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It’s incredible to believe but two new condo projects in Gibsons are in the works and both listed their “as-yet-to-be-constructed” units last week on MLS. This post will look at Soames Place at 875 Gibsons Way.

The composite image below begins with two images snagged from the development’s website followed by a description placed on its fairly new Facebook page. The map shows the project’s location in Gibsons (red “X”) and the two streetview images show the vacant lot that will, the developer hopes, be the future home of Soames Place - snugly sandwiched between the PetroCanada gas station and Sita’s Spag & Suds Italian restaurant; both businesses, no doubt, excited at the prospects.

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I decided to expend a tad extra effort on this project because of who I see as their primary target market and the social media tools they (the Realtors) are employing to reach that target; we’re talking Facebook and Twitter. However, before I explore those tools let’s find out about this project from its website sole blog post (Note:highlighting and underlining are my own):

Quote:October 31, 2013
Affordable, urban style living in the heart of Gibsons, BC. Soames Place consists of 28 Residential condominium units, 4 commercial units with amenities including a meeting room, ample parking and bike storage.

With prices starting at only $225,300 and a guaranteed 5yr fixed, 3.70% mortgage rate, this makes Soames Place an easy and affordable stepping stone in to home ownership or just to eliminate your current mortgage and down size in to one of these homes.

Soames Place has been designed with a “West Coast” feel in mind and boasts quality interior finishing’s [sic] in each unit including quartz countertops, stylish subway tile back splash, laminate flooring and a whirlpool stainless steel appliance package.

With all amenities just steps away, you’ll find no need to get in to your car. Soames Place is located across from Sunnycrest Mall for all of your shopping needs! For families, walk your children a block and a 1⁄2 to elementary school, which is currently going through a $3 million upgrade, and your older children a short walk across Gibsons Way to Elphinstone Secondary School. If you frequent Vancouver for pleasure or commute to work, you have the convenience of public transit with a new and improved schedule, right outside your door! The list goes on, with community centre, walking trails and parks all within minutes of Soames Place.


Register Online Today or call our sales centre at 1.866.565.6537.

Now, it’s the “marketing buzzwords” that give a clue as to whom the target market is; so let’s list them. From the above quote:
  • Affordable, Affordable Pricing
  • Urban style living
  • Unbeatable location
  • Stylish design
From Facebook, Twitter and website:
  • Style, Stylish, Sophistication
  • Urban Style
  • In the heart of Gibsons
  • Opportunity to live right in the middle of it all
  • Connect with nature
Couple these buzzwords with “easy and affordable stepping stone in to [sic] home ownership” and I think we get a good picture that the target is young, edgy, urbanites between the ages of 25 - 35 with good paying jobs that can afford to carry a 5yr fixed mortgage rate of 3.7% for the 1 or 2 bedroom units of 735 - 977sf, priced from $269,500 to $373,450. There are three larger 2 bedroom units at 1239 & 1395sf, but they have yet to be listed - I’ll guess their pricing at $425,000 - $450,000. You can ignore that “starting at $225,300 (after incentive)” and I will tell you why shortly.

Now the big question is what is the size of this population segment in the Gibsons area? Today, I uploaded the 2011 census results for both Gibsons area and District of Sechelt here in the VanPeak forum in my ‘Demographics and other fun stuff…’ thread. That census counted 630 individuals in the Gibsons area and 735 in the DoS in the 25 - 34 year old age bracket. I would hazard that more than half of those individuals are married to each other, came to work in construction related jobs during the ‘Sunshine Coast Land Rush 2005-2006’, live in their own homes, townhomes or condos and are thus already mortgaged to the eyeballs. I also wouldn’t be surprised to learn that many of those individuals are finding it struggle to live due to the slowdown in construction and that they are behind the many Sunshine Coast homes currently listed on MLS. Hence the turn to social media to possibly attract newcomers to the coast which explains the “If you frequent Vancouver or commute to work…” in the quote above.

Will it work? I have pulled the only “conversation” so far on the Soames Place Facebook page. Now, the Facebook and Twitter sites have both been set-up by the Realtors marketing the project, Lynette & Cody Robinson of The Robinson Group (I am under the impression they are a mother and son team due to the FB comment, “I will put a few of your mums cards in my pocket”) who are affliated with Sutton Group-WestCoast Realty. The Facebook page got off the ground on October 18th and so far there are 60 Likes; however, if you take a closer look at those “Likes” you discovers most are from the developer, a family member, individuals tied to the real estate industry either on the coast or in Vancouver, and likely a few past Robinson Group clients. The “Most Popular Age Group” fits the bill but I think that includes the developer, his family member and any friends they may have sent the Facebook address to. You have to remember a Facebook page will only “trend” the more “Likes” you get.

