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They say hindsight is 20/20, and seeing the amazing run up in value the Vancouver real estate market has had in the past 20 years, it’s fair to say we all wish we would have bought more.
Some people would even say that if you buy in now, you might have missed the boat… but don’t worry! If this is you, we might have found the next Vancouver real estate market and it’s only a short “boat” ride away.
This week, Matt and Cory welcome Chard Development’s President and CEO Byron Chard to talk about the booming Victoria real estate market. Byron discusses everything Victoria and some of the exciting projects Chard has in the pipeline. He shares some of his thoughts on where the Victoria market is headed and some of the stats might surprise you and sound familiar to Vancouverites.
If you’re looking for that next real estate market to invest in and want to get in before it’s too late, make sure to grab a pen and notepad and listen to this episode!
Please tell us about Chard and about yourself.
Chard is a family developer based in Vancouver. My father started the company 27 years ago and I took it over three years ago. We have about 20% of our projects on the island (with the other 80% in Vancouver) and we’re 60-70% in residential. We are primarily focused on the fringe of urban centres. For example, we bought on Main Street back in 2015 and now it’s one of the best places in the city. We focus on quality and experience all the way down the supply chain. We have even had some of our residential buyers buy in our strata office buildings. We’re very proud of that and strive to hit 20% repeat buyers on all of our projects.
I’m an accountant by trade and studied at Western University. I worked in Dallas with Ernst & Young on a two week assignment that turned into a two year assignment. I worked hard and said yes to every opportunity. And that’s what got me to where I am today. You need to be humble, raise your hand and roll up your sleeves.
I then worked for a developer here in Vancouver before joining the family business. My father and I have a mutual respect for one another and have had no problems in eight years of business together.
Was there a strategy to working with other companies before joining Chard?
It is who my father is: He allowed my siblings and I to chart our own paths. He’s very supportive of the paths we want to take. It wasn’t until I approached him and showed interest in joining the family company that our business relationship organically grew. But I didn’t know I wanted to join the company originally and he never pushed that on me.
Chard has been a big developer in Victoria in the Harris Green district, just outside the downtown core. What have you seen in the evolution of the Victoria market?
Our goal in Victoria has been to try and add to the vibrancy of downtown. Victoria has become more sophisticated in recent years but the dynamics have not changed. Buyers come in waves and this year we did have a very strong July. This September we’re seeing a lot of strong traffic too.
Victoria has seen huge growth lately, outpacing Vancouver and most of Canada. The year over year growth in Victoria is 1.52%, while it’s 1.06% in Vancouver and just below 1% for all of BC. So Victoria is growing almost twice as fast as Vancouver. The immigration cycle in Victoria is also very different – it’s more of an interprovincial hot spot. A lot of people come over to the island from other provinces and the Metro Vancouver area. People love the climate. We’re seeing a lot of people in their 30s/40s moving over to start a business or bring their business with them. So we’ve seen a lot of sophistication in the buyers and the market in general.
Let’s talk about your current project, The Nest. Where are you at with that project?
The Nest is around 40% sold; we started sales about four months ago and we’re in a really strong position. We had a lot of strength from our repeat buyers right from the beginning.
Absorption is slower in Victoria because it’s a smaller market. You have to design to appeal to all demographics and affordability levels. We’re seeing owner-users who are downsizing into two-bedrooms or larger one-bedrooms. And we’re seeing investors buying the smaller one-bedrooms where they see the rental opportunity. Rental rates are very high and vacancy is very low in Victoria.
In 2017, we launched Yates. That was a very strong time in the market so it’s hard to compare The Nest to that. But it usually takes us 8-9 months in Victoria to get 25% sold. And we always put a shovel in the ground when we hit 25%. So that’s what we’re going to do with The Nest.
Can you tell us more about the Harris Green neighbourhood?
It’s becoming Victoria’s Main Street. It is going to have a great mix of residential, commercial and office. I would compare it to Stanley Park or Queen Elizabeth. You’re close to Beacon Hill and close to Fairfield. It’s where the best neighbourhoods meet – between Fairfield and downtown – with that great neighbourhood feel.
