We had the chance to speak with Hafez Panju of Royal LePage Coronation West and he shared with us some great tips on what to consider about the market when you’re purchasing your home as well as his thoughts on UniverCity.
Q: We can see from your blog that you closely follow news about the Vancouver housing market. What do you tell clients who watch the market and decide to delay purchasing a home?
Hafez Panju (HP): The real estate market in Vancouver has gone through many changes over the course of the past couple of years. Sales have trended downwards and prices have also decreased, however not in relation with the drop in sales. This demonstrates that Vancouver in some respects is a unique market. Some areas have remained stronger than others. According to the BC Real Estate Association, as of Jan 2013 prices were down approximately 5% to 7% since May of 2012. Economists and analysts have been suggesting a “soft landing” for prices in Vancouver. Looking at the numbers this soft landing has already somewhat taken place. Considering that prices have come down, interest rates are still very low and there is a fair bit of product on the market to choose from, now is actually an ideal time to buy. It is impossible for anyone to predict where the bottom is or when it might occur. Once the bottom of any market does happen it is already too late as we will only know it was the bottom once we are through it. By that time prices have already begun to rise.
I tell purchasers to look at their current financial situation, especially if they are renting, and consider the money that is being paid each month towards someone else’s mortgage. The sooner they start building their own equity the sooner they start paying themselves. In the long term, real estate will have its ups and downs, purchase a home that is affordable, take advantage of lower rates and do not over extend one’s self. This will ensure you can ride out the ups and downs in the market. In the longer term prices will always go up. Each peak is followed by a valley which is followed by a peak that is higher than the previous peak.
Q: On your website, you have a list of new condo developments at UniverCity. Which developments stand out and why?
HP: I currently do not have a favorite for the SFU, UniverCity area, I actually like them all for different reasons. Lift is a great development, offering something that is very unique to the area. It is a smaller project with some very special features – town house style homes, roof top decks, multiple and single level homes. Highland House is an excellent project from an investment perspective. It appeals to buyers looking to rent out their property and due to the proximity to campus, shopping and the bus loop it is advantageous for renters. I think it will make a solid long term investment addition to anyone’s portfolio. Altitude, what’s there not to like. To be able to boast that you live on the highest point in Vancouver is saying something in itself. The finishing and quality of appliances in Altitude really stand out for me.
Q: What do your clients love most about UniverCity? How is this community different from similar areas in Burnaby and Metro Vancouver?
HP: Convenience of being close to Downtown yet the sense that you are in a Whistler style area. All the outdoor recreation, walking and biking trails and the access to the SFU amenities are a few reasons that residents really love the area. SFU, UniverCity is such a lush, quiet environment yet still offers such amenities as Nester’s, various eating options, a great little pub and is still a growing community are some of the other benefits I feel that residents really enjoy. The addition of Highland Elementary School was a big bonus for the area. Even for people without children the fact that the Burnaby School District has an elementary school in the area speaks to the long term sustainability of UniverCity.
Q: What do you like most about working in real estate?
HP: There are many reasons that people take up real estate as a career. For me this is not a job, not a career but a business. So I take what I do for my clients very seriously. I build my business on repeat and referrals, so offering a high level of competent services is very important. The one thing that really is satisfying for me personally is handing a client keys to their new home. A home is such a big part of our lives and to know that I helped in making it happen is professionally & personally rewarding. Real estate is typically someone’s single largest asset. I take that very seriously and ensure that I am always looking out for my clients best interests.
Q: Any top tips you’d like to share with first-time homebuyers and investors?
HP: Take advantage of low rates and a decent amount of inventory on the market. Be mindful of your budget and do not over extend yourself. Purchase a property that fits your budget and life style and offers a little room for growth. If you are renting, start paying yourself sooner than later and start building your own equity. Equity is a very powerful tool if used correctly.