Engel & Völkers Advisor Sam Juergens moved to Vancouver’s Point Grey neighborhood on the Westside in 1989, as he got involved with his community, he quickly called it home. Since becoming a licensed Realtor, Sam has been able to negotiate several record high deals for his clients, and always goes above and beyond for his clients.
For Sam, there is nothing better than helping someone achieve their goals in real estate. Below, Sam shares what makes Vancouver’s West Side such a great place to live, and his market predictions for the new season.
How did you first get into Real Estate?
My love of real estate began with my dad. We immigrated here from Germany and moved to the West Side of Vancouver. Back then, the business looked very different. At that time, the pre-internet era, looking for homes involved walking door-to-door, looking for signs, and calling the number! Things have changed since then.
I’ve always had a love for Real Estate. I completed Pre-Med and LSATs initially, thinking I would go into medicine or law, but never pursued them further as my passion lacked. Ironically, I applied to BCIT for Real Estate Management straight out of high school and eventually found my way back to the industry 20 years later, seemingly where I wanted to be all along! I started my career by doing renovation flips of my own homes.
I would do a flip, make a positive return, and do it again. I thought, heck, I have a knack for this, so I kept doing it. Eventually, I was supporting myself more through these flips than my regular job. Friends and family quickly caught on and suggested I should make it my primary profession. So I got licensed and went into Real Estate full time. Engel and Völkers is a fantastic brand to be a part of. There’s a sleekness and premium quality to it that I love.
That, and E&V started in Germany, I started life in Germany, so it seemed a natural fit! I came into the office after doing some research on brokerages, spoke to some peeps, and they all had such wonderful things to say. The energy of E&V felt right. The company transcends borders and that was very important to me.
What do you enjoy most about working in Real Estate?
There are many things I love about this industry. Firstly, it’s incredibly dynamic. You’re dealing with all sorts of people daily, from market experts, clients, other advisors, and home stagers, photographers, and designers. You’re constantly learning something new, whether it’s changes in the market, neighborhood trends, proper construction, or something as cool as the latest staging trends.
I also love the flexibility. I technically work all day every day, from the moment I wake up, but I have the option to pick up my son in the afternoon or go to the gym. You have pockets in the day where you can do what you enjoy, and even though business and work is an ongoing, daily thing, the flexibility makes it a constantly changing daily experience.
There are challenges to this profession, by no means is it balloons and flowers all the time. We can get into Real Estate shortcomings another time, but primarily what keeps me coming back is seeing the joy and satisfaction on my client’s face when I’ve helped them finally land a home they’ve been wishing for, or helped them sell a home so they can start a new chapter of their life. For example, most recently, I assisted a young professional couple to upsize from a 600 square feet one bedroom into a 1600 square feet townhouse with ample room for their dogs, cats, and baby on the way. Yeah… talk about needing a larger place. The joy and almost disbelief of how smooth the transition went was priceless on their faces. It gives me goosebumps to know I’m doing work of value.
Tell us about the Westside!
The first great thing about the Westside is its proximity to the water. Studies show that when you’re close to the water, you’re healthier, and the Westside has plenty of water nearby. Spanish Banks, Jericho, Kitsilano are all a stone’s throw apart from each other. It’s also incredibly safe, amenity-driven, and central to everything. A fine balance between super chill but also urban driven; You can strut down to the beach, grab yourself a spot against a log and read your favourite novel, or hop on the bridge to downtown for some metropolitan stuff. And if neither interest you, maybe a kayak!? Homes do cost more than other neighborhoods here simply because of demand, but it’s a beautiful gem in our city.
What are your Market Predictions going into the new season, near future, and more specifically what market trends or changes are you noticing for the Westside?