I definitely see it becoming like Yaletown. But it depends how we position the buildings. In Vivid, we had a unique partnership with BC Housing. We sold at 10% below market to get people into home ownership, which appealed to the younger market. So that’s why we have that younger, professional demographic. We’re very proud of being able to help people get into the housing market.
We have a mews in our Nest and Haven buildings that make them more integrated and helps bring out the vibrancy in the community. We have rentals and affordable housing; all types of housing together in one area helps to mitigate issues down the road.
What is the rental market like in Victoria? How is it different from Vancouver’s rental market?
We build high-quality, condo-like rental buildings. Rental is thought of as second-class housing but that is incorrect. It’s a different mindset than home ownership and that mindset needs to be respected. In Vancouver, we see renters who are more transient. They’ve just moved here, like healthcare professionals or Amazon employees, for work or for lifestyle.
On the island, it’s an interesting dynamic with renters. We see interprovincial migrants coming to the island to test it out. We see young professionals and students as well. The speculation tax is an interesting factor. People from Alberta or Ontario will buy second homes on the island and rent them out to avoid paying additional taxes.
What projects do you have in the pipeline? What other asset classes are you excited about?
We are urban builders and that was the strategy behind our recent White Spot site. It’s a strategic buy to continue to expand the downtown Victoria core. I think it will be a welcome addition to the community and we look forward to working with the community to understand what they want to see there.
We have a hotel development in downtown Victoria. It’s an exciting project we’ve had in the works since 2016. This is an opportunity to continue to support the Victoria economy with a heritage property in partnership with Hyatt hotels.
In terms of asset classes, I love light industrial. We’ve never played in Langford and don’t have plans to. We know downtown Victoria well and plan to stay there. We want to add a quality housing experience to places like Sidney and Esquimalt as well.
How does Chard manage its diverse property types?
We’ve always been very opportunistic. My father’s experience was in commercial and so was mine. We find residential to be more detailed whereas commercial is more strategic. We have a great finance team who spends time looking at different trends so we can follow the economy and demographics. We essentially have our own in-house dashboard. On the design side, we work with great consultants to stay nimble.
Real estate comes down to people. We work with so many different people and everyone brings their own layer to the project. That helps us stay diverse and stay nimble. We can always adjust to maximize the value of our project for our partners and the community.
What’s next for Chard? Are you looking into new areas?
We’re looking to remain in the core regions we know well because we don’t want to spread ourselves too thin. We diversify ourselves by being in many different asset classes, but only a few areas. For example, we’ve tried to centralize in Mount Pleasant in Vancouver. We understand the dynamics of a region and specialize there.
We’re also starting two new projects in the Marpole region. We look at where the opportunities are and where people want to live and work. We’re excited to work with the community and create some much-needed rental there.
We’ll always look at new opportunities if the price is right but right now our focus is on the neighbourhoods we know really well.
Where do you see office going?
I think some industries will use less office space. They have the luxury to work more remotely. But other industries will need more office space. Companies will need to look at their design and decide what they need. Management needs to talk to their staff and understand what people are looking for. But I do think the office will come back. People will want that balance – the flexibility to work from home or in the office. You should trust your employees to make the right decision and work hard for you.
We need to design spaces that are flexible, that make people want to come into the office. Lower tier spaces are going to struggle.
Do you see Chard expanding their office portfolio? Where would you look to buy?
We do have one office building downtown, at Pender and Homer, that is a medium-scale project. We like projects around 30,000-90,000 square feet. The strata office we have in Marpole is about 90,000 square feet. It comes down to location: Where do we insert ourselves into the developer spectrum?
Why do you like Vancouver and Victoria for purpose-built rental?
Vancouver and Victoria are great places to live and people need homes here. Great cities with lifestyle amenities will continue to attract individuals. I understand low cap rates but it is a safe investment. We see that especially with pension funds who have to guarantee retirement income. The security that rentals offer should not be overlooked.