Now, the graph which I grabbed today shows interest is definitely falling off and quickly. This is the whole issue with social marketing - if you're not posting daily and expanding and engaging your “network” then the whole exercise is pointless. This view is supported by the following info explaining what “People Talking About This” means found on the ‘WebMarketingToday’ website:

Quote:What Is ‘People Talking About This’ — PTAT? Here is how Facebook defines the metric.

“People Talking About This” is the number of people who have created a story from your Page post. Stories include:
  • Sharing. Shares of your page’s updates, videos, images, and activities.
  • Page Likes. Every instance when Facebook users click “Like” on your page.
  • Commenting on your post. Comments to Facebook posts and updates.
  • Mentions and photo tags. Users tagging your page in their post updates or tagging you in their photos.
  • Check-ins. Facebook local check-ins to your Places page.
  • Responding to an event. Responding to events — attending, not attending, or not sure.
  • Claiming an offer. Redeeming a Facebook page offer — the process would involve Facebook emailing the claimed offer.
So whenever any of the above actions are carried out by a unique user, and as a result, a News Feed story is generated, your page’s “People Talking About This” metric goes up by one. In short, “People Talking About This” is all about fans creating stories about your page.

As an example, if your fans or even non-fans Liked, shared, commented, participated in a poll, attended a Facebook event you hosted, or claimed an offer from your page, each unique person that carries out these actions increases your PTAT number by one. Each person adds a point — so a Like and a comment by a fan on a post would add one point to your PTAT count.

A mention of your page as a status message on fans’ or non fans’ pages without tagging your page is null; however, tagging your page in their status or in a photograph they post creates a PTAT point.

Points to remember:

“People Talking About This” reveals only seven days of engagement data. The first point to note about PTAT is that it only shows your page’s engagement performance over seven days and does not give full insight into your page’s overall performance. If you had been inactive on Facebook for the last week, then your PTAT would reflect it — but this would not indicate that your EdgeRank or potential reach is low.

Expect 1 to 10 percent of your fans to create stories about your page. Even hugely popular Facebook pages expect only a minute fraction of their fans engaging with their posts and activities on Facebook. Depending on the kind of content you share, your page’s PTAT would likely be 1 percent of your fan base. Consider anything above 1 percent, without the aid of advertising, above average. Anything above 3 percent without promotion indicates good engagement.

What is critical for effective Facebook marketing is better understanding the kind of people that interact with your page and the type of content that drives engagement.

The irony in all this social media marketing came home the other night with a CBC National News piece - the young are leaving Facebook in droves and Facebook admits it (‘Facebook profits at risk as teens look elsewhere’). Just when it’s been fully embraced by businesses and adults over 40 you find the largest user segment is kissing it goodbye. Why? For just that exact reason - that FB has become a marketing tool and their parents and grandparents have jumped on board. Of course, Soames Place isn’t targeting teens but they are the trend setters when it comes to social media use.

Now, the FB conversation I mentioned above and which I show below is likely closer to the mark as to whom the Robsinsons really want to reach - investors! I think they know those urban demographics aren’t working in their favour. So, this individual who lives in Vancouver and who may already own investment property on the coast made Cody Robinson’s day with:

“I will however mention it to friends who might want to invest…If one can rent…”
Robinson’s response: “Yes rentals will be allowed! Please pass my contact along…”

Oh, happy day.

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We mustn’t ignore Twitter. Alas, as the image below shows there has not been a “Tweet” twitted and the only followers include the developer, Mr. Lee; the Realtor, Cody Robinson; and, Hootsuite. Hootsuite? That’s the hugely successful Vancouver-based company that’s developed an application that allows you to access all your social networking from one “user-friendly” interface. Of course, it gets more complicated for large businesses and corporations - so much so, that you can enroll your employees in Hootsuite University so they can learn how to fully “engage.” If you ever receive an email, tweet or see a post that has an “ “ link it was created in Hootsuite.