You cannot diagnose Greater Vancouver with a broad brush. Generalized stats or media reports are often misleading and frankly confusing to the public. Even Realtors seem baffled at times and scramble to make sense of things. When comparing different communities, there seems to be a lack of consistency across the board. When comparing stats among different types of properties, ie: houses versus townhouses versus condos, there seems to be a lack of congruency. Even home prices, sales numbers, and house price index indicators of today versus 6 months ago versus 1 year ago are inconsistent. Just because you purchased a property in 2017, does not mean you can sell for more today. Sort of unusual for Vancouver, as historically, even after 2 years, market value increased. So what’s going on?!
Ok, let me try to shed some light on our “current” market. Quick disclaimer, these are my opinions and I acknowledge and respect others who may disagree. Also, I am generalizing and I’m fully aware exceptions exist. Just because I state “at the current moment in time” houses on the westside are unaffordable does not mean some can’t afford it. Some do, but they don’t account for the average family with an annual salary of $100K at best. My opinions are primarily based on my experiences working full time with buyers and sellers as a professional Realestate Agent for close to a decade.
The start of 2018 introduced numerous changes to home purchase & ownership, both through government and financing. This had a slowdown effect on the Vancouver Realestate market. In some cases, a reverse effect. It also slowed, dare I say, maybe even halted, foreign interest. Yet, our “current market” is such that affordable Homes (with no major deficiencies) in desirable communities, are still in high demand. That never went away. Buyers simply hoped for the so-called: market downturn speculated by the media, therefore stood by and observed. But the market downturn never came, and desirable homes kept quickly selling, often overnight and in multiple offer scenarios. On the other end of the spectrum however, homes that have surpassed “local” affordability, are hurting in our current market.
Often they sit on the market much too long and have to price drop. Sadly, these properties include many westside houses. Just last year, I attended a bankruptcy sale of a Westside house near the beach. Before going to court, the sellers had tried to sell the house for approximately $3 million, then price reduced multiple times eventually landing around $2 million and still no sale. In court, the winning bid was about $1.97 million outbidding two other lower offers. The bank had a hard time cracking the two million barrier. And frankly, none of the offer terms were that great. Some were asking for 4 months closing, others wanted subject conditions (unheard off for court-ordered sales). I was shocked at how uneventful and unenthusiastic everyone was. And I’m not talking about poker faces, the buyers genuinely seemed unsure and hesitant to submit their bids. Prior to 2018, I’d be willing to bet that the same house would have sold for more than $3 million. The fact is that the average Vancouver household cannot afford these homes. So what does the future hold for these houses? Most likely higher density rezoning. Single-family houses will inevitably be converted into multi-family homes. For example, a single-family house assessed at $3 million gets converted into a Triplex at $1.3 Million per unit. Space is compromised and will require an adjustment for those who grew up in single-family homes, with a front and back yard however higher density will allow buyers the ability to purchase a home on the westside. And the increased tax revenue isn’t too bad for the city either.
What are your three go-to places in the West Side for food, sightsee, or to walk your dog?
East is East: It’s on Broadway, where the old Calhoun’s used to be. Interesting story, when I was in university, my friends and I used to study there. Back then, it was a 24-hour-cafe. The owners decided we were taking up too many of the seats and weren’t purchasing anything being a broke student, so they used to blast the music after 11 pm so we would leave! East is East serves a middle eastern high-quality cuisine, it’s great but for some of the dishes, you’ve got to be able to tolerate spicy foods. Another fantastic spot, arguably a landmark of the westside culture, is The Naam. The Naam is probably the oldest Vegetarian and Vegan restaurant in the Westside, and it’s super popular. Keep Aphrodite on 4th in mind also. Their pies among many other dishes are to die for.
Sightseeing: Definitely Spanish Banks for a serene walk, 4th Ave for shops, and Granville Island for that market & artisan feel. Should you like to get away from it all, take a walk through Pacific Spirit Park near UBC.
Walking Your Dog: Pacific Spirit Park has some off-leash trails. And for beach & sand adventures, Spanish Banks Dog Beach is great & slightly more low-key than Kits Dog Beach. However, keep your eye on your dog, or more specifically actively observe other dogs. I’ve been witness to many noncompliant pups and owners.