Our latest in the Global Series interview takes us to Vancouver to meet Will Mckitka and Kevin Hardy. I first met Will and Kevin in Vancouver at the Sotheby’s International Realty Global Networking Event. They live and work in one of the most beautiful locations, and were the most hospitable of hosts when 1000’s of Sotheby’s employees descended on their city! If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit this City and the beautiful countryside surrounding it I would highly recommend a visit.
1. Which City/ area are you from?
Vancouver, Canada- Specializing in Downtown penthouses, luxury condominiums, and detached homes throughout the city.
2. What are the best things to do/ see where you live?
Vancouver is one the great cities in North America blessed with the best geography. It’s natural beauty and moderately warm climate compared to most Canadian/ Northern American cities makes it a favourite for those seeking warmer winters. It’s also a favourite of International Investors, albeit that has slowed in the last few years due to introduction of several taxes aimed at foreign buyers. There are numerous ski mountains within 30 minutes of the Downtown core, sandy beaches, hiking and walking trails and extensive cycling routes throughout the city and of course the World Famous 1,000 acre Stanley Park. There are numerous golf courses open year round. Visitors enjoy an easy day trip to the Capital City of British Columbia- Victoria ( named after Queen Victoria) by way of scenic ferry trips through the San Juan Islands. Another favourite day trip is the 90 min/120 km drive along the Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler/Blackcomb resort, one of the largest and finest in North America. There’s a very diverse and multicultural food scene here to satisfy the savviest of culinary experts too! Vancouverites are friendly and welcome the world.
3. Tell us a little about your market?
Our Market had enjoyed an unprecedented growth and price increases year over for over a decade through the 2000’s. A series of Provincial and City taxes aimed at significantly cooling down the market were introduced 2016-2018. These include Foreign Buyers tax, Vacancy Tax, Speculation tax and Property Transfer taxes. The taxes eventually cooled the markets significantly. Prices dropped by 20% plus in certain segments. Detached homes in tony neighbourhoods which Offshore buyers had previously dominated suffered the most. Sales volume sank and prices slowly adjusted downwards over a 3 1/ 2year period.
Over the last year the market across the board has improved significantly and prices have been again rising slowly. The beginning of 2020 has been a much hotter market. Detached homes in certain hot areas have seen cases of price wars driven by multiple offers and home selling for $200,000-$300,00 over asking price. We were all enjoying the newly rebounding market until the recent COVID-19 outbreak. Our market in the last 3 weeks has come to a near standstill with most buyers taking a “wait and see approach”. There have been no signs of significant price reductions or panic selling to date. People in Vancouver seem willing to ride out this storm for the time being.
4. What is your favourite listing currently on your books and why?
My business partner Kevin and I currently have two listings that we are particularly fond of…
One is an amazing 30th full floor, 7,316 Sq. FT. Penthouse with incredible millwork and finishing. Five-bedrooms, eight-baths but the show stopper is an incredible 2,200 Sq.Ft. wrap around terrace that highlights every quintessential Vancouver view…soaring mountains, parks, beaches and ocean! $12,800,000.
The other is a beautifully restored First Shaughnessy Tudor Revival mansion named The Rosemary. This twelve-bedroom, thirteen-bathroom home is almost 27,000 Sq Ft. and features pristine heritage features and millwork. It’s a Vancouver landmark, The current owner spent four years and over $6,000,000 on a painstaking restoration project. It’s a visual feast with soaring ceilings, grand oak staircases and eleven fireplaces.
5. How has the Covid-19 Pandemic affected your location?
We are currently in a Stay Home directive meaning that persons are asked to stay indoors for the most part except to do essential shopping such as for groceries and pharmacy. All offices and retail stores are virtually close except for essential services. Real estate has been deemed an essential service in B.C. so we are technically allowed to work. Most showings are postponed and the use of Matterport 360 virtual walk through videos are generating buyer calls. We believe that the market will be stalled through at least June.
6. What are your best tips for living/ working from home?
The simple answer is good red wine and Zoom virtual cocktail parties! My Partner Kevin Hardy and I have found the value in maintaining a sense of humour and counting one’s blessing. Taking some time to reflect on simpler times and the little things one used to take for granted give me moments of joy or an unexpected smile. In the back of my head I hear my grandmother’s stories of tough times and how it brought people together in the Great Depression. It makes me smile and feel grateful. Kevin and I are contacting clients and Realtors via phone , emails and Zoom. We believe that it is a time to be sensitive and not appear to be self serving. There will be opportunities for the less risk obverse in the future. For most people the time for that message may be in a month from now, for others that are repeat clients/friends a more informal casual call is always welcome. We’re trying to get organized but like most other humans in this world today sometimes we fall a little short. Most importantly my partner Kevin and I have had a frank discussion to reaffirm the value we find in each other as business partners and friends. The Sotheby’s International Realty Family here in North America has been an incredible support group and terrific for morale as well. Sotheby’s …FOR THOSE THAT SEEK AN INCREDIBLE LIFE!
7. Your best real estate story?
Well I think that’s best left for the memoirs! I’ve been a realtor since I was 20 years old and over the decades I’ve seen a lot of changes and met a lot of people. Realtors are a special breed and generally an exceptional group of people. The best stories usually involve difficult people and heroic actions by hard working realtors. There is one great story that’s so incredible but the NDA does not permit such tattling.
8. Where is on your travel bucket list?
South America is certainly on the list. Also, I’ve always wanted to go to Canadian North – in particular, Churchill Manitoba in the fall when the Polar Bears are migrating and wander right through the streets of this tiny town accessible by rail when the ground is frozen solid. It’s a Canadian thing! I was planning on visiting Guy Bradshaw, this summer on route to Spain and then probably visit friends in Poland and Eastern Europe. I’ve told Guy to put the G and T on hold until the late summer or fall until the covid-19 crisis is more resolved.
9. And finally…….. when are you coming to visit us in London!?
See 8 above… Not soon enough…Guy Bradshaw owes Kevin and I a pint!
Our Chinese market is getting more active recently. One of the reasons is that, as the weather warms for the summer holidays, parents are taking their children on vacations in the UK. Additionally because of Brexit investors are visiting London properties as this may be their last chance to make the most of this period of uncertainty, where uncertainty is holding the prices down. Last month, we have helped our clients reach and agreeable deal and negotiated the best price. Therefore, it is reasonable to predict that in the following months we will see a drastic increase in enquiries and viewings.
It is worth mentioning that some developers have refused to drop their prices during this period because they are still seeing a good number of enquiries. As a result, for those in the Chinese market who are still looking to invest in the UK, it is a signal that time is running out on the ability to get the best deal for an investment property. Now is the time to act!