Interview with luxury real estate broker Kevin Chen on how to safely enter the Vancouver market
By Alexander Frakking, Real Estate Editor
August 12, 2021
To Kevin Chen, hockey and real estate are nearly the same.
“They’re both all about teamwork”, says Chen enthusiastically. “You have to stay in touch and communicate with your client and partners throughout the whole process. Just like in hockey; you need to stay in position and let your teammates know when you’re open.”
Vancouver’s luxury real estate market is definitely still hot. During the first half of 2021, sales of residential properties with a price over $1 million have more than doubled compared to the same period last year. According to a recent Sotheby’s Canada report, a healthy 40 percent of them were sold above listing price.
We interviewed Kevin Chen to learn where the market is heading, and how new sellers can safely enter it. Mr. Chen and his business partner Matt Zhang are international real estate experts, specializing in Vancouver luxury properties.
Estate Monthly: People have been hearing so much about how hot the market has been over the past year. How would you describe the Vancouver market at this time?
Kevin Chen: You’ll remember back in November of 2019, the Vancouver market was really starting to pick up, and then COVID hit. Things became so quiet with lockdowns and quarantines.Then in March/April, many people found they had more spare time and cash because they weren’t traveling and spending like they normally did.
That’s when many began upgrading their homes, such as from condo to a townhouse, or townhouse to duplex. Now since July we’re seeing the real estate market pick up even more. So the market is still hot.
Estate Monthly: How do you think the market will change over the next few months?
Kevin Chen: Right now everyone is getting vaccinated and cases are low. The students are coming back, and even international travel is resuming, including visitors from Hong Kong. Plus other immigration is opening again, so I can only see the market picking up further.
Estate Monthly: Speaking of international travel, I saw that you’re fluent in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Taiwanese. Do you find that helpful for connecting with buyers?
Kevin Chen: Definitely. Real estate is an international business and so people feel more welcome, and more confident with their own language. We can discuss properties and review contracts in their native language, which helps a lot.
Estate Monthly: Since prices have been high for so many months now, what would you say to someone thinking of selling but worried about being late and missing out?
Kevin Chen: Yes, a lot of potential sellers are worried about missing out. To address that, we make sure transactions are fast by getting everything prepared at the beginning. So for example, if they can sell their home for around $800,000, they can speak with their bank or mortgage broker to understand what kind of purchase power they can get with that. They can plan during sales negotiations to allow two or three months to find a new place and move.
Backup plans are important also. For example, if they sell their home but cannot buy a new property in time, we want to help them get a temporary rental property. All of this careful planning allows for a stress-free sale and transition to a new home.
Estate Monthly: That’s great information for a first-time seller. What’s one mistake that Vancouver-area sellers often make?
Kevin Chen: Some sellers want to overspend on their new property, and when they eventually realize they can’t afford it, it complicates their moving experience. So we really help them understand the whole cost of owning their new home, such as strata fees, property tax, and other costs.
Estate Monthly: And how long in advance of an intended sale date should a seller find an agent?
Kevin Chen: There are always essential tasks such as basic repairs and cleaning out personal belongings so we can get nice clean photos, so at least three weeks in advance is ideal. But if they are a first time home seller or buyer, it can take longer to handle the financials such as property transfer tax and other details.
This article is opinion and not a substitute for professional advice. Disclaimer
Expert Real Estate Opinion for Local Markets
Estate Monthly is a real estate and estate management publication for U.S. and Canadian markets, featuring opinion articles and interviews with recognized expert agents, property managers, and tax specialists across North America.