This week we welcome Michael Ferreira of the Vancouver-based real estate research and consulting company, Urban Analytics to the BuzzTalk hive. Michael’s company has been providing analytical interpretations of real estate market data, trend analyses and strategic recommendations since 1994.

A real estate market vet, Michael has a variety of well-informed insights into the always astounding Vancouver housing market. We feel more in touch with the Vancouver market than ever after our chat with Michael and we hope you will too.


BuzzBuzzHome: For those not in the know, what services does Urban Analytics provide?

Michael Ferreira: We provide research and consulting/advisory services to the new multi-family residential real estate development industry. We work with any of the stakeholders that are involved in the industry from construction lenders to developers to project marketing companies, realtors or anybody who has something to do with residential real estate.

BBH: You’re the Managing Principal at Urban Analytics. How do you fit into all of this? What does your job entail?

MF: Pretty much a jack-of-all-trades. I’m involved primarily with business development, but I also oversee all of the analysis and consulting that goes out the door. Any recommendation we provide to a client will go through me before it’s passed to a client.

BBH: You’ve been in the industry for some time now. What was your first job in the industry?

MF: Doing what I’m doing now for a project marketing company here in Vancouver.

BBH: On your website it says that “Urban Analytics understand intangible marketing dynamics.” What do you mean by this and how does this help your clients

MF: The numbers that you see reported on a day-to-day basis don’t always tell the full story of what’s happening in the market. You really have to be on the ground and to be going and talking to the developers, going to their sales centres and talking to mortgage brokers who are providing new homebuyers with takeout financing to understand what some of the intangibles going on in the marketplace and how they affect what’s occurring there.

You get a sense of what the temperature of the market is even before the numbers come out and confirm that.

BBH: What’s your opinion on the Vancouver housing market at the moment? Are prices too high?

MF: Well, you know anybody with a reasonable brain would look at the prices in Vancouver and suggest that they’re too high. If you’re asking “are the prices too high in relation to how desirable a place it is to live” — the amount of demand that there is from people wanting to live in Vancouver— then no, I don’t think so.

There’s obviously a lot of demand coming from outside of Vancouver and that’s what’s driving a lot of the higher prices in very specific geographic areas of the region. Is that having a ripple effect into other subareas of the region? Yes, but not to the extent that some of the numbers might suggest.

BBH: You just mentioned international investors, specifically from Asia, investing in the housing market. Tell us more about that phenomenon.

MF: I think we need to be clear that not everybody coming from Asia is an investor. They’re coming in under the investor classification, but they’re not necessarily an investor when they’re buying property. They’re actually moving here, buying here, living here and then once they’re living here, they’re also investing in other properties.

We just need to be very careful that we don’t classify them all as “real estate investors.” They do become residents of the area.

BBH: Why do you think that is? Can you pinpoint what makes Vancouver so desirable?

MF: In general, I think the top thing is quality of life. The weather here is a big function in that. We’ve often heard it said that if they’re coming to Canada, they’ll go to Toronto if they want to make money, but those with money will come to Vancouver. That’s just a function of our economy.

From our research we’ve done — talking to immigration consultants and realtors and various people who deal with international residents that are coming to Vancouver — quality of the schools here is very good, and obviously the climate. It’s a safe harbour for their money too. We’re finding that there’s a lot of people who are coming here and while they’re moving and buying and living here, they’re also looking for a safe place to park their money. The Canadian economy is seen as a pretty safe place to do that.

BBH: Do you have any idea as to how many condo launches there will be in Vancouver coming up this fall?

MF: We’re anticipating between 45 and 50 new multi-family project launches prior to the end of the year. That includes all attached/row homes, low rise apartments, and high rise apartment projects.

BBH: Do you have any ideas about what the next “hot” neighbourhoods in Vancouver will be?

MF: There’s a neighbourhood called the Cambie Corridor in Vancouver which is where the Canada Line runs down into the city. The city just approved a new planning guideline for this corridor. It’s currently made up of single family detached homes and duplex homes and it’ll be redeveloped to accommodate concrete condos up to eight storeys for the most part — a mix of different multi-family forms.

What I would suggest in broad terms is anywhere that you have quick and convenient access to rapid transit is considered a hot area. There’s the Cambie Corridor in Vancouver and there’s an area we call “Burquitlam” which is on the border of Burnaby and Coquitlam. Again, there’s a new rapid transit line being proposed, they’re just waiting for funding, but the work is already underway — all the planning and expropriation — and it’s inevitable that it’s going to go ahead.

BBH: What is the Urban Analytics “M Lounge”?

MF: Our corporate philosophy is that our phone are always on, so if somebody just wants to pick up the phone to have a chat or driving by our office and talk about what’s going on in the market, if we’re here we’re happy to chat.

It came from when I was working at one of my developer clients’ offices in 2006-2007 and I had a bar fridge in my office. Friday afternoons my office became the “M Lounge” (for Michael) so it was just a place where my colleagues and I would get together for a beer at the end of the week.

BBH: What’s your beverage that gets you through the day?

MF: Water!

BBH: No caffeine?

MF: I do caffeine in the morning and you’ve got the 3 o’clock brick wall coffee, but throughout the day water typically keeps us going.

BBH: How do you like you eggs cooked for breakfast?

MF: Soft poached.

Thanks Michael for taking the time to buzz with us!

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