A lawyer has taken Vancouver’s real estate crisis into his own hands, starting a novel website to bring together buyers with owners willing to sell their homes for less than market value.
David Kandestin launched the Vancouver Home Project on Monday, and has already heard from 50 people – including a homeowner willing to knock half a million dollars off the price of their property.
“I’m not looking to solve the problem, I’m just looking to help people look at it in a different way,” Kandestin told Vancity Buzz.
“The real estate market here is so toxic, it makes you hate the city. I want this website to make you not hate the city and realize there are other people in the same boat as you.”
Sellers ‘pay it forward’
Kandestin says most of the emails he’s received have been from buyers, but despite their situation, they were still positive.
“Ultimately it’s not just complaining, it’s them sharing their stories and what they want to do,” he said.
Kandestin has also heard from homeowners who want something bigger and are willing to sell “in the spirit of this website so they can pay it forward.”
He says one homeowner says she was sick of what the market has become.
‘We got lucky’
Kandestin is also trying to pay it forward himself after buying a place in Mount Pleasant last year; unbelievably he got it for the listing price after it showed badly.
“We got lucky and snuck in. It was still expensive but we didn’t have to go through the crazy bidding wars that other people have gone through.”
Instead of moving in straightaway, Kandestin decided to rent it out to a young local family for less than the typical rental rates, which he describes as “crazy.”
“The housing market is a disaster. I didn’t think it could get any worse,” he said. “We don’t think we’ll ever be able to afford even a townhouse or a house at this point.”
‘Just a pipe dream’
Those are feelings echoed by the emails he’s received from potential home buyers.
“Some have been abroad and recently moved back and are shocked at the situation and don’t know what they’re going to do,” said Kandestin.
Others say they’re making really good salaries but are still struggling to afford a place.
“In any other city this would get us to a point where we could afford something … Here it’s just a pipe dream and we can’t do it,” he said.
Kandestin says he’d like to write back to everyone and let them know their story is being heard.
“I never imagined this site would get this much attention,” he said. “Hopefully I would like to link at least one person up with another for a sale to actually happen.”
Kandestin knows this spirit of altruism might be a long shot, but he says he’s willing to give it a go.
“People say I’m in la-la-land, who would ever want to do this? I agree, I am in la-la-land – but given that the prices have gone to la-la-land, maybe we need a la-la-land solution.”
Editor’s Note: This story initially said a homeowner had offered to knock a million dollars off the price of their property. In fact, Kandestin has clarified, it was half a million dollars.