Bob Rennie, Vancouver condo marketer, on the ‘Bill Good Show’, CKNW 980AM, Vancouver Radio, 9am Friday 16 Mar 2012 [hat-tip Keith] -
Bill Good: ‘Marine Gateway’ is the first major development along the Vancouver portion of the Canada line. And 11,000 people have registered to buy one of the 414 condos that will be up for sale this weekend. It hasn’t been since ‘Woodwards’ in 2006 that a condo project has created this level of early interest. Bob Rennie, of Rennie Marketing Systems is with me in the studio. This seems.. hard to believe..
Bob Rennie: Yeah, it’s hard to believe what we go through in Vancouver, compared to almost any other jurisdiction in North America, other than Toronto.
Good: So, 11,000 people?
Rennie: 11,000.. but you have to look, at a certain level, that in Vancouver, real estate is a sport, everybody wants to know what’s new, so half those people are interested in what’s the latest and greatest steel refrigerator, and going to see new lay-outs, and then you’ve got a core group of real buyers that are lined up there right now,
Good: And there’s a line-up as we speak?
Rennie: There’s a line-up, of 60 to 100 people.. you know… everybody wants the best and the cheapest on any project, so that’s just sort of an expectation in today’s market… everybody wants the top with the views, and everybody wants the cheapest for their daughter.
Rennie: … and that’s where you get that initial interest from.. We’ve been open now for a couple of months, and everybody has been coming down and previewing, and they understand what floor plan they want, they understand what view they want, they understand they’ll live with or without parking, because .. the whole thing that…
Good: Where exactly is this?
Rennie: Right at the SE corner of Marine and Cambie, and it’s right on the Canada-Line… so you’re not going across the street, you’re just coming down and walking out… but it’s retail, and it’s office, and it’s residential, so it’s a new emerging community..
Good: What’s the price range?
Rennie: There’s two hundred homes under three ninety-nine… so, that’s the attraction, is that affordability
Good: So, under 400 thousand, and you can get on a sky-train and be downtown in 15 to 20 minutes.
Rennie: Yes, downtown.. and.. what is your producers name?, I’m sorry, I forget…
Rennie: I was just telling Jessica, that if you look at the difference between Jessica, and Bob, 55, that at 55 we’re looking at do we let go of one car in the household… we understand the cost of insurance, and running a car, and depreciation, and payments… Whereas Jessica, and Jessica doesn’t have a car…
Good: No, she’s ahead of you… she gave up her car and walks to work..
Rennie: Jessica, and Jessica doesn’t need to drive to the local drive-in to find out what’s happening tonight, she has an iPhone, and that difference in communication, that difference in that generation, that they’re not addicted to the car the way the baby-boomer generation is.. So, as I’m telling developers, we can build without parking,.. they’re going ‘No, nobody’s going to buy without parking’.. but we’re here, so, juts over 100 units there without parking. We did the ‘Capital Residences’, downtown, the old ‘Capital Theatre’ site, with 102 units without parking… Peter Wall did the ‘Scotia Bank Centre’.. we did about 115 units there without parking. Jessica and her younger friends have no desire to own a car… not just because of the overhead but they don’t need it for lifestyle.
Good: They also know that they can get a car share program, or can rent a car for a weekend, and they seem to be satisfied with that..
Rennie: ..and the zipcars and the modo cars, they work in the city where there’s a concentration of cars to pick up… when you get into the suburbs and you say we’ll have one car for 300 condominiums, it doesn’t really work, because you don’t have a concentration… that’ll all change. But my thing is… the Mayor is looking at affordability.. you know, Telus has announced it’s building an office building… I think it’s phenomenal for the city.. but that’s going to be filled with employees that don’t want to drive an hour and a half home… so we start really having to look at these emerging neighbourhoods…
Good: So, you’re seeing a real transformation..
Rennie: Absolutely.. I think this year we’ll bring out 1800 to 2000 homes transportation oriented.. so Marine Gateway, and then we’re doing at Boundary we’re doing 3 towers later in the Fall, and then we’re just going to start previewing in Richmond, ‘The Mandarin’, which is the very first Canada-Line station. Not only that, you’ve got a million square feet of shopping and restaurants. Somebody told me, if you’re going to buy in New York, find an area that’s the least inconvenient to your lifestyle, not the most convenient, but the least inconvenient… so the fact that you’ve got restaurant shopping, dry-cleaners, not just a telephone store, but real usage downstairs.. and the transportation is the big win.
Good: Well, you talked about the cost of the car, the cost of insurance, the cost of gasoline,.. but another huge factor, downtown, is the cost of parking…
Rennie: The cost of parking but the inconvenience now of being in a car driving down Hornby, or driving down Granville, where do I turn right or where do I turn left?.. and if you hit the wrong time, you’re in your car for 20 minutes, as opposed to being on the Canada line, on your laptop, on your iPhone, and just walking 5 minutes. So, this under 35 and over 45, there’s sort of purgatory inbetween there… the different ways that we look at the vehicle..
… [commercial break] …
Good: You think you’ll come close to selling out the 400+ condos, in a weekend?
Rennie: I would think, with the level of activity, and people lining up, that we will sell 90% of it on Saturday…
Good: You just told me you gave up your big fancy car, for a Prius… Are you trying to move into a generation below you?
Rennie: I’m trying to understand.. when I turned 50, I wanted a fancy car, I’ve always promised myself I would, I still get up 4:30 and work seven days a week.. but, after 2008, I was self-conscious of a fancy car, and was only driving it once a month, I thought, let’s let it go… and, my son didn’t think I’d last with it, but they got me a Prius, and I love it
Good: And you actually drive yourself?..
