The Calgary real estate market has been through much turmoil throughout 2016, as the city’s economy is affected by low oil prices. We’ve reached out to Peter Ng, expert agent and associate broker, who has watched Calgary develop both as an agent, and as a lifetime resident. His key to staying on top of the competitive market? Build a mature client base. Read on to find out how.
Tell us a few words about the KORE Real Estate Team and the role you play in leading it.
CIR Realty | KORE Real Estate Team is a leading residential and commercial real estate team serving Calgary and surrounding areas. Our team of REALTORS® represent a wide range of clients from first time home buyers to investors in re-sale properties, condominium pre-sales, and new home sales.
As a dynamic and innovative team, our mission is to deliver solid results to our clients by providing unparalleled customer service and leveraging the latest technologies. The “client first” philosophy has always been our approach and technology has allowed us to do everything we’ve always done – only with much more precision and effectiveness.
Having won numerous awards and top producer standings, we continually strive to improve our skills and ways of doing business. Whether you’re looking to buy or sell a home, our team is dedicated to helping you navigate the real estate market and achieve your goals.
My role in leading the real estate team is as the team leader. I spend the majority of my time mentoring and training new team members and with marketing strategy and business leadership.
What do you love most about your job?
Here are five reasons why I feel I have a dream job:
1. Freedom – As we are self-employed, whatever efforts we put into our business creates value for me in the long term. Being your own boss also allows me to pursue the goals that I want and puts me in the driver seat of where I can to go in life and the only limitation to where I want to go is how hard I am willing to work.
2. Financially Rewarding – I became a REALTOR® in January of 2005, perfect timing to catch the real estate boom. I found that I enjoyed what I did and was good at it and I was very fortunate the timing was right.
3. Flexibility to set our own schedules, pursue personal goals, and take vacations especially when setup as a real estate team which allows team member’s to support each other and for the business to run itself even if I am away from the office.
4. Challenging – Every day I am presented with a different challenge and each day I deal with different people with different requirements. This keeps my job interesting and dynamic.
Like any job, there can be administrative work that can be heavy at times, but you would rarely find yourself sitting down for an 8-hour workday working only on paperwork.
Being in a team allows us to specialize our skills and tasks, which involves nowadays mostly training team members, client consultations, and showing clients homes.
Without a doubt, real estate is competitive, but if you thrive on competition, this is truly a place you feel right at home.
5. Personally Rewarding – Every day I wake up to go to work, I get to work with clients, sometimes even my own family and friends, whether it is answering any real estate questions they may have, or helping them find their dream home. The experience is very personal and I sometimes work closely with clients over several years to find them the right home, with many clients becoming my very good friends.
Many of my clients have been with me since I first got into real estate, almost 9 years ago, which is why one of the most rewarding parts of my job is to see them happy with my service and their home, or to get invited to their house warming parties or BBQs. And to this very day, the highest compliment I can receive from my clients is when they refer a family, friend, or a co-worker to me.
If you think about your first years in the industry, what were the biggest challenges that you have faced and how did you manage to overcome them? Tell us some agent must-haves.
The first few years in the industry presented many challenges to me as an individual agent without any mentoring from an experienced REALTOR®. I was faced with a huge learning curve and had to figure it out quickly, while on the job already, in many cases.
This brought a lot of extra stress to me but it also forced me to adapt and learn quickly. It taught me to be prepared for each and every day, and each and every scenario. Preparation, asking lots of questions, and not giving up was what helped me the most in the first few years.
What would you do differently if you were at the beginning of your career right now?
That’s a great question! When I became a REALTOR®, the concept of a real estate team existed but still was not mainstream at that point. If I could turn back time, I think I might have joined a team so that I could have learned and had support from experienced REALTORS®, rather than having to learn everything on my own.
What is the main challenge for the real estate industry at this time? What’s your key to staying on top of the competitive market?
The main challenge to the real estate industry right now is the general economy in Alberta. In the next few years until oil and gas prices recover, it will be a test of survival of the fittest for many REALTORS®.
The ones that can ride out the recession will come out even stronger, and capturing an even larger market share. For newer REALTORS® with a less established and mature client base, the approach to survival is to work even harder to sustain their businesses until better times.
Have you spotted any interesting market trends recently in Calgary?
There have been many interesting market trends in Calgary recently, but one particularly worth mentioning would be the urban densification of the city. In the last 5 years, there has definitely been more momentum than previously in the construction of high rise condos in the downtown of Calgary.
I believe this trend will continue, despite it being slowed down currently due to the recession. The desire to live downtown for both convenience and lifestyle will continue to grow as our city matures, and because of urban sprawl.
How was Calgary’s residential real estate market in 2016 compared to 2015?
The year of 2016 was a challenging year in sales activity, absorption rates, and price declines alike. It is interesting to note that not all communities are affected equally, as some established subdivisions have been left virtually unaffected by the recession, both in prices and days on markets.
The inner city and downtown have suffered the most in terms of price decreases, particularly in the luxury and condo market. There have been price declines on average of 8-10% in these markets in the last 12 months.
Is there a specific feature that could describe the profile of the Calgary home buyer?
Currently, the buyers that are still buying are either real estate investors, or buyers who are out looking for deals or value.
Have you spotted any trends in the Millennials’ attitudes towards home ownership?
The main trend with millennials is the trend to purchase condos, whether apartments or town homes, to reduce the amount of home maintenance work required. Most millennials are looking for less square footage, less or no backyard, and a lifestyle where they sacrifice space for time and convenience.
This desire for convenience and lifestyle is the same driving force pushing people to buy condos in inner city and downtown Calgary.
Did you notice any preference for the green-certified properties over the last year?
No, this is a trend in other cities like Vancouver and Toronto. I have not seen this trend become very popular in Calgary as of yet. It is an added value to a property, but, in my humble opinion, it is not a deal breaker for most buyers, especially if it is at a cost premium to the buyer.
Have you noticed a rising interest from foreign investors in the Calgary properties?
We are specialist and industry leaders in the foreign-buyers niche, and my opinion is there is added interest, but nothing overwhelming. Our city differs very much from Vancouver and Toronto, where foreign buyers actively seek out those markets to invest in. Calgary lacks the same degree of awareness, and our city and province have done very little to promote Calgary real estate to foreign investors.
This responsibility will rest in the hands of the private sector and with time and proper marketing, this market will hopefully grow and mature like the other cities.
In the first quarter of 2016, Calgary commercial real estate vacancies hit an historic high of 20%, according to CBRE Canada. Why do you think this happened and what do you think the situation will be by the end of the year?
The reason is quite simple, with low oil and gas prices and massive layoffs from every company, there is now a massive surplus of office space available. There are also zero dollar subleases available, where companies have office space under contract, and now have no use for the space. They are willing to rent the space out to other companies, as long as the company pays the operating costs, just to mitigate a portion of the costs of the lease.
Where do you think the prices of Calgary properties are headed by the end of 2016?
The honest answer is no one knows with real estate. The general direction of the market is that is has now leveled off, with some even believing that the market has bottomed out. I would say prices should stay relatively stable for at least the next 3 to 6 months, unless something dramatic was to occur to the price of crude oil, or there were to be further massive layoffs.
The geopolitical environment is another variable to keep a close eye on. My thoughts are that crude prices will just stay stagnant.
Check out more predictions on the Calgary market in particular, and Canadian real estate in general, in these expert interviews:
Expert Interview: The Unparalleled Power of Perspective
Real Estate Industry Predictions for 2017
Calgary Real Estate Trends