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The developer behind ‘Soames Place’ is Leeon Projects Ltd and according to the project website:

Quote:Leeon Projects LTD. Is a local Sunshine Coast based development company that currently also owns and operates local businesses in the community. Leeon Projects Ltd is dedicated to improving local community and lifestyle on the Sunshine Coast by focusing solely on locally based projects.

Prior to setting up the Soames Place website, the Leeon website announced pre-construction sales would begin in September and you could contact Mr. Andrew Lee personally. That one page site also listed Leeon’s business address which happens to be the address for the Sunshine Lodge Inn on North Rd in Gibsons - just around the corner from the Soames Place location. And, thanks to Facebook we can meet Mr. Andrew Lee via his own Facebook page and without even having to join FB we learn that Mr. Lee was so taken with the Vdara Resort Hotel & Spa in Las Vegas that he chose its logo wall to back drop his own pic. In fact, I think he was sitting in one of its lounges eating a meal when his pic was taken. Young, urban and edgy.

Mr. Lee’s LinkedIn “teaser” page (what LinkedIn - business networking site - allows you to see via Google without joining) tells us he is a ‘Real Estate Professional’ in Burnaby, British Columbia and from 2009-2011 was Junior Accountant at Leeon Projects Ltd. I am taking this as meaning he was learning the ropes at the family business and now is fully “engaged” and perhaps this stylish designed, affordably priced, unbeatably located project in Gibsons is his own endeavour. Bon chance, Mr. Lee!

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Now, I mentioned above that we could ignore that announced starting price of $225,300 and here’s why. Gibsons has adopted a policy requiring all new developments to offer a few units of affordable housing to ensure they successfully procure their rezoning and development permits. As a June 8, 2013 Coast Reporter piece explained (see quote below), Leeon Projects initially had some difficulty meeting this requirement but then came through with two units.

Quote:The second housing project is a four-storey commercial/residential development on Gibsons Way next to PetroCan put forward by Leeon Projects Ltd.

The proposal was not supported by council at their May 7 meeting, because there was only one affordable housing unit in the plan. The proposal was brought back for a further discussion at the May 28 committee of the whole meeting following a letter from Leeon Projects. Staff met with the applicant and came back to council with a report on June 4.

“Leeon Projects has applied for rezoning and a development permit,” Boel said. “With regards to community amenities and affordable housing, the proposal now includes two price restricted affordable units priced below $241,000 and the inclusion of community amenities in the frontage of the development. The price point of the affordable housing units meets current affordability requirements and the proposed amenities improve the overall quality of the development.”

Council endorsed the project in principle while requesting staff work with the applicant on further details and to bring back a housing agreement and bylaw for consideration after completion of the rezoning process.

“I’d just like to thank the members of council for going through this process,” said Coun. Dan Bouman. “The discussion was maybe a little testy at times, but I feel this will be a great project, be highly successful and contribute to the Town.”

It just so happens there are 2 - 1 bed/1bathroom units (205, 405) each at 735sf (smallest available) have not been put up on MLS. I think these likely carry that $225,300 price tag with the “incentive” being that you have to plead poverty and apply through the Town of Gibsons for consideration. The remaining 1bed/1bath unit (305) is listed at $269,500 which is a far cry from that $225,300 price - I doubt if any early bird purchase discount has ever reached 16.5% on the SC but these are interesting times so who knows.

Okay, let’s check out this edifice supposedly “Where Style and Sophistication Connect with Nature” whilst located across from the Sunnycrest Mall on that highly industrial, commercial route known as Gibsons Way. Right off the top, I want to say that I am 100% for any complex with commercial space below. In my opinion strip malls should never have been allowed and those that exist should be torn down and only buildings such as this be put in their place. That being said the issue is can Gibsons absorb the commercial space? If the 4 commercial units sell at Soames Place, I expect it will be at the expense of older leased commercial units.

So, the image below shows the exterior, the layouts of levels 1 (commercial), 2 and 4 (level 3 is the same as level 2 but with the smaller balconies). I also show three of the floorplans; there are 11 but most are slight variations of ‘B’ with G, H and J being the largest units on level 4.

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I recommend a visit to the Soames Place website as you can take a panoramic video tour of the views offered from the units and floor levels (click on a unit floorplan). Just remember that should the building become a ‘fait accompli’ you will have to put on and securely hook up your harness before leaning out over the balcony rail to take in the views from all but one of the units on level 3 and from 4 of the 5 smaller units on level 4. Safety first!

