It’s not every day that a potential buyer hears a sales pitch from the developer behind a condo project.

Chard Development CFO Byron Chard is selling Ed Adams on his company’s latest project, the Vivid at the Yates.

“So, it’s a good opportunity, especially as you work in Victoria.  I’m assuming to be here long term,” Chard said to Adams.

“So, it kind of helps people my age instead of competing with out-of-town buyers,” Adams said.

The Vivid at the Yates is a project with a difference. Buyers household income must be below $150,000. But the units are priced eight per cent below market value.

“So they have to live in it, reside in it for two years. Then they are able to rent it,” Chard said. “Or to sell at market value.  So, essentially we’re helping them lower the barriers of entry into this difficult market at this time.  And really, facilitating them to move up on the housing continuum.”

Living in Victoria is expensive, and it’s one of the priciest cities in the country. There are hundreds of condos under construction in the downtown core, but prices keep climbing.

As of August, according to the Victoria Real Estate Board, the average price of a condo is almost $415,000. That’s up 23 per cent in a year. Far out of reach for many Victorians according to realtor Tony Zarsadias with the Condo Group.

“I think the people who it’s best for are the people who planned on buying but were a little slow to get into the market,” Zarsadias said. “Or slow to get organized. You know, because the market really took off in the last 18 months.”

B.C. Housing is financing construction which starts in October.

“Because we have 100 per cent financing from BC Housing, as well we are going to achieve 100 per cent pre-sales, it essentially it lowers our risk,” Chard said. “And thus, our reward is also lowered.”

And it may be a new way for buyers previously priced out, to get into a hot real estate market.

“I think there is, there is a lot of appetite for it. But again, it’s a new product. It’s kind of like the first hybrid car. When it first launched, was there a market,” Zarsadias said. “It created a market, but there wasn’t one before.”

But critics say that this does not address the housing affordability crisis.  That if you can afford to get into a $275,000 to $550,000 apartment, then you could probably afford the extra eight per cent.

As for pricing at the Vivid at the Yates, they start at $275,000 and range up to $550,000. And sales start in a few weeks.

Mary Griffin