After the real estate frenzy of Spring 2016, the Asian Journal set about to check on how real estate in the South Fraser has been doing. Ray Hudson spoke with Gopal Sahota, President Fraser Valley Real Estate Board which is concerned with the communities of North Delta, Surrey, White Rock, both Langley’s, Abbotsford and Mission.
Ray Hudson: What has been the aftermath of the ‘frantic spring’ of 2016?
Gopal Sahota: Business as usual. As one of the world’s most desirable regions to live in, people are going to keep coming which will continue to support this real estate market. Historically sales patterns showed the majority of sales have been single-family detached, with 25-30% being the town homes and condos.
This spring, town homes and condos accounted for over fifty percent of the sales, showing that affordability is an important factor. With a wide range of good quality it’s a great time for “boomers” and first time buyers to get into the market. The increasing numbers of baby-boomers now retiring and downsizing are seeking a lifestyle less demanding of home and yard maintenance.
Compared to last year at this time, the market has settled down. Price increases are much more moderate, but the demand has strengthened which keeps the price levels up and the market more stable.
Ray Hudson: Where are the hot areas in the valley?
Gopal Sahota: The so-called ‘hot spots’ depend on where you work, where your wife or husband wants to live and where you want your kids to go to school. Job location is also a factor, where do you want to live and how far do you want to travel to work?
Surrey’s a great place to live with a rapidly growing transportation system. South of the Fraser, most municipalities are pushing for better transportation as evidenced by the focus of Surrey Mayor, Linda Hepner, during her State of the City address which highlighted her city’s efforts to put light rail into effect.
Ray Hudson: With the number of families moving to the valley it seems reasonable that a number of companies would want to be here, closer to their employees.
Gopal Sahota: Langley has some phenomenal areas, great communities, the same with Surrey and Abbotsford, with amenities for young families. I think the demographic projection is that Langley is going to be one of the youngest cities in terms of age. Reflecting that, more schools and sports facilities are being built.
The Real Estate Boards also foster a number of initiatives to enhance community security. “Realty Watch” is a program where realtors, who are generally in the community during the day anyway, are alert to anything or anybody who appears out of place. We are the eyes in the community, always out there, and we work very closely with law enforcement to protect the public. If something critical happens all realtors receive a message from the police, called a “Realty Watch Alert” and often includes a photo and a description. Realtors are part of the community in a big way.
Ray Hudson: How did you get into this industry?
Gopal Sahota: I wanted a career change. I have a degree in Economics, worked in the financial and engineering sectors, latterly in infrastructure management, and I was looking for something more satisfying. My decision was because of people I had dealt with, who made me feel really good, such as the real estate agent when I bought my first house. I can still remember that day, the smell of the juniper bush, an overcast sky and the excitement when he gave me the key. It was a clunker of a house but it’s what I could afford and it was my castle.
Then, when I was an agent and I handed my client the key, I felt like a hero. These guys relied on me to do the right thing. We’d been looking in this market and I actually deterred them from buying two or three homes while the prices were increasing. They were not really the homes they wanted, but they were panicking to get in. I said no, not a good idea because the homes had some issues they would have been stuck with after the fact. When I got them into a house, they were so thankful that they didn’t buy the other two homes. They said. “You could have sold us one of the other houses, made your money, walked away and not cared.” Subsequently they invited me to their house-warming, and introduced me to everybody saying ‘this is the guy you want.’ There’s no feeling like it.