Two major home-ownership events happened out of quarantine: first, businesses learned that their employees could work from home; and second, homeowners learned that their homes were not where they wanted to work! So, what does this mean for real estate buying habits moving forward? This week, Senior Vice President of Mosaic Homes, Geoff Duyker, joins Adam & Matt to unpack how one developer is pivoting in light of Covid-19. Tune in for a gripping conversation that might have you heading to the ‘burbs in search of a larger place to watch Netflix (we mean, work). You also won’t want to miss the Senior VP of Mosaic’s top picks for investment. Trust us, it’s one you likely haven’t considered!
Vancouver Real Estate News, Market Updates, Insider Tips, Stats, & Analysis
Who is Geoff Duyker?
Geoff is the Senior Vice President, Marketing at Mosaic Homes. He has been working at Mosaic for over 10 years and overseas everything related to marketing, sales and customers. His day job has him tackling questions like where Vancouverites want to buy homes and the types of homes they want to buy. This includes how to market new homes to customers and how the Company will take care of customers after they have decided to purchase a Mosaic home.
On the personal side, Geoff is an avid outdoors person. His family has also recently welcomed a new baby.
Mosaic Homes is a locally owned Vancouver home builder that has been active for 20 years. They started on the West Side of Vancouver building townhome communities. By 2008, they were building more townhomes than any other builder in British Columbia. They also build low rise apartment buildings and have recently started building larger concrete projects. They focus on quality and customer service with the mantra, ‘real homes for real people’.
How did you get into real estate?
Geoff’s father was a commercial real estate broker. After watching his father work, Geoff was convinced he did not want to pursue a real estate career given the long hours and uncertainty. He decided to attend University to pursue a medical degree. During a break in his schooling, he secured a job at a marketing firm working in the resort / 2nd home industry. This industry excited him, and he continued on this career trajectory, eventually getting the opportunity to work in residential real estate development.
Can you walk us through a day at your current role?
There are three main functions I perform in my current role. We are growing and we are always looking at buying land. This involves determining what can be built on the land that someone will buy and what will they pay for it. Once a project is under development, the focus turns to product design, looking at floor plans, optimizing and providing functionality. This includes an aspect of interior design. Finally, there is a significant part of the job that looks at customers and getting them to learn about and become interested in buying a Mosaic Home. This would involve a customer to ultimately move through a process that would lead to them purchasing one of Mosaic’s homes.
What does a real estate deal look like to Mosaic?
Mosaic has a talented land acquisition team that is knowledgeable about areas, zoning, and infrastructure developments in our growing city. Mosaic focuses on multifamily housing and this drives decisions, including if the area is large enough for the project, that people want to live there, and generally includes another “x” factor, like new transit or other infrastructure being developed. An example of an area that fits these parameters is Tsawwassen where the Company purchased land 8 years ago and is currently being 350 townhomes for the Seaside project. Tsawwassen was attractive because of a big new shopping mall being built there, there were distribution centres in the area, including Amazon, new transportation infrastructure, and we knew jobs would be coming to the area.
How has COVID-19 changed what the Company is interested in purchasing and developing for new homes?
At this point, everyone is still searching for the answers. Mosaic closed its offices in mid-March and everyone went to work from home. During this time, the Senior Management team was having 4 hour phone calls on a daily basis to discuss how to keep their workers safe and to strategize about the next steps for the Company, including where the opportunities may lie. Vancouver is still a great real estate market even though the economy is grappling with COVID-19. There is no doubt Vancouver will remain a great place to live and the Company remains committed to building in Metro Vancouver. Mosaic has also had a focus on great product and these attributes will differentiate their business in the new economic climate. In past years, there has been a frenzy for new real estate that has often not allowed potential buyers to take their time to perform due diligence on the home and the builder. In this current market, people have more time to make purchase decisions and Mosaic will be well positioned due to the high quality of construction, well designed homes and customer service that they provide.
Are different areas of Metro Vancouver looking more attractive to buyers due to COVID-19?
