Skip to main content

While other segments remain stuck in neutral, the high end forges ahead

The water garden at the Concord luxury condos in Calgary.

With unit prices ranging from $800,000 to $13-million, the Concord, Calgary's newest luxury high-rise, is arguably the most grandiose condo development the city has yet seen.

Upon completion in 2018, homeowners can expect to cook in German engineered kitchens by Porsche, which themselves cost as much as a small condo, while parking their actual Porsche in their own personal six-car garage.

Remarkably, amid a real estate market which has endured months of stagnancy, huge price adjustments and oversupply, particularly in the luxury home sector, this $350-million development has been selling, slowly but surely.

Homeowners will be able to cook in German engineered kitchens by Porche.

"It's been steady," says Grant Murray, senior vice-president of sales for Concord Pacific. "This is our first development in Calgary and sales started in 2014 when oil was still running over $100 a barrel. We sold more than 40 units very quickly, but within months Calgary's economy had really tanked and, honestly, we were nervous. But it's been okay. We've been on a run averaging a sale a month for the last 26 months, we're seeing activity in 2017 increase and I think we'll be able to sell out phase one by the time it's complete."

The first phase is a 105-unit tower which Mr. Murray says is currently 70 per cent sold. Sales for the second phase, a 113 unit tower, will launch when phase-one sales hit 85 per cent.

"The smallest unit I have left is 1,060 square feet at $930,000," he says. "Five of the seven penthouses ranging from $3.5-million to $7-million are sold. Two remain; one at $6.5-million and one at $13-million. That's the biggest unit I have left at 6,200 square feet with the same again in deck space on top."

Estate penthouse terraces at the Concord.

"We've sold more of the $2-million to $3-million plans in the last two months than we did right at the beginning," he adds, "There's been good demand for the bigger units which has been somewhat surprising as we're selling without a show suite."

Mr. Murray says the Concord represents good value when compared with the developer's other projects in Canada.

"I sold the Ericson in Vancouver in 2005 for $1,000 a foot, more than a decade later I'm selling most of the units in the Concord for about the same, a little over $1,000 a foot," he says. "Today, the Ericson sells for $3,000 a foot. There's no doubt about this development holding it's value."

With construction now at podium level and building about to commence on the first tower, Mr. Murray says the plan is to finish off a couple of floors and a show suite as soon as possible to secure the last remaining sales.

"We had an offer on the smaller penthouse last year but it didn't finalize," he says, "I'm confident the larger one will sell but as a contingency we can divide it in two if we have to."

Mr. Murray says the majority of the Concord's buyers are older, local and downsizing from suburban detached homes. It's a profile that fits for Kerry Merriman, 60, and Ella Beesley, 54, who purchased a 1,500 square feet condo in the development two months ago.

Currently the couple are living in their respective detached homes: Mr. Merriman in Shawnessy and Ms. Beesley in New Brighton. Mr. Merriman plans to sell his home next spring while Ms. Beesley will keep hers in the short-term, renting it out to her grown up children. Their condo in the Concord will be their first home together in what Ms. Beesley calls "an exciting new chapter in both our lives."

"We've thought very carefully about what we want out of this next stage we're heading into," she says, "we consider it a really meaningful time in our lives and we feel we deserve it. Kerry's looking at retirement but I'll be working for another 10 years. We want to be living somewhere we can continue to live for a long time. We want to be able to walk for groceries and go to the things that are happening downtown. We want a low maintenance lifestyle that lets us enjoy ourselves."

"Most people I know in my age group, I'd say more than half, are moving into condos and townhouses these days," adds Mr. Merriman.

Mr. Murray says demand from an increasing number of affluent Calgarians looking to overhaul their lifestyle as they approach retirement is, in part, responsible for the success of the development. The rest is down to lack of competition.

Grant Murray says the Concord represents good value when compared with the developer’s other projects in Canada.

"After the oil price crashed a lot of condo developments, especially the high end ones, were shelved. Some developments might have a penthouse or two but that's a different product. Our only competitor was a development called the River but I believe they're nearly sold out now so if you want new, luxury and a condo, and this is your price range, you're going to be buying from us."

The River, a 38-unit luxury condo townhouse development, completed in 2015, is just two unit sales away from being sold out. It also bucked the downward trend, reporting multiple multimillion-dollar unit sales throughout 2015 and 2016.

Ann-Marie Lurie, chief economist at the Calgary Real Estate Board, agrees it's a simple case of supply and demand.

"Condos make up just 20 per cent of total resale in Calgary and homes over $800,000 account for just 10 per cent of the resale market. So condos over $800,000 is a really small segment of the market," she explains.

"This kind of product is new to Calgary; large luxury condos which are probably more comparable to our luxury detached market than our traditional condo market. Because there are so few of them, they need a relatively small amount of demand to be successful," she continues.

According to Ms. Lurie, the whole luxury home market in Calgary has taken a turn for the better in recent months.

The majority of the Concord’s buyers are older, local and downsizing from suburban detached homes.

"The luxury market in Calgary is showing signs of recovery. Year to date so far, we've had 397 detached sales over $800,000 compared with 286 for the same period in 2016 and 269 in 2015. Looking specifically at resale condos within that price range, year to date we've seen 11 condos sell over $800,000 compared with just 4 for the same period in 2016," she says.

"In this price range and with this product, the Concord is attracting a very specific clientele and their sensitivity to market conditions are different," she adds. "It's a niche and sometimes niches do well for these reasons."

Mr. Murray says Concord Pacific will continue to play to niche markets as it works through the design phase of it's second Calgary development, a 12-acre master planned community on the site of a Sears store, with adjoining parking lots, at North Hills shopping mall in the Northwest.

"We'll be building in Calgary for the next 20 years," he says confidently, "there's no doubt about that."