Condo developers offer free wine, avocado toast to woo buyers in slowing B.C. market

A slowdown in home sales has developers getting creative

It wasn’t that long ago that prospective homebuyers in Vancouver would line up for hours to get into condo presale events or face off in heated bidding wars for a chance to buy property in one of the country’s hottest housing markets.

The heady days are gone, and buyers now have more control in the market, a shift that has some developers resorting to creative gimmicks like a year’s supply of avocado toast in an effort to appeal to buyers.

“It’s a slower, more competitive market,” said Brad Jones, vice president of development at Wesgroup Properties, a Vancouver-based real estate development company.

Prior to the August 2016 implementation of the foreign buyers’ tax in Vancouver, condominiums in Metro Vancouver were firmly in seller’s market territory, defined by a sales-to-active-listings ratio of more than 20 per cent for several months in a row, according to data from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

But even condos proved unable to remain impervious to multiple government intervention measures. The ratio dropped from peaks of over 80 per cent to below 22 per cent in September 2018, where it’s stayed since. If it dips below 12 per cent for several months, it becomes a buyer’s market and prices tend to come down.

As the market slowed, condos began to take longer to sell, hitting 40 days or more on average between December 2018 and February 2019 — the highest since the board started releasing the figure in its monthly market report in September 2016.

“The onus is on us to show we have the most attractive offering,” said Jones of the new reality.

Condos at one Wesgroup’s newest developments, Mode in Vancouver’s southern Killarney neighbourhood, come with a promise of a free glass of wine a day for a year. That incentive comes as a $1,500 gift card to a neighbourhood wine and alcohol store, which equates to about $29 a week to spend on a bottle of wine.

The incentive generated a “massive amount of interest,” he said, adding traffic and website clicks picked up after it released the buzzy offer.

“Now is the time to be creative,” he said.

ALSO READ: Be careful when buying recreational property before a city home, say experts

It was a response to another developer’s pitch to buyers — free avocado toast for a year — that garnered a media frenzy earlier this year.

Woodbridge Homes Ltd. announced it would offer anyone who purchases a unit in its West Coquitlam development, Kira, a year’s supply of avocado toast — for a limited time. That incentive amounts to a $500 gift card to a local eatery.

The announcement went viral and the company has sold 60 per cent of the initial offering already, said Ryan Lalonde, president of MLA Canada, which provides real estate sales and project marketing services to developers, including Woodbridge.

In the first three weeks of sales, Lalonde said nearly 85 per cent of purchasers referenced the sandwich campaign and four buyers became aware of the building solely because of the media coverage of the toast offering.

“We wanted to find a way to cut through that noise (in the marketplace),” he said, adding the company was surprised by the scope of media attention it generated.

Some may scoff at a $500 or $1,500 gift card to spend on non-essentials when prices remain unattainable for many buyers. The benchmark price of a condo in Metro Vancouver in May was $664,200, according to the local real estate board.

But both developers paired their consumable incentives with limited-time financial ones.

Kira purchasers can put down a 10 per cent deposit, as opposed to the more traditional 15 per cent or more. That will help Kira’s target demographic of 25 to 40 year olds whether they are looking to break into the housing market, purchase a larger unit for a growing family or downsize, said Lalonde.

Those buying a unit at Mode can save $10,000 to $20,000 off their purchase price depending on the number of bedrooms in the condo.

“In combination, it’s a pretty compelling offer,” Jones said.

And while the marketing plans seem to have worked this time, Jones acknowledges the risk in continuing such incentives as potential buyers could tire of perceived gimmicks.

“If it was an every week thing, it may become stale, for sure.”

ALSO READ: Craigslist poster has the starter home for you

Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

NDP bring Green New Deal to the Kootenays

MPs Wayne Stetski and Peter Julian held climate change talks in Nelson, Cranbrook and Revelstoke

Elk River reclaims property as its own

Laws make it harder to protect private land than ever before says farmer, local government

Smoke-free summer a boon for West Kootenay tourism

Tourism centres seeing numbers up

LETTER: Nelson far from bike-friendly

From reader Nancy Rosenblum

LETTER: Make pot illegal again

From reader Rod Retzlaff

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town hit by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

B.C. music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

B.C. family stranded in Croatia desperate to come home

Funds being raised to bring back mom and two children

B.C. man on trial for daughters’ murders an intruder broke in

Andrew Berry takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

‘Plenty of time for a deal’: Teachers’ union expects kids back in school on Sept. 3

BCTF says class size, composition at the heart of the issue

Most Read