Industrial Real Estate Crunch Hits the Valley

This article, Industrial Real-estate Crunch Hits the Valley, was originally published by BCBusiness in November 2017.

A specialist can help you make the right decision for land acquisition

Businesses that regard the Fraser Valley as the solution to their industrial land needs would have been startled by Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun, who at a recent public event announced: “We will run out of serviced industrial land within the next five years at the current rate of intake.”

Nobody is more aware of this than Todd Bohn, partner and industrial specialist at Frontline Real Estate Services Ltd. “People don’t realize how severe the industrial real-estate crunch is in places that are wrongly perceived to have endless land available,” he says.

The reason for this crunch is that companies are continuing in droves to relocate from industrial nodes closer to Vancouver. There are many reasons for this move: proximity to affordable employee housing, more real estate options and relative affordability on all fronts. “Industrial land in Langley and Abbotsford is still more affordable relative to options in Richmond or Burnaby, but prices are climbing quickly and supply is disappearing,” says Bohn. “For example, in 2014 developers were projecting industrial land values in West Abbotsford to be $750,000 per acre. One of those parcels traded earlier this year for $1.3 million, which equates to a 20-per-cent annual growth rate.”

Kyle Dodman, industrial sales and leasing agent for Frontline, adds: “Our experience has been that businesses often underestimate how long the process takes between purchasing land and occupying a new facility. We have worked with numerous clients that have been very proactive in the process; however, it has still taken 24 months due to municipal permitting processes and construction timelines. If you’re thinking of making a move in the next three years, now is the time to start.”

To help their clients expedite the process of understanding their real-estate options and making their purchase, Bohn and Dodman have taken the time to create a database of current and future opportunities in the area. “However, this is only half the battle,” Bohn says.

“Interpreting this data to help our clients make an educated real-estate decision and maximize value is really what we bring to the table. There is plenty of data readily available, but translating it into direct and helpful advice is where we can really add value.”

The agents at Frontline also work closely with the municipalities to understand the processes and current timelines to development, as well as the bigger picture of industrial land inventory. “Municipalities in the Fraser Valley are working tirelessly to update community plans and land-use maps to accommodate the increasing population and the growth of new and established businesses in the area,” says Bohn. “A huge part of this is working to add more land to the industrial land inventory, but it’s a complicated task.”

Frontline’s industrial team has been busy of late in Langley’s Gloucester Industrial Estates and Abbotsford’s Mount Lehman neighbourhood.

“We have had the privilege of working with a variety of awesome local businesses and being involved in lots of transactions in this exciting and competitive market,” Bohn says. And it’s not just local businesses that are eyeing the Fraser Valley either. “We have been proactive in meeting with substantial industrial developers from Vancouver to share our expertise about current and future industrial opportunities in the area,” Bohn says. “The Valley really isn’t a secret anymore.”

Todd Bohn

Personal Real Estate Corporation

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