In Vancouver real estate, ‘the battle is getting the listing’
Ian Holliday, CTV Vancouver
Published Sunday, February 14, 2016 6:04PM PST
Last Updated Monday, February 15, 2016 7:49AM PST
The flyer Charlie Kiers mailed out to Vancouver homeowners isn’t exactly subtle, but then, it’s not supposed to be.
“Truth in advertising,” Kiers said of the mailing, which boasts that his RE/MAX Metro Realty is “the Chinese Buyer’s Connection” and can get sellers extra money for their properties by selling to foreign buyers.
“Yeah, it’s reality,” he said. “I wasn’t trying to be negative in any way, I was just trying to be realistic and just trying to offer my services for them to get the most money for their home.”
Kiers is hardly the only real estate agent making the case to local homeowners that they should sell to buyers from outside Canada.
Flyers from lots of different companies have been hitting local mailboxes in recent months, as the average price of a detached home in the City of Vancouver soared past $1.8 million.
The city’s 11,000 real estate agents aren’t concerned about selling, Kiers said.
“The battle is getting the listing,” he said. “It’s tough out there. There’s lots of competition. Getting a listing is going to get you a sale for your clients quickly.”
The market for detached homes in Vancouver is so hot that most new listings get multiple offers almost immediately, usually above the asking price.
Not all of the foreign buyers are from China, either. Kiers said the low value of the Canadian dollar has drawn Americans back into the market as well.
Regardless of where the investors putting their money in Vancouver real estate are coming from, however, the attitude espoused in the flyer Kiers sent out - and the countless others like it - doesn’t sit well with David Eby.
“I think there is a huge issue around public confidence in the real estate industry right now, and with good reason” the New Democrat MLA for Vancouver-Point Grey and opposition housing critic told CTV News.
“These ads that say, ‘Don’t be so stupid as to sell to somebody who’s working in British Columbia, who lives here, who contributes to the community, instead sell it to an investor anywhere else in the world’ - when you send that message, you tell people that you don’t care about our community, you don’t care about British Columbia, you don’t care about housing affordability. It’s all about greed.”
Last week, Eby demanded an inquiry into so-called “shadow-flipping” - where houses are sold multiple times in quick succession by “assigning” the contract to new buyers - another practice he said reflects poorly on the practices of the real estate industry.
Vancouver’s mayor Gregor Robertson has also weighed in on the housing market in recent days, calling it “unfair” to people who live and work in Vancouver.
There’s no question that people who live in the city are hurt by the superheated market, especially when some buyers seem to have what Kiers called “unlimited money.”
Then again, it’s the nature of the market that if people are willing to bid higher and higher - and can afford to do so - they’re going to end up winning.
“If there’s more than one buyer putting an offer in on the property, then only one buyer’s going to win,” Kiers said. “Whoever has the most money is going to buy the place.”
With files from CTV Vancouver’s Tom Popyk