There's nothing scarier to young Vancouverites than thinking about how they'll become first-time homeowners.
The real estate market is one of the most frequently discussed aspects of life in Vancouver. With all the consternation over the effects of foreign investment on prices and how increasingly pressured Gen Y-ers and older Millennials will combat the effects of the recession, many are scared away from the market all together.
Even if they decide to invest in a home regardless, there's still a minefield to navigate. Thankfully, a new app developed by Vancouver's own Skyrocket is hoping to help clear the path to homeownership in the Lower Mainland.
It's called Hoperty, and it's an information aggregate service for new real estate developments. It was originally conceived by an accountant named Raveen Seran about a year ago.
Raised in the Lower Mainland, save for a brief stint on Vancouver Island, he learned first hand about property development from his father's residential construction company, and while he had no desire to enter construction himself, Vancouver's real estate market was never far from his thoughts. He stayed in Vancouver for his education, getting a degree in business from UBC.
The idea for Hoperty had been gestating for many years, but it wasn't until he brought it to Mo Dhaliwal, the Director of Client Services for Skyrocket, that the development began. It's only just formally launched, though it's been online in a soft-opening for about a few weeks.
It's the not the first or only database on new properties: BuzzBuzzHome first hit the scene in 2009. What makes it different from that service is what makes it very similar to another home-finding standby. Visually, Hoperty takes its cues from Padmapper, with its flagged map interface, where BuzzBuzzHome relies more heavily on text searching to summon information.
“If you want to buy a resale property, you can go on MLS," Raveen said to Techvibes, "but if someone’s looking for a new home ... The developers who make these condos use internal marketing: they might use an agency, but they don’t list the pre-construction, and they don’t use MLS. Instead, you can go to this new development site.”
Currently, Hoperty is exclusively focused on properties in the Lower Mainland. However, it's early days yet, and since the service uses a scalable model, Hoperty plans to be available nationwide by this time next year. Its debut offerings have been well-received.
“Initial reactions have been very positive," Raveen says. "It’s a great complement to MLS: it has all the resale info, and this has all the new construction information.”
As to first-time buyers' fears, there's much to be optimistic about. Of the 18 properties currently featured on the site, 18 of them have options under $500,000.
Perhaps due to his upbringing in the industry, Raveen seems to have little patience for those who would rather gossip about real estate than face the facts. “A lot of people talk about it, everyone claims to be an expert, but there are new people moving here every day, and there is a limited supply," he explains. "People worry about ‘are we in a bubble?' What I do know from everything we’ve seen is that people are coming here, and they need somewhere to live.”
It has been said that hope is putting faith to work when doubting would be easier. For those willing to put their faith in the market to work, there's Hoperty.