Rennie: I drive myself, yes (laughs)
Good: Because the last time I saw you you were getting into a great big black Mercedes, with a driver…
Rennie: The company has a Mercedes hybrid, that my assistant, Sylvia, stays with me 7 to 7, ‘cos all my business is running from boardroom to boardroom, from developer to developer in the downtown, and, when you look at driving and you look at parking, it’s just.. I like my assistant with me… so she stays until 7 o’clock and then, after that, I’ve got my Prius, I love it..
Good: But I thought it was interesting, you’re talking about a generation, and Jessica is among that generation, she gave up her car, a year ago, she walks to work… and you’re talking about people buying on the Canada line and using the transit system and being reliant on that.. and they don’t really need a car except on occassion…
Rennie: We’re building all our new developments on affordability – Jessica -, and then, the baby boomer – Bill and Bob – and, you know, this baby-boomer generation, which is 47 to 66 years old, they don’t have as much money to play with as they thought they had, they’re not taking the risks that they used to take..
Rennie: And, for Jessica, they have this 500sqft 1 BR with no parking on transportation, 3/4 of the building still has parking, because we can’t shift culture that fast…
Good: The baby-boomer, I suspect, is thinking of driving less.. perhaps having one car instead of two..
Rennie: They’re driving the Prius; they’re driving a hybrid, because it’s socially acceptable… you don’t have to say “I don’t want to spend $150,000 on a car, I only want to spend $32,000 on a car”, and it’s socially acceptable to be green.. and if you look at the shift with the baby-boomer, they’re protecting the money that’s left.. you know I can throw the Olympic Village into here, we’re just launching Canada House, the Arthur Erickson inspired.. on the water.. it’s 40 homes, they’re a million dollars plus, but, the homes that are selling for one point five to three point four million are ‘buy-downs’… it’s people who are selling their West-side home that foreign money happens to be buying, it’s not for the local market anymore, and then that money is being repatriated to a ‘buy-down’ in a place like the Olympic Village. Ten years ago, the West-side buyer thought “it goes Granville to Province of Alberta”, there was nothing in-between.. and now, that baby-boomer, everybody’s thought pattern has shifted.. the Olympic Village is an emerging neighbourhood, Canada Line is an emerging neighbourhood, Woodwards is an emerging very conscious mixed-use diversified community, but it’s emerging…
Good: Now, the whole Olympic Village, that was such a controversy a couple of years ago.. it has really emerged, I saw the story the other night… 65% sold now…
Rennie: We relaunched it with the receiver, February 17th of eleven, and we invented this name ‘ghost-town’.. we went out to the media and we said “it’s a ghost-town, let’s be really transparent”.. there was a perception about the Village that it was failing.. and so we thought that if we put the ‘ghost-town’ on it.. Now, I’ve always though that, that community being on the sea-wall would stabilize and it’d be okay.. and there was 472 of the 737 condominiums sold.. you go down there it’s hustling-bustling.. Terra Breads has opened, you can’t get a seat in it.. Urban Fare we expect to open before the summer.. London Drugs is coming… the community is being built out.. so now that the asset is stabilized we recommended to the receiver that we can now bring on the front building, which is two small buildings, one with 40 units, one with 20…
Good: This is the high end.
Rennie: This is the high end… front-row seats right on the sea-wall.. starting tomorrow, Saturday, for two weeks it’s open to the public, after that it’s by appointment… You know, this one million to seven million dollar inventory really isn’t an open-house inventory.. but there’s a lot of real estate sport condo watchers and Olympic Village condo watchers, and where did Sidney Crosby speak condo watchers.. sleep.. condo watchers that’s where our Olympic team stayed was in Canada (House)..
Good: So where is the market for that.. is that a local market.. off-shore market, or both..
Rennie: it… we can tongue-in-cheek say it’s not.. it’s not off-shore… it is a local market..
Good: People downsizing?
Rennie: People downsizing.. they’re selling their West-side homes and they’re repatriating that money.. which is breathtaking (laughs).. to other jurisdictions, such as the Olympic Village. And, the Olympic Village, I needed 2.5 to 3 years to sell it, stabilize it, and earn the brand back.. when we bring on a Marine gateway, you go down, you put 10% down, and within a year you’ll have a 25% deposit and 33 months from now you’ll pay for it. So Bill and Georgie can figure out do we need it to live in?, do we put the kids in it?, are we going to spend more and more time on the coast?, do we just keep it as a passive investment?
Good: He’s trying to sell me!
Rennie: ..but I can’t get you ahead of the line!.. But you’ve got that 33 months to figure it out… But if you buy at the Olympic Village, within 60 days I want all your money. So you have to have been selling your home or selling your home (sic). Stats, if you’d like them, Bill, is that 69% of all homes sold in Greater Vancouver, are to people that already own a home. The other 31% are to first time buyers.
Good: So there’s still a first time buyer market?
Rennie: There’s still a..
Good: There has to be.. doesn’t there?
Rennie: But I think the deception, after my recent address, putting the numbers together.. I think the part we have to understand, is that this first time buyer, when we say we’re the most expensive place to live, is based on incomes, but the 69% of buyers already own a home, it’s an equity play, they’re just trading baseball cards.. But the 31%, I’m trying to understand.. so, I’m putting the figures together.. of the over 55 year population that owns their homes clear title, and that 55 to 74 year old, when they’re selling their home, they’re helping the kids and the grand-children… they’ve… (my stats guys) and I were joking the other day that we’re gonna make t-shirts that say “My grandparents bought a home in 1978, and alls I got was a lousy one bedroom condominium”… because that money is being repatriated down to help the kids..
Good: OK, we’re almost out of time..
Transcribed here, for the record. -ed.