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The year 2020 brought a lot of uncertainty to the Canadian CRE market, especially in urban centers like Edmonton, Toronto, Victoria, and Regina. Several sectors have experienced heavy losses during the COVID-19 lockdowns, but many more have proven to be exceptionally resilient. 

Industrial and multi-residential markets across Canada fared surprisingly well, while office and retail sectors are only now starting to show signs of life after a challenging year. 

To gauge what is to come in Canadian CRE markets, four panellists met up to discuss current and future trends in the industrial, multifamily, office, and retail sectors. Take a look at their expert insights. 

Industrial Sector the Top Performer 

The pandemic has pushed businesses to embrace e-commerce and turn to online orders and deliveries to make ends meet. Unsurprisingly, this paradigm shift has resulted in a significantly increased interest in industrial solutions like warehousing. 

Throughout 2020, the industrial sector has proven to be the most resilient one, making it the safest income-producing investment. The demand for industrial CRE is far outweighing the supply, forcing rents to go up for all quality solutions. The trend is expected to continue, driven in part by the rising shift to e-commerce and Amazon’s aggressive Canadian expansion plans. 

Office Sector Recuperating 

The office sector has fared slightly worse at the start of the pandemic, but it has quickly recuperated. Allied Properties REIT had virtually no tenant failures in 2020, performing an astonishing 258 lease transactions last year, almost half of which were with new tenants to their portfolio. 

While early spring in 2020 disrupted the office sector, things started returning to normal by late fall. It is expected that 2021 will bring no new disruptions as businesses slowly return to offices, so the future is looking bright. 

Suburban Multi-residential Markets Outperforming Downtown Markets 

Multi-residential markets handled the COVID-19 pandemic surprisingly well, despite higher unemployment rates, lower immigration, and reduced student populations. Downtown markets were harder hit and saw a significant increase in vacancies, while suburban multi-residential Canadian CRE markets experienced healthy activity due to lower interest rates, more affordable prices, and more space. 

Experts predict a quick post-pandemic snapback in both urban and suburban demand for multi-residential property. 

Resurgence in Urban Retail Storefront Locations 

It is no secret that the retail sector suffered the heaviest losses during the pandemic. Only essential businesses turned significant profits, with necessity-based retail becoming a top performer in Canadian CRE markets. 

Similar to multi-residential properties, the retail sector proved strongest in suburban markets. However, as more Canadians are vaccinated, it’s expected that the retail sector will shine once again and that we will see a resurgence in urban retail storefront locations. 


Experts estimate that the pandemic was only a temporary disruption and that the Canadian CRE market is set to see healthy activity across different sectors, especially as vaccinations take off. There are plenty of investment opportunities with promising ROI. 

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