Olympic construction

With Vancouver real estate at a crossroads, it's time for a realty check

B.C. real estateand specifically Vancouver real estatehas long been subject to boom-and-bust cycles. Speculation arrived on the Granville townsite with the railway in the 1880s, flourished with the influx of investors from Asia in the 1980s and gave legs to the mortgage scams and leaky condos of the 1990s. This time round, easy credit fed the boom – most spectacularly stateside, but also extending to the U.K. and the emergent economies of eastern Europe and Asia. Vancouver took its place on the global stage as developers and marketers turned here for expertise in selling their latest projects, and in short order “super, natural British Columbia” became the best place on earth to buy property.

While the first cracks in the global property boom started appearing in 2005, it wasn’t until the bankruptcy of Lehman Bros. on Sept. 15, 2008, that the problem of tightened credit really hit home, cutting off the lifeblood of local developersmost notably Millennium Development Group, builder of the Vancouver Olympic Villageand driving a nail through the heart of consumer confidence.

In our 2009 review of the local real estate market, we look at three themes or projects that defined the boomthe international marketing of Vancouver, transit-related densification across the Lower Mainland and the landmark Olympic Village developmentand ponder how well they might hold up in what could be the toughest year for B.C. real estate in over a decade.