Here is the 'Soames Place' spreadsheet with all available listing info at this time:

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Finally, I thought it would be interesting to take a look around the ‘hood at some the other listed units that are directly in competition with Soames Place for that rare and elusive subspecies of Homo sapiens called “the real estate buyer.”

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Only Blue Heron Village is another condo/commercial complex. All the other listings are townhomes such as those at Island Vista at 665 Crucil Rd that are 1500-2198sf and never been lived in. There are the two new 1000sf duplexes on Gerussi Lane. Also, we could include the seven new 2 & 3 bedroom, 1,088 to 1360sf detached homes reduced to $309,000 - $339,000 at the Mews off Gerussi Lane (not indicated on map above because they are homes). The townhomes at 735 Park Rd are only 8 - 14 years old and range in size from 1265-1634sf.

I wonder why so many townhomes other than the new builds are now on the market. Maybe the current owners are looking at the continuously falling single detached house prices on the coast thinking, “I could buy now if I could only sell.” Or, maybe they’ve lost their jobs and want to move to Saskatchewan where there’s work. Or, maybe they’re buying into the marketing hype and want to be stylish, sophisticated, and live right in the middle of it all by paying much more for much less.

November 14, 2013 Update:

I had meant to include another interesting tidbit in my conclusion but forgot. In that June 8, 2013 Coast Reporter story I quoted from and linked to above, there was a second project given the green light by Gibsons town council. Wait for it…“a 28-unit townhouse development on Park Road put forward by Sunbelt Properties.” Do you believe it!!!

All those townhomes on the market shown above and Sunbelt in its infinite wisdom thinks this Gibsons area needs more.
Facebook's Law of Diminishing Returns

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December 21, 2013 Update:

The Sunshine Coast’s weekly newspaper, Coast Reporter, includes a few pages devoted to Real Estate ads in each week’s addition. The CR titles this insertion - “Real Estate Weekly” (.pdf download). It averages 4 - 8 pages depending on the time of year.

In yesterday’s edition, December 20th, Soames Place had a new ad. I was all set to offer my congratulations since the ad announced “Over 20% Sold”, but on sober second thought my excitement was tempered. You see, I went back and looked at the spreadsheet and nothing has changed since my initial November 13th post.

The spreadsheet indicates that on November 4, Soames listed 22 of its total 28 condo units on MLS and up until two days ago not one of those 22 listed units has sold. Now, if you do the calculation, those 6 units not listed represent 21.4% of the total - right, so this is must be where that “Sold” percentage comes from in the ad.

So, I headed to the Soames Place website after this realization and sure enough those six unlisted units are now indicated as “SOLD” on the floorplans. Now, there is no MLS data to indicate they have sold outright, so if they have sold then it must be via a “Contract to Purchase.” So, sometime between November 29th and December 20th, those six units were technically “Sold.” Why do I say it had to occur after November 29th?

Well, it is always interesting to watch how new developments progress and much can be learned from their advertisements. So, here are the Soames Place adverts to date. The four come from the Coast Reporter 'RE Weekly' feature and a December 4th Soames Place Facebook posting shows a picture of the CR November 29th ad. See, these sales had to have occurred after the 29th. There were no adverts placed locally for the project after the 29th until the one in the Coast Reporter yesterday.

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Hmmm, notice with yesterday’s ad the starting price has now increased. And, that “Limited time incentive” mentioned at the bottom of November 22nd advert to get 10% "of" the unit of your choice is likely over - can't imagine that appealed to very many.

Right, so according to yesterday’s newspaper ad Soames Place is happy to announce “Over 20% Sold.” Now, here is something that really has me stumped. As I mentioned in the initial post above, the Realtors marketing this project have turned to social media, Twitter and Facebook to be exact, to promote and garner interest. You would think that if anywhere they would want to “shout out” this sales information it would be via these immensely popular sites; but, not a word, not a peep, not a tweet. I’ve just checked both sites again - nada. This is a mystery.

However, this silence regarding the sales might be for the best because I think “technically speaking” the “Over 20% Sold” is, perhaps, optimistic and it has to do with the two units Soames Place is required to set aside for social housing - something it had to do to get its rezoning and this, too, is mentioned in my first post. So, if we remove those two units that have been set aside but given the market competition likely haven't been sold (see picture of all listings in area in 1st post), then this reduces the “Over 20% Sold” to “ Over 14% Sold.” And, three of those remaining four units now indicated as sold are the only units larger than 1000sf and all are up there on the fourth level. All three gone and so fast, too, which has to be a relief for the developer.