COVID-19 will absolutely change consumer behaviour in housing. What we are seeing today is that Mosaic is still selling homes in May and June. This pandemic has caused people to re-evaluate their home and they have realized their home is more important than ever. Mosaic has started to sell more homes in areas that are further from Vancouver to younger families. People have realized that the condo they were living in may not be working for them if they will be spending a lot more time in their home moving forward. We have started to see a real influx of end users upgrading their housing situation because of this new realization brought on by COVID-19. As we all know, people that need more housing space in Vancouver are being pushed further out due to affordability. We are starting to see people more interested in the Tri-Cities, Surrey and Delta. Working from home full-time or part-time will start to be a permanent shift for people in their professional lives. This suggests they will be happy with a longer commute to work, because they will be doing it less often. People can afford more home in these neighbourhoods, which may also allow for a home office space.
Are there any areas of Metro Vancouver that you are excited about?
We are very excited about Tsawwassen. Tsawwassen has great value and is much more affordable than Richmond or Burnaby and it is still much closer to Vancouver than other communities at similar prices. There are also these new amenities and jobs there , as we were discussing before, and it is a great community.
Is there a fundamental shift right now to ‘bedroom communities’ of Vancouver that are not as often tied to Skytrains?
Mosaic is very active in Port Moody, which is great because it is linked to the Skytrain. The reality is that there are still lots of people that the transit system doesn’t work for and the car is (fortunately or unfortunately) not dead yet. There are lots of homeowners that may have lived in a single-family home if they were raising their children 20 years ago but are now living in a town home community because it fits their budget and lifestyle. Many of these townhome communities are best accessed by car, so transit is not as important. That being said, transportation infrastructure to these areas is still very important as it will affect things like commute times and accessibility. An example of this would be an area like Burke Mountain, where there we improvements on the Mary Hill Bypass and connection to Hwy #1. These improvements helped people commuting to Vancouver cut 15mins of their total commuting time.
What advice would you give to a smart, driven millennial about to enter the real estate job market?
Mosaic has a mentoring program where we hire recent university graduates and they get an opportunity to be exposed to various aspects of our business and an opportunity to demonstrate they have great promise for the future. You have to have a good head on your shoulders, and you have to work hard. In some aspects, you also have to be in the right place at the right time.
For people looking to enter the job market and a career, think really critically about the fields you are interested in, but also the people in these fields. Who are they? What are their reputations? What are their motivations? Who will you learn from? What will you learn? The people you work with are often more important than the job you are going to do.
What new belief, behaviour or habit have you recently implemented that has had a positive affect on your life?
Historically, I haven’t separated my personal and professional life too much. Since I like the outdoors, I spend lots of time networking and interacting with colleagues when I am riding my bike, skiing, and other outdoor activities. This allows me to kill multiple birds with one stone by doing something that I enjoy doing and still interacting with people on a personal and professional level. It also provides a renewed focus and energy when I am back at the office.
What area of Metro Vancouver you would chose to invest in right now?
There are two neighbourhoods I would choose. Port Moody is undervalued right now. Homes sell cheaper than similar neighbourhoods in Coquitlam and Port Moody has some amazing natural attributes. It is located on the inland, it has access to mountains and forests and it has an incredible transit line with the Evergreen Line. It should cost more to live in Port Moody than it currently does. It also has the breweries.
A second neighbourhood is North Vancouver. It is really hard to get new homes deigned and approved in North Vancouver and there is a cap on supply. The cost of owning a home in North Vancouver is more affordable than Burnaby and North Vancouver has the natural attributes associated with the North Shore that people can take advantage of. This makes it a good area to buy.
Favourite neighbourhood in Vancouver: Kits Point
Favourite bar or restaurant: Nook on Yew
One book you would recommend that anyone read: What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell (or any of his other books)
One piece of advice you would give your 18-year-old self: Take more risks. Failures are not as tough to recover from when you are young.
Something you have purchased for under $1,000 that has changed your life: Aarke Sparking Water Maker to make sparkling water at home.
Find out more about Mosaic Homes.