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episode # 307

A Master Class in Real Estate with Kingswood Properties’ Lorne Segal

Lorne Segal is known for developing some of the Pacific Northwest’s most iconic real estate. And, after listening to today’s episode, you will understand the philosophy, passion and discipline required for such a task. Lorne sits down with Matt & Adam to discuss a lifetime dedicated to honing his craft, from recognizing potential in overlooked areas to reimagining what a market needs. Whether you are new to real estate, in the mid-stage of your investment journey, or a seasoned vet, today’s episode will leave you inspired and searching for more. Time to level up.

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Episode Summary


 

Who is Lorne Segal? What is Lorne Segal’s approach to real estate? 

The four words that define most of what I’ve done are, “It can’t be done.” We then systematically think about how we can make it possible. When you take that approach, and bring in the right people who know what they’re doing, it’s interesting what becomes possible. Real estate is a complicated process of trying to do everything right. And when you do get that process right, you get a setting that is an oasis. 

When we first looked at building in Squamish, we were told we could build but there was no precedent for absorption. We didn’t know if people didn’t want to live there or if people just didn’t have the opportunity. But now we know that Squamish is the recreational capital of Canada. We’re spoiled for riches up there. Our development, Redbridge, truly is an oasis in Squamish. We realized we not only had to tell the story of Redbridge but we had to tell the story of Squamish. 

How do emotions impact real estate? 

In real estate, like in life, if you want to achieve something you have to think about the people. You have to open people’s hearts. When people are moved, that’s when they take action. 

We all have limits on how much we want to pay for something. If there’s a big gap between what we want to pay and what something costs, we have to justify why we should stretch the budget. That’s where the emotion and visceral reaction comes in. You need an emotional reason to stretch the budget and say, “That was the best money I ever spent.” 

Can you tell us about the amenities at Redbridge in Squamish?

At Redbridge, we have a project that incorporates the body, mind and soul in a beautiful, pristine environment. We have something called Base Camp, which is what we call our amenities centre. There’s yoga, co-working space, saunas, spas, gyms and much more. In our Eco Movement Lab™, the time you spend on a treadmill, for example, puts energy back into the grid. We’re being told it’s the first zero carbon gym in Canada or North America. 

Why are people moving to Squamish? 

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve all had to think about the next chapter of our lives. We want to make positive decisions about how we want to live. People are asking what their life is worth and what they want to do with the resources they have. Maybe this is the time for people to live where they like to play, if they can afford it. The way the workforce is changing and with more people having the flexibility, not everyone needs to be in the heart of Vancouver. And if they have to commute, there’s nowhere more beautiful to do it than on the Sea to Sky Highway. 

Is Squamish ready for growth?

There are some people who believe forestry is going to return to Squamish. There are growing pains and it takes time. We’ve worked with five councils and five mayors throughout the life of this project to ensure controlled growth. 

How did Lorne Segal get into real estate?

Real estate wasn’t always the forefront of my life. I was doing graduate work in England, studying law. During my studies, I used to walk the streets of Oxford and couldn’t help but be inspired. I found myself more inspired by architecture than by law. 

So I got into real estate and began working on the brokerage side. But I found myself wanting to create a building and get into development. I had this burning vision which eventually became The Kingswood

How did you come up with the design for The Kingswood?

I read a book by Prince Charles, A Vision of Britain, about traditional architecture and that really inspired The Kingswood. We actually wrote a book about the creation of The Kingswood because it was so complicated. It was my dream to get a copy of our book to Prince Charles. So five years later, he came to town and I got an invitation to meet him. I got to tell him how inspired I was by his book and how The Kingswood followed his principles. He was so surprised that I had read his book and asked me to send a copy of our book about The Kingswood. 

Six months later, I received an invitation from Prince Charles to come to dinner at Buckingham Palace. My wife and I were flabbergasted! So we went to dinner and I received a handwritten note from Prince Charles about his appreciation for The Kingswood and the building principles he holds dear. We had a wonderful dinner and got to speak more about those things. This whole experience went above and beyond anything I had imagined. It just shows that if you are true to yourself and follow through on your dreams, extraordinary things can happen.     

What is Lorne Segal’s philosophy of business?

When it comes to happiness in life, I’ve learned that it’s not about a checklist but progress. Any step forward can lead to joy. The Kingswood was the most complicated development one could possibly do. Everyone said it couldn’t be done but we figured it out. The stuff that is easy in life doesn’t make us grow. 

I’m trying to add value to people’s lives. That’s what anyone in business is trying to do. You have to give to get. Instead of looking at what you can get from someone, ask yourself what you can give. 

How did you deal with risk mitigation for The Kingswood?

I did not have all of the answers when we started working on The Kingswood. But I believed in what we were doing. You have to decide how you want to define your life. It takes courage to be a pioneer in the field. For the most part, what you put in is what you get out. So you have to take some risks. At some point, the pain of procrastination outweighs the joy and you have to take action. 

What is Lorne Segal’s approach to business?

My approach to business is similar to a chess game. You can strive to be a decent player and look one move ahead or you can try to be a grandmaster and think seven or eight moves ahead. But the process is about anticipation. I spend a lot of time thinking, “If this, then what?” That way of anticipatory thinking can help you distinguish yourself from others. 

What is the future of downtown Vancouver?

The last few years have been difficult for downtown Vancouver and there hasn’t been much happening at the high end of the market. The 1515 Alberni property that we’re doing with Bosa Properties is the modern day Kingswood. We’re investing a lot of time and energy to create something special. You can’t do a building like that every year or even every few years. It takes courage of conviction.

We’ve launched 1515 and it’s been a great success. We’re well ahead of schedule and are happy with the progress. It’s a very unique building; you don’t have to appeal to everyone with everything. Our architect is reinterpreting what it means to be a skyscraper by creating horizontal living.

If you do the same old thing in a challenging market during uncertain times, you can expect a mediocre response. But if you do something unique that appeals to a particular market that can afford it, that’s a different story. 

You can’t have a building like 1515 Alberni and not think downtown Vancouver is going to prosper. There’s a big world out there that is looking at Canada. We have a safe and beautiful city, so all the ingredients are there for Vancouver to prosper. Covid has been a setback, like it has been anywhere, but downtown Vancouver will always have a prominent place in the world. The value Vancouver holds as a place not just to make a living, but to make a life, makes Vancouver the place to be. 

Find out more: https://kingswoodproperties.com/

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