I mentioned in my initial post I am honestly fascinated with the decision to market this development via social networking. This is partly due to exploring Facebook back in 2007 for my own internet business. I decided it wasn’t worth the time and effort and never regretted that decision given how Facebook has subsequently handled the private information of its members. Since 2007, I have followed tech news closely and everything I have read regarding social media has me avoiding it like the plague.

However, my avoidance doesn’t mean I want to be ignorant of the way it functions especially given the fact it has become so pervasive as a marketing and advertising tool for business; besides, I just like to know how stuff works. So, I have been doing some research on the use of Facebook by business and by real estate in particular as a means to reach customers and clients and I have gained some interesting insights and hope to share them with you in an upcoming post.

I would have to say that based on what I understand unless the local Realtors involved here are willing to dig deep into their own pockets this use of Facebook and Twitter for this project will go nowhere. I have taken a few screenshots to show you what I mean. On the right, you can see how Twitter has been used - actually “not” used. Only two tweets - November 19th and 24th - and see no mention of the “Over 20% Sold” - why not when this is exactly the sort of info you want to send out?

Facebook is the one to really keep your eye on. Those screenshots were taken yesterday and so far there are 91 like which means zip if those likes are from the developer and his family, friends of the Realtors, and those involved with FIRE industries on the Sunshine Coast. There are probably a few past Realtor clients thrown in for good measure but they don’t seem to be much help expanding the fan base. The graph shows that interest picks up around posts but it is very short lived. The last FB post was on December 4th when a picture of the December 4th Coast Reporter ad (see above) was posted. Since then, no mention on this important social media tool of the “Over 20% Sold” - again, why not? Wouldn't this be the sort of info to get everyone "talking about you"?

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One interesting stat is in that FB ‘Page Insights’ box where the ‘Most Popular City’ for responses went from being Vancouver for the initial posts around November 1st, to Gibsons for the next small flurry of posts starting November 18th and now there is no ‘Most Popular City’ at all. The reach of or interest in this site seems to be contracting. But, it is December and without a doubt there will be a flurry of posting come January. Or, maybe that new CR ad will be posted in the days ahead.


As an aside:

Social media has also gained in popularity with criminals, hackers and spammers. There was a great read the other day in the Vancouver Sun concerning how city author Steven Galloway ('The Cellist of Sarajevo' - excellent, excellent novel) had some fun over two days with a phishing scam on his FB page. The VanSun displayed this back and forth communication in its entirety and it is absolutely hilarious. If you missed it, here is the link and be prepared to ROFLOL.
April 14, 2014 Update:

Soames Place Sales Centre is open for business this upcoming long Easter weekend. The annoucement appeared in last Friday’s Coast Reporter Real Estate Weekly (April 11th). If you go, you could win a prize and I assume you don’t have to buy a condo to get it. So with this big news, I thought it was time for a Soames Place update. I have been popping into the project’s Facebook page every two to three weeks or so to see what’s new. As you can see with the pics on the right the project is underway. We learned about the first hole dug; then it was the setting up of the crane; and, by mid-March it was the footings and the elevator slab. I wait with bated breath for the next construction pics which should be coming soon.

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I have been under the impression that projects such as these need to have 50% of units presold to procure financing, and recently I heard that may have increased to 60%. Soames Place has not reached that presale level - far from it. So, I assume Leeon Projects Ltd must be able to go it alone, has private investors, or perhaps is using another business as collateral.

How are sales going? Back on November 4, 2013, 22 condos units were listed on MLS and today there are still 22 units listed. Here is the updated spreadsheet. I say “updated” because the units with no MLS data in my November 13th post above became “Sold” on the website floorplans on December 20th. As I mentioned in that November 13 post, the developer was required to set aside two 'social housing' units to receive the zoning bylaw amendment. I concluded that these must be #205 and #405 since they have the smallest square footage and the smallest price tag. As for the remaining 4 “Sold” units, since they were never listed there is no corresponding sales data; perhaps, the buyers signed a Pre-Sale Contract to Purchase, put down a deposit and will ante up the balance when Soames Place is move in ready.

