Call it a mad dash to get your hands on a $1.2 million townhouse. Or just call it madness.
“To me this is all bizarre,” said Steveston resident Franny Brooke of an apparent unplanned, impromptu sale of townhouse units at Kingsley Estates, the site of the former Steveston High secondary school.
Brooke, speaking to the Richmond News, described a chaotic scene that took place May 19, when a group of about 80 people showed up at the Polygon Homes sales office at Kingsley Estates and began camping out, despite there being no public announcement that sales of the townhouses were taking place.
Brooke said a sales manager was pushed and verbally harassed as potential buyers were not budging, despite being in an active construction site.
Ralph Archibald, Polygon’s senior vice-president of sales, said that was not the case and people were well behaved, however he noted Richmond RCMP did attend the scene for five minutes for crowd control.
Police told the News that officers attended the site after a complaint of open liquor in a public place, but no such violation was found.
Archibald said Polygon did not announce any sales, but rather the prospective buyers showed up and eventually camped overnight. The next day, Polygon handed out numbered tickets to clear the site. In the week that followed, the development firm sold 30 units to the aforementioned real estate campers.
“In advance of an opening date a lineup started,” explained Archibald.
“The fairest way to sell homes is on a first come, first served basis.”
“It’s not an easy way, but it is the fairest way to do it,” he said, noting there has been an “unprecedented” demand for homes at Kingsley Estates, in a housing market that’s already facing a “severe lack of supply.”
Brooke said she had been on an email list to receive sales updates from Polygon.
But now that people have jumped what many thought to be a queue of sorts, Brooke said she’ll look elsewhere as she tries to help her adult daughter enter the market.
“I’m so done with Polygon. I wouldn’t trust them, so maybe I’ll look elsewhere,” said Brooke.
Tyler Friesen — a 32-year-old father of two, who grew up in Steveston — felt shut out in a similar way.“Being on the mailing list means nothing when they go ahead and sell all the 30 units in phase one to the people who lined up without ‘any prior notice’ all at the same time...hmmm,” wrote Friesen, to the News.
Nearby resident Penny Charlebois emailed the News, stating she didn’t believe Polygon’s explanation as to what happened (the company posted signs indicating the 30 units were sold).
“Just another sad story in this crazy housing market,” wrote Charlebois.
Another nearby resident, Gordon Bird, who was thinking about downsizing from his Westwind detached home where he’s lived since 1971, also expressed frustration.
“I found it very annoying,” said Bird.
“Local people are not getting these opportunities,” said Bird, who is hoping to stay living in or around the same neighbourhood.
“I registered on Polygon and then as it was getting more developed, I phoned; then they sent me another marketing email. When I phoned, all they give you is an advertising recorded message. I left my number and no return, no response. And then I get this email,” said Bird, referring to an email Polygon sent to those who were registered, indicating the 30 units were sold.
“I had no idea what they’d sell for. I was just curious to see them,” said Bird.
Archibald said 91 units remain to be sold.
“I’d still go and look for sure. But it’s the principle that bothered me,” said Bird.
Units begin at $1.2 million for four bedrooms (1,700 square-foot ).
Polygon bought the land from the Richmond School District for $41 million. It is building a $3.3 million childcare centre, as part of a “density bonus” agreement with the City of Richmond. London-Steveston secondary school park absorbed 4.5 acres in the deal.
Polygon will also ensure, via the city’s affordable housing strategy, that 12 of the 133 units are “affordable,” meaning subsidized three-bedroom units for low-income families will cost about $1,500 to rent monthly.