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David's thoughts on anything real estate related


The quick answer is it depends. Some Realtors rely on referrals and word of mouth while others invest heavily into marketing themselves. 

For myself I tried heavy marketing early in my career and found it to be very difficult to out-market the agents that had been in the business for decades. I still market my recent sales via direct mail (at a cost of around $250 per sale), but the majority of my listings and buyer clients come from referrals and word of mouth. 

My office overhead is around $800 per month. This covers my brokerage fee, insurance and board fees. 

Other monthly costs related to marketing include website hosting, my email campaign program and a company that I pay monthly for statistics (SnapStats). These costs amount to around $300 per month.

I also have ongoing education at around $500 per year. The real estate council and real estate board requires that all agents take a certain amount of professional courses every 2 years.

As I mentioned above, most realtors invest in marketing themselves.  I prefer to redirect these costs into each of my listings. For every listing whether it is valued at $500,000 or $5,000,000, I spend around $2,000 on brochures like this one, photography, videography, floor plan and 3D plan (Matterport). 

For every sale, whether it is a listing or a sale representing a buyer, my brokerage charges me a fee of around $350. 

Of course there are other costs just to get set up as an agent. A professional biography video (like this one) can cost up to $5,000 and to have your logo, branding and website designed can cost another $5,000. These costs can come up every 4 or 5 years to keep the marketing current. You will also have costs related to getting licensed. It will cost you around $1,000, assuming that you don't need to take a class and you are self taught. 

You will also need to buy / lease, insure, fuel and maintain a car. You see many real estate agents driving around in $100,000 cars. For myself I drive a Mini Cooper which is pretty economical.

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David Eby, the attorney general for British Columbia, is proposing that local housing permit approvals be taken out of the hands of local governments.

Although there are many potential pitfalls with this idea, it is clear that the current housing approval process is no longer working. Currently it can take over a year for the City of Vancouver to approve a permit for a single family home. Larger housing developments can take anywhere from 3 to 5 years. 

With 55,000 people estimated to move to Greater Vancouver in 2022 we are continuously in catch up mode and this year we will be short around 10,000 homes.  This is great for those that already own a home, as it's an investment guaranteed to go up, if this gap can't be closed. 

The time it takes to approve a residential project adds cost to the development. Remember that developers finance the purchase of land. With the cost of land also on the rise, this component of the project can easily amount to 40% of the overall project cost. Developers must “carry” the cost to finance the land. The longer the approval takes the more it costs the developer.  This carry cost is passed directly on to the end buyer of the home(s). Imagine holding millions of dollars worth of land for 3-5 years while you wait to start construction. To me it is ridiculous. 

During the waiting period, the developer is also required to hire consultants to conduct “studies” (many of which are completely unnecessary). It is during this time that many, many community public information meetings are held. On top of all this the developer must negotiate with the city for public amenity packages (another huge fee paid to the city). The city uses these funds (sometimes very inefficiently) to fund the construction of public amenities that could most likely be built much more cost efficiently in the private sector. This “public amenity package” is on top of the Development Cost Charges (DCC’s) that were already in effect to fund infrastructure projects. 

After all this time and effort (remember the developer has been waiting up to 5 years at this point), there is no way to appeal zoning decisions made by the city to any authority. The entire process can be very opaque with many unknown costs along the way.

Bottom line is, if we are going to continue to embrace immigration, which is inevitable, to our beautiful city, we need more housing and we need a more efficient and flexible approval and permitting process. We need different forms of housing - not just more condos. We need housing for families, other than the now almost untouchable detached home.

What do you think would solve our housing crisis?

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