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(I won’t be surprised to see all these listing removed In the not too distant future and then only 10 or so of the units relisted)

How about that Soames Place social media marketing? How’s it going? I think it can be summed up in one word: pfft.

Twitter is moribund with only two tweets sent out: one on Nov 19, and the other on Nov 25. There was no reaction to either and neither resulted in any additional followers.

Facebook seems to be the go to platform for the Realtors although they’re not exactly wearing it out with only 1 or 2 postings a month. My first VP post back in October showed 60 total “likes” and this increased to 91 by the end of December. By the end of January, 4 more “likes” were garnered and as of today the total stands at 96. The “Most Popular WeeK” (when most people were “talking” about the page) occurred on November 24, 2013. The “Most Popular Age Group” (talking about this page) remains 25 - 34 years old - say, isn’t that that the group with the humongous debt after leaving college and university; and, you know, the group with all the high paying jobs, right? And, didn’t I read somewhere that this group are great savers and therefore have the deposit tucked away and will be able to handle that mortgage - or was I dreaming all this?

What I take away from this FB graph for Soames Place is that there aren’t very many “talking about this page” anymore - only 4 after the April 2nd post (blue line) and as for “New Likes Per Week” well you might as well say “0” if you look at the action since January 15 (black line).

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(This graph is a composite image of screen captures taken on past visits to the Facebook stats page)

It’s too bad a few dozen of those “Likes" haven’t morphed into sales. It’s early, though, and I’m sure the Grand Opening kick-off will help ignite that pent-up subconscious desire to buy.

As for those commercial spaces for lease, maybe they’re worth consideration in another post sometime in the future.
August 23, 2014 Update:

My last look at the under construction Soames Place condominium/commercial development in Gibsons was back on April 14, so an update is long overdue.

We know that except for July spring and summer sales have been more than good for the Sunshine Coast especially in Gibsons which is the hottest market with total sales (all types) up +34% compared to 2013. Attached sales in Gibsons were up +39% year-to-date compared to last year.

So, how has Soames Place where according to its website keywords “Style and Sophistication Connect…” fared since its Sales Centre opened on April 19th and four months have passed since my last update? Well, there have been some sales - three MLS sales to be exact: 1 in April and 2 in May and nothing since.

According to this weekend’s Coast Reporter Real Estate Weekly, the Soames Place Sales Centre is open daily between 2 - 4 pm and this has been the case since sometime in May. Hmmmm. Well, it’s good there are 4 agents that can rotate through the centre.


Hey, but what about those social marketing feeds that The Robinson Group set up for Soames Place? Well, Twitter was a bust - only two tweets were ever sent out. Ah, but surely Facebook came through, right? Not!

I think the Robinsons may have come to the conclusion that marketing a development on the Sunshine Coast via the project's own Facebook page is pure and simple a colossal waste of time. That is certainly my view unless you are willing to pay Facebook to do targeted advertising that will reach into the lower mainland; however, I bet no real estate agent on the SC will want to take on that cost. So, here is the Soames Place Facebook page below as of today and you can see that the last post was way back on June 3rd and most of those 19 "Likes" for that last post included the developer, his family and their friends plus the real estate agent and her friends and cohorts plus some local Gibsons residents and businesses - you know just the right mix that wouldn’t be the least bit interested in buying one of these condos.

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The Robinson Group diligently works their Facebook page; however, a timeline perusal shows that the last Soames Place mention was back on June 3rd, too. As for The Robinson Group Twitter feed, there’s a Soames Place tweet back on March 7th. RE agents Gail Brachat and Joni Selmes ( who joined The Robinson Group at some point in marketing this project appear not to use social media (see no links on their website).

I updated the Soames Place spreadsheet and today I headed over to the Soames Place website for a final floorplan check to make sure I hadn’t missed any “Website Sold” units. Well, my golly gosh look what I found…

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Now, I wonder who is responsible for this fiasco.

Well, the website was up and running a few weeks ago and nothing on the floor plans had changed since I created and posted the spreadsheet in the previous post.

So, here is the new Soames Place spreadsheet. The “Unit” column on the left now offers information according to a colour code which is explained below the spreadsheet. Two units have been set aside as social housing and despite the fact the website floorplans indicate the units as sold there is no MLS data to support that unless the buyers have signed an agreement to purchase with the Town of Gibsons. The website floorplans also indicated 4 other units as sold and it is possible they have been bought via an “Agreement to Purchase” since there is no MLS supporting data. Then there are those 3 MLS sales over the last four months…but, there is room for optimism since I find my updates seem to kick off a sale or two. Here’s hoping, SP.

