We Love Knowing Our Buyers. Here's Why

This post first appeared on the Shift Development blog.

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At Shift, we are very close to our buyers and tenants. Every morning, we wave hello to our residential buyers on our walk to work and chat with our commercial tenants in the café line. We're a community member as much as we are a community builder. Over the course of 10 projects in Riversdale in as many years, we’ve sold 22 homes and have attracted over 100 businesses to the district. But during that time we’ve only attracted one buyer that originated through a realtor.

Just one.

Here’s why. In our experience, most realtors do the majority of their work in new neighbourhoods, and have a broad, city-wide focus. To do good work, they need to have a general understanding of city-wide trends, new housing stock in multiple neighbourhoods, and (mostly) suburban development. We do not. We're completely invested in one neighbourhood—Riversdale.

We have a deep and intimate relationship with Riversdale that is unmatched by any realtor (except perhaps for Kari Fox and her team at The Commercial Group). But at the same time, we're clueless when it comes to development in Rosewood. If you're looking to invest in Stonebridge, or Evergreen, or Kensington, don't call us. We can't help you. But if Riversdale piques your interest, come talk to us. Furthermore, if you agree with us that Riversdale is the most exciting neighbourhood in Saskatoon, then I think we are going to be friends.

Most realtors simply can't afford to go "all-in" with a single neighbourhood the way a developer can. It’s not because of a lack of interest, just that it's hard to justify keeping intimately abreast with what’s going on in Riversdale when there's a whole city to focus on. And there’s a lot going on in the neighbourhood. Lots of small changes are happening very quickly, for better or worse.

We live, work and play in Riversdale. My personal estimate is that I spend over 95 percent of my waking hours within the neighbourhood: We live in the first Phase of Element Urban Village, work at The Two Twenty, eat at Odd Couple, take our kids to Victoria Park every night. As a result of this deep immersion in the area, which we’ve been doing for over a decade now, we understand the dominant trends at work here. We see the nuances, know the property owners and can anticipate what’s coming in the near future. We can sell Riversdale confidently, because we live and breathe it.

In the spring of 2017, I undertook a research project to see what realtors thought about Riversdale and, in all honesty, I was shocked to hear some of the feedback. One realtor told me that Riversdale just wasn’t changing "as quickly as everyone expected.” After I picked myself up off the ground (from falling off my chair) I made this video to show the dramatic changes that have happened in just six years, from 2009—2015.  Over half of the commercial buildings on the first four blocks of 20th St W underwent dramatic renovations. The same can’t be said for any other area in Saskatoon.

 
 

I also heard another realtor claim that there were no sales in Riversdale above $400k in the last two years. That one is particularly interesting because I have records of over 18 units selling in excess of $400k in that same period.

The point is, we understand the neighbourhood we're building in, and we're heavily invested in its future. We have an incentive as a company and as a community member to represent the neighbourhood passionately and accurately, because we'll be here just as long as our buyers will.

If you’re considering one of our residential or commercial projects, please get in touch with me directly. My cell number is 306-262-4899. If you want to bring your realtor along with you, that's fine. We’re happy to work with buyer’s agents, but don’t wait for our projects to be listed on MLS. Sometimes they sell out before we ever get to list them.

 
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—Curtis Olson, CEO

Shift