
McCauley broke his presentation down into eight main points for the audience of developers, bankers and suppliers.
Eighty per cent of Canadians live in Canada's 30 biggest cities and they all need homes.
People also want to live close to where they work meaning densification of downtowns and development along transit routes.
People moving to Canada from other countries is essential to feed the expected labour shortage and to buy homes.
While not exactly immigration, the Okanagan is positioning itself as the place Northern Alberta oil patch workers can base their families and commute to their jobs.
As a result, more home sales.
3) Limited land supply.
Restrictions such as the Agricultural Land Reserve and land already taken up by low-density development (read single-family homes) means redevelopment, densification and building up instead of out.
Development has to be along transit routes to cut down on the number of cars on the roads.
4) Interest rates.
Will only see modest increases in the near future, meaning it should remain a good time to buy a home.
5) Household debt.
It's a concern because it's at record levels and could topple households fiancially in the unlikely event interest rates shoot up suddenly.
6) Condo craze.
As people age and downsize and younger people opt for condos because they are more affordable and in downtown and transit-serviced areas, condominiums are becoming the go-to housing type.
However, sellouts before the building is even started are a thing of the past.
The new norm is one-third pre-sales, one-third selling during construction and the final third purchased after completion.
7) Institutional investors.
Real estate investors want green office buildings on transit routes close to where workers live.
8) Government challenges.
"The days municipalities could treat developers as ATMs are over," said McCauley.
"Costs are always passed onto the end user (home buyer or office renter) and they are looking for affordability."
As such, all levels of government have to keep red tape and development cost charges to a minimum and do their jobs to plan for the right infrastructure and transportation routes.