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Have any or all of the four commercial units on the ground level been leased? Well, that is something we will never know until the day one sees a lessee prepping the unit and eventually opening the doors for business.
August 27, 2014 Update:

Good news for the developer - the Soames Place website is up and running, again, as of today. Well done, folks. Tongue
December 7, 2015 Update

A Soames Place update is long, long overdue – I can’t believe the last post was back in August, 2014. This doesn’t mean I haven’t been keeping my eye on the project. For instance I know that the grand-opening occurred mid-June – yep, its move-in ready, for sure. Another thing I know is that The Robinson Group no longer handles the condo marketing and sales. SC Realtor John McKenzie took that over in October and Holywell 90 Day Realty got the commercial units. See, I know what’s happening.

So, with an update badly needed I headed right to the Soames Place Facebook page today and snagged a screenshot of the last post.
Looks like someone named Alessandro sent the developer, Andrew Lee, pictures of his newly decorated unit. 16 people really liked those pics, too, and one viewer, Linda Sabiston, even left a comment: “Yes, very nice pictures, indeed...”

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So, with so much approval, I just had to click on those pics and check them all out and they’re beautiful pics of a beautifully staged unit. You can check them out, too, by clicking here and then click on a pic to open the album.

It was the deck pics that really got my attention and I thought, “Hey that has to be Unit #210.” That unit is at the back of the building and has the largest patio deck in the complex. And, that unit stuck in my mind because it was developer listed in November 2013 for $351,450 and sold in August 2014 for $307,500 (↓12.5%). It was put up for sale again in July 2015 at $370,000 (↑20.3%) and sold for ask near the end of September. While all this was happening nothing else was moving. There are 28 condos in this project and 19 are still up on MLS – there have been only nine sales and this unit flipped and the flipper made money!!!! Get out!!!

So, I’m looking at these unit pictures and wondering what’s going on? Who is Alessandro? I thought he might be an interior designer who bought the unit to stage to drum up business – that happened at the Watermark. But, different searches got me nowhere so I just let it go and then this...

[Image: attachment.php?aid=1231]

There’s Alessandro and he is a web developer and lives in Vancouver and he bought Unit 210 at Soames Place and then had it beautifully decorated then hired Linda Sabiston of ‘First Impression Photography’ who does high end shoots for a lot of local Realtors so that he could use those beautiful images to entice people to his new $175.00 per night motel room...

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Well, my golly gosh. Do you believe it? Talk about adding insult to injury – the developer is practically pulling his hair out for lack of sales and this one unit gets sold twice and the second time at a profit and will now make as much money in a week as the developer hopes to make in a month renting out another unit. I kid you not.

Unit #301 has been listed on the Holywell Property Management site since July 20th (and Craigslist, too). It was first listed at $1450/mth and on November 7th the rental price was dropped to $1350/mth and on top of that the developer is willing to throw in a pre-paid $500 BC Ferry card for signing a yearlong lease.

Alessandro is expecting to make $1225 per week to stay in his tastefully decorated condo/motel unit. Oh, Mr. Lee, life is so unfair. Honestly, who would want to own a real motel these days?

[Image: attachment.php?aid=1233]

I’m just putting the finishing touches to my updated Soames Place spreadsheet and will post it in a day or two. Alessandro distracted me. Oh by the way, it doesn’t look like he’s rented it out yet, but he does have 26 reviews – they’re for his Vancouver AirBnB digs and everyone seems very happy with Alessandro. So, don’t worry Mr. Lee when up to 6 strangers per night waltz in and out of your spanking new condo development. I'm sure Alessandro has it under control...from Vancouver.
December 9, 2015 Update

I remember thinking, “Oh, boy” when first learning of this project. I just didn’t think the demographics were there to make this project fly; plus there were so many other townhouse and condo unit listings in competition. Unfortunately, my thoughts seemed to have been spot on. But, look at The Wharf Place in Sechelt it was dead in the water for two years and then mid-2014 sales took off and now after four years of listing only 2 units of the 24 remain unsold...hmm, guess that is still rather depressing, isn’t it.