How do you think about risk mitigation?
Risk is always on our radar. I never want us to back ourselves into a corner; that’s why we have so many different asset classes. We’ve allowed ourselves that flexibility to pivot.
What advice do you have for someone looking to get into commercial real estate in Vancouver or Victoria?
Stay true to yourself, how you conduct your business and who you deal with. There’s always another deal but at the end of the day, the most important thing is who you do those deals with. That creates a better experience and a better investment.
Find out more: charddevelopment.com
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The ongoing debate on Vancouver Island right now is Victoria or Nanaimo? Robin Kelley of the Groupe Denux, one of Vancouver Island’s long-standing families of real estate, provides insight on both markets and how each market has fared over the years, and unpacks which asset classes he thinks will continue to grow.
Rod MacKay of WWC’s Vancouver office discusses the most unpredictable year we’ve had in real estate yet. From faster than expected rising interest rates, to record breaking month-over-month inflation, to worldwide supply chain issues… 2022 has been anything but predictable.
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On a national and provincial level, one of the most exciting real estate markets has been Victoria. Mayor of Victoria, Lisa Helps, unpacks how Victoria got to where it is today, the goals she has accomplished in her eight years as mayor, and unveils what’s in store for BC’s capital city.
If you’ve been following the real estate markets in BC, you’ll know today’s hottest topic is the rapidly rising interest rates. Jon Switzer of Impact Commercial sheds light on how to navigate the next few months and provides tips on what to look for in your next purchase to maximize your lending ability.
Mike Kozakowski, founder of Citified Media and citified.ca, a comprehensive resource for researching new-build homes and commercial spaces on Vancouver Island, gives a glimpse into the years and years of new construction data Citified has tracked in the Greater Victoria area.
Sam Wilson, renowned host of the hugely popular podcast, How to Scale Commercial Real Estate, uncovers his roots in commercial investing, shares some mistakes he has made along the way, and talks us through what a good deal looks like to him.
If you had to guess which real estate market saw one of the biggest increases in commercial property value over the past 2 years, would you have guessed Chilliwack? David Algra of Algra Bros. Developments discusses their current downtown Chilliwack project, District 1881.
Leonard Krog, Mayor of Nanaimo, shares some great insight on all the new and upcoming projects and what the future holds for the port city. Plus, we dive into the highly anticipated and forthcoming OCP for the downtown and surrounding areas.
Cory and the team are hitting the beach this week for a well deserved break. Next week we are back with another phenomenal episode. Stay tuned!
Named Canada’s fastest growing city with a 14% increase in population since 2016, Jon Friesen, CEO of the Mission Group, the company behind some of Kelowna’s spectacular tower developments, discusses why Kelowna has seen such a massive growth over the past 5 years and what the future looks like.
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Have you ever wanted to make the money real estate developers do? Ravi Mann of PROPetual REIT and the Isle of Mann Property Group discusses the exciting new investment opportunities that can get anyone through the real estate investment door for as little as $5,000.
Have you ever wanted to make the money real estate developers do? Ravi Mann of PROPetual REIT and the Isle of Mann Property Group discusses the exciting new investment opportunities that can get anyone through the real estate investment door for as little as $5,000.
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Over the past 20 months, most industries have seen a lot of change and the law industry is no different. Tim Lack of Redpoint Law discusses the ever-changing world of the legal side of commercial real estate and shares insight on how the pandemic has changed how commercial real estate is leased, sold, and financed.
Over the past 20+ months, we have heard about supply chain issues, labour shortages, and logistical challenges, and this all has a direct impact on the construction of real estate in the province. Owen Lecky of Wales McLelland unwraps the issues that have been affecting our real estate market.
Do you own a property with lots of equity that has built up over the years? Alan Haigh of Impact Commercial Group, one of BC’s leaders in commercial mortgages, explains how to tap into that equity and turn one property into a thriving commercial portfolio without having to sell your asset.
