BY BILL PHILLIPS
The Prince George real estate market has been steady. And that’s a good thing.
“It’s not boom, it’s not bust and that is actually a healthier market,” said Gord Langer of Brink Boardwalk Properties. “When you get extremes, like in Vancouver, it’s unaffordable. Homes in Prince George today, at the average price level (just under $300,000), are still very, very affordable.”
Houses on the market are selling for about 94 per cent of asking price, some up to 97 per cent. In addition, they are only staying on the market for 30-35 days. This year the market has been better than 2016 and on par with 2015.
New construction, however, has been down. There were 140 new houses 2015 about half of that in 2016 and about 50 new homes this year.
Langer says Prince George has been capitalizing on the hot markets in Vancouver and, more recently, Kelowna as home buyers look north.
“Vancouver residents are taking a good look at Prince George,” he said. “They moved away years ago and now they’re looking at moving back and capitalizing on the gains down there.”
Vancouver home owners can often sell their home there, pay cash for a home here, and end up with money in the bank. That makes the city an attractive place for those looking to get out of the big city.
Boardwalk Properties has been around in Prince George for about 25 years, but in the past couple of years a new owner and a new culture of selling has descended on the company. It was originally Homelife Boardwalk Properties, which gave way to Coldwell Banker Boardwalk Properties for about 14 years.
A couple of years ago the company was bought by the Brink Group of Companies and is now Brink Boardwalk Properties.
“It’s the same company, it’s just owned by the Brink Group of Companies,” said Langer, who is the agent nominee for the company.
With the new ownership comes a different approach to real estate.
“We’re really trying to create a brand within Prince George that really caters to the client,” said Joe Postnikoff, one of the company’s realtors. “We’re bringing in new technology. In our recruiting we make sure agents are really aligned with our culture, which is to execute on the highest level to our clients.”
Postnikoff, who spent 10 years with WestJet prior to getting into real estate, is very familiar with a corporate culture that caters to its clients and he brings that experience to Brink Boardwalk Properties.
Part of that catering to clients includes getting three-dimensional tours of their houses to display online, professional photos, videos of their houses, website and social media exposure and the latest, using drone technology to market properties. The idea is to be consistent with how they present all the properties they are marketing.
“New real estate agents, who come in, will have access to professional photographers, graphic designers, web designers, videographers,” said Postnikoff. “We have a whole package to support real estate agents and make sure people are getting the best value for their home.”
It makes for a consistent and high quality presentation online, where prospective home buyers are turning to to get information about new houses for sale.
“We’re going to assist the agents to provide very professional exposure on all the different media,” said Langer, adding they are recruiting agents. “We not going to re-invent the wheel, but we’re going to re-invent ourselves. We’re looking at all the technologies. The big thing is people want to see pictures.”
And the new owner, John Brink, sets a good example, said Langer.
“John brings a lot of experience from all is other companies,” said Langer. “He thinks out of the box. He really wants quality and he wants to show the consumer we’ve got a really good product.”
Brink Boardwalk Properties has also been busy selling lots in the new Nechako View subdivision, just off Nechako Drive.
“It’s a beautiful subdivision with gravel soils right on the Nechako River,” said Postnikoff.
This the first year they have been selling the lots and about 10 have sold, he said.
Anyone driving along Nechako Drive will notice a few new houses in the subdivision and a few more are slated to begin construction this year.
“Nechako has always been a very desirable spot,” said Langer. “The bowl has basically been developed for a lot of years. North Nechako is very close to downtown.”
Historically a lot of the new housing developments have been on the other side of the city as big box stores and shopping centres sprang up in College Heights, so did the new developments.
The Nechako View subdivision does have a building scheme attached to it in order to ensure high quality. That doesn’t mean cookie cutter houses … far from it. A lot of the homes are custom built homes. The building scheme means there are expectations that the driveways will be finished, yards fenced, landscaped, no vinyl siding … is has to be higher quality material such as Hardi-Plank.
If you follow the building covenant, you end up with a really nice subdivision,” said Langer. “University Heights and the golf course subdivision as Aberdeen golf course are good examples. You get a nice product overall. When you get a whole subdivision that’s finished, the houses retain their value.”
Housing size is also restricted so there won’t be monster houses on small lots.
In addition to the houses in the subdivision, 34 lots right along the river will be strata units. The strata units will also be high quality and, Langer says, there is a definitely a market for them as baby-boomers become empty-nesters and find they don’t need that big house with a big yard anymore.
The strata units will really live up the subdivision’s name as, being right on the river, there will be a great Nechako view.