As It Happens

$3.9M burnt-down house in Vancouver won't take long to sell, agent says

Real estate agent Hunt Tse describes the burnt-down Vancouver house as a "pile of rubbish," but expects will sell for close to the asking price of $3.99 million.

'The thing is location, location, location,' Hunt Tse says

The property in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood is being sold as is for nearly $4 million. (Promerita Realty Corp.)

Vancouver real estate agent Hunt Tse is not worried that the $3.9-million lot with a burnt-down home on it will sell, even though he describes it as a "pile of rubbish."

"I don't think it would take that long because it's a good location," Tse told CBC Radio's As It Happens guest host Helen Mann, about the lot in Vancouver's popular Kitsilano neighbourhood.

Most of the home is collapsed from a long ago fire and the 6,000-square-foot lot is overgrown with grass.

Nevertheless, the house is listed for $3,990,000.

Tse said that the property is under foreclosure and has been seized by the bank, and nothing has been done to remove the rubble. That will be left for future owners to negotiate.  

"I cannot tell exactly if it will be cleaned up. It's not up to me," he said.  

'Location, location, location'

The Vancouver housing market has cooled off, but sky-high prices are still the norm.

July saw the lowest number of home sales in Metro Vancouver in 18 years, and the benchmark price for a detached home was $1.59 million, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. This is down 1.5 per cent from a year earlier.

Tse said what's appealing about this lot is its zoning, which would allow the new owners to build their "dream home," or for an investor to build a 4,500-square-foot building and divide it into four townhouse units.

He even predicts that an investor could sit on the property for a year for an even larger profit and people will still pay for it.

"The thing is location, location, location," he said. "If people want to live in town, then you have to pay for it."

It's also the size of the lot, which Tse said in Vancouver is considered "huge."

Hunt Tse, the real estate agent who is selling the burnt-down home in Vancouver, expects it will be sold within a month. (Submitted by Promerita Realty Corp.)

For Tse, it doesn't matter who buys the lot, as long as they have the money — and he said that tends to be foreign buyers.

"You're not talking about the local people. You are talking about the foreign people who have some money. And those guys got lots of money," he said.  

British Columbia introduced a 15 per cent property transfer tax for foreign buyers in July 2016 for Metro Vancouver, as a way to dissuade foreign buyers from scooping up property in the red-hot market. 

Data is limited, as Statistics Canada has just begun tracking these numbers, but CBC News reports that "non-residents" make up less than five per cent of the total Metro Vancouver housing market.  

Tse said the tax isn't much of an obstacle for foreign buyers. 

"If they have tons of money, what is 10 to 20 per cent?" he said. 

'But that's life'

In Metro Vancouver, which is known as a popular area for foreign buyers, the average detached home price is 35 times the average local household income.

"I know," Tse said, when asked if this seems unfair to local people who are being pushed out of the housing market. "But that's life."

Tse said he expects to sell the house within a month, and to get close to the nearly $4-million price tag.

"I mean [buyers] don't care because … in the long run, Vancouver is still a favourable place for people to move in," he said.

Written by Sarah Jackson with files from CBC Vancouver. Produced by Nathan Swinn.