Getting from Richmond to downtown Vancouver is easy via the SkyTrain Canada Line, and there are lots of residential and commercial development projects underway around these transit stations. A number of bridges and tunnels connect the main island to Vancouver and neighbouring Delta, and Highways 91 and 99 run through the city, which connect to Interstate 5 at the U.S. border.
Richmond has several major commercial centres and malls, including Richmond Centre, Aberdeen Centre, Parker Place and McArthur Glen Vancouver. It is especially renowned for its Golden Village Asian shopping district and Alexandra Road, which is known as “Food Street” for its numerous famed restaurants.
Richmond prides itself on providing locals with a green lifestyle. The city has an extensive 145-park system, 73 kilometres of trails and 60 kilometres of cycling paths. Garry Point Park is especially popular for its beaches and North Shore mountain views. Residents also enjoy a number of annual festivals, including the Steveston Salmon Festival, Richmond Maritime Festival and summer Richmond Night Market.
Pre-COVID real estate market
Even before the pandemic, each of these cities was experiencing hot home-buying demand, with double-digit year-over-year percentage increases in sales, and modest price growth. Sales had increased 55.2% in Burnaby between March 2019 and 2020, with the price of benchmark homes coming in at $965,900 in Burnaby East (up 2.8%), and $888,900 in Burnaby North (up 2.2%), though Burnaby South actually increased a slight decline of 1.4%, to $967,200. New Westminster sales had risen 55.2% year over year, with the benchmark price up 2.9% to $749,000, and Richmond sales had soared 88.2% annually with a benchmark price of $795,000 (up 1.2%).
Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic
When the initial COVID-19 lockdown came into effect, it had immediate consequences for the Burnaby, New Westminster and Richmond housing markets. In Burnaby, sales plunged across all housing types by more than 50% between March 2020 and April 2020, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. Benchmark home prices stayed relatively flat across the city, at $893,900 in Burnaby North, $926,200 in Burnaby East, and $967,900 in Burnaby South. However, by June 2020, the market had returned to more seasonally typical conditions: sales were up 135% from April levels for detached houses, 24% for attached, and 129% for apartments, though average prices saw little growth.
In New Westminster, pre-pandemic sales were starting to see an uptick, up 45.6% in March 2020, though prices had been flat, up 2.2% year over year, at a benchmark of $662,400. In April, sales fell by 49%, while listings fell by 55%. The price stayed stable, increasing 0.1% month over month and 0.7% year over year.
The impact of the pandemic shock had worn off by June, with sales up 61% from April, listings up 194%, the price was still flat, up 0.5%.
Richmond, however, had been enjoying a strong boost in sales prior to the onslaught of COVID-19; activity was up 88% in March 2020 with 335 sales, at a benchmark price of $940,800. By April, sales had decreased 50%, though prices remained untouched. As seen in the surrounding municipalities, recovery was evident by June with a 98% uptick in sales, though prices had yet to experience any upward movement.