Wishing our listeners a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
From Keltic Development Canada, Steve Jedreicich, Senior VP of Development, and Andy Tam, Senior VP of Business Development, discuss their recent 27-acre acquisition in Richmond, which tops off this year as the biggest transaction of 2021 at a whopping $300,000,000!
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Do you own a condo in a rapidly developing area where the land might be better suited for an incoming high-rise? Meg Cooney, strata wind-up specialist, discusses what a strata wind-up is, how your condo might be worth way more than you think to a developer, and how to use this strategy on your next real estate investment.
Ever wonder what makes Surrey so attractive for both businesses and families? Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, discusses Canada’s next big major city, breaks down the economic drivers behind the massive growth, and shares what makes it attractive for so many developers.
Maxime Charron, President of LeadingAhead Energy, an industry-leading electric car charging solution provider, talks about how the impact that electric vehicles are having on society is causing more and more developers and commercial landlords to install EV car charging solutions on their properties.
It’s no secret downtown Vancouver has been slower than its pre-COVID form, but is it as bad as other cities? Nolan Marshall, CEO of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA), discusses what’s next for downtown Vancouver and how things have fared over the pandemic.
Did you find the perfect commercial property to invest in, but you’re not sure where or how to start? Matthew Dunnigan, commercial mortgage specialist from Impact Commercial Group, breaks down all the steps needed to acquire that commercial investment property you’ve always wanted.
Peter Leung, the Investorpreneur himself, who has amassed an international real estate portfolio in London, Vancouver, and Hong Kong, provides his insight on how to get started in commercial real estate and how commercial offers greater opportunities for investors who require funding.
So many commercial real estate deals happen off the MLS, so where do investors go for market data? Raymond Wong, Vice President, Data Operations of Altus Group, details why Altus is a one-stop shop when it comes to data and research in the world of commercial real estate across Canada.
Senior writer Frank O’Brien of Glacier Media, home of Business in Vancouver and Western Investor, shares where he sees the winners and losers in the post-COVID era. He also gives a sneak peek at the upcoming Best in BC, where he and his team predict the 5 best real estate markets in 2022.
Don’t have the millions of dollars needed to enter self storage in BC? Don’t worry! Hugh Cartwright, Co-founder and Chairman of NationWide Self Storage Trust, breaks down the investment opportunities their self storage developments offer for as little as $10,000.
They say hindsight is 20/20 and looking back at the Vancouver real estate market, it’s fair to say we all wish we would have bought more. Chard Development’s President and CEO Byron Chard talks about the booming Victoria real estate market and his thoughts on where the Victoria market is headed.
Strand Development’s President Mike Mackay discusses everything Langford, BC. With the recent acquisition of the former Langford Speedway, which encompasses over 80 acres of prime development land, the excitement of the Greater Vancouver Island industrial market just keeps growing.
For all the curious minds interested in commercial real estate investing, grab a coffee and pull up a chair because we have exclusive stories and tips from commercial real estate brokers, investors, developers, economists, urban planners, and everyone in-between. From the successes and failures to the motivations and lessons learned, the Vancouver Commercial Real Estate Podcast is your insight into commercial real estate in Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna, and beyond.
What's the best real estate market to invest in? What are the commercial real estate asset classes and property types? Hosted by Cory Wright, founder of William Wright Commercial, and co-hosts Adam and Matt Scalena of the Vancouver Real Estate Podcast, our podcast opens the door to real estate investing for everyone from beginner investors to experienced real estate professionals. New episodes are released every Tuesday. Follow the Vancouver Commercial Real Estate Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or your favourite streaming platforms.
This communication is not intended to cause or induce breach of an existing agency agreement. E&OE: All information contained herein is from sources deemed reliable, and have no reason to doubt its accuracy; however, no guarantee or responsibility is assumed thereof, and it shall not form any part of future contracts. Properties are submitted subject to errors and omissions and all information should be carefully verified. All measurements quoted herein are approximate.
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