Social Media Marketing
The whole social media aspect of marketing Soames Place I found intriguing; but, it was a bust. The Twitter feed was rarely used and is pointless unless you’re a developer with lots of projects on the go and can tweet something new every day to the hundreds who bought pre-construction and wait word on every nail being hammered in. As for Facebook, well in this case most of the likes came from the developer, his family and friends, contractors, local Realtors®, SC agencies and one or two town councillors. My research showed me that unless you’re willing to pay Facebook for targeted ads your posts are going nowhere except to the very bottom of the newsfeed list. Those Soames Place Facebook posts did zip to generate sales, but they occupied a few people for a few minutes when received.

Social Housing Units
Way back at the dawn of time when home prices were sky high, Soames Place like every other development in Gibsons and Sechelt agreed to throw in some social housing units to get re-zoning approval. Soames Place set aside 2 one-bedroom units. Then this spring the developer went back to town council and said the units were discouraging sales; wanted to drop them; and, make a payment to a social housing fund instead. Soames Place was in good company - developers in both towns were asking for the social housing decisions to be reversed since prices had dropped so much since 2007. Council agreed with the Soames Place request and the units went on the market in April. Well, dropping those units made no impact on sales, either. (See: ‘Affordable housing units to be returned to developer', May 20, 2015)

Rental Units
The developer decided to test the waters and put two units, #301 and #302, on the rental market and they popped up on the Holywell Properties website (and Craigslist) July 20th and July 22nd. #301 was set at $1450/mth and #302 at $1550/mth. In addition, a $500 prepaid BC Ferry card was thrown into the mix with a yearlong lease. Not one unit moved and on November 7th the rental price dropped $1000/mth on each. Finally, last week #302 disappeared from Holywell. #301 still remains. Both units remain listed on MLS.

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Commercial Units
I strongly support the idea of a commercial/residential mix but you have to have a thriving economy and the population to support it and neither exists on the Sunshine Coast. It’s demographics once again. So, Soames Place has managed to lease only one of its four commercial units. The units went off the market for a few months and then in October were relisted. Holywell is handling the MLS listing but it’s the strangest thing; the MLS listing puts the units at $25/sf while on the Holywell Properties website they’re going for $22/sf.

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The Condo Spreadsheet
It’s gotten a bit complex for a number of reasons: units that appeared “sold” on the website (12) but then went up on MLS (5); units that were for Social Housing (2) and then were not (-2); price increases and then decreases; and, the rentals (2). So, I added colour coding to hopefully make sense of it all.

(click on image)

The Commercial Spreadsheet
The four units were first listed on MLS in February 2015 and Unit 104 was leased in June. The remaining 3 listings disappeared by mid-August. Holywell Properties Real Estate took over the listing and marketing of the units at the beginning of October and put up one MLS listing covering all three units. Holywell also added the three units to its properties management website on October 17th and in early November lowered the lease price on there to $22/sf.

(click on image)

There are some positive signs on the horizon that may help Soames Place. Much of the townhouse inventory has been depleted; there is an effort underway to attract young adults and families back to the coast (website); and, those that left for the hundred-thousand dollar plus per year paying jobs in the oil patch are probably trickling back, too. Mind you, good paying jobs on the SC are in short supply these days so unless those arriving can make a living on their own as “social entrepreneurs” they might have to convert the crawl space under the house or turn the shed out back into something habitable and stick it up on AirBnb.

And, interest rates, we mustn't forget the interest rates. Let's see, the Bank of Canada prime lending rate stands at 0.25% and not long ago, BoC Governor Stephen Poloz said it would never go lower...until yesterday. Now, the guv says negative interest rates are an option should the economy tank which looks like it may well do. So, let's see if those variable bank mortgate rates which were beginning to rise suddenly start dropping again on this good news.

To Save and Print the Spreadsheets:
The best procedure is to save to your hard drive. So, click on the image and after it opens in a new tab, right click and click ‘Save image as...’ (exact wording depends on your browser). With Windows OS, you will save it in your Pictures Library. After saving the image, find it and click on it and it should open in the ‘Windows Photo Viewer.” Click on ‘Print’ in menu bar and then click ‘Print’ again and the print dialog box will open. You want ‘Full Page Photo’ and most importantly at the bottom you want to remove the checkmark for ‘Fit picture to frame’ (click in box to remove checkmark). Set the other options to your own preferences; however, ‘Letter’ size paper works best unless you can choose something larger like ‘Legal.’