VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It might be a first in Vancouver, a new company has combined real estate and veganism.
Yashu Sharma and Eric Preston are your local Vegan Real Estate Team. Sharma speaks to NEWS 1130 about what they are trying to accomplish and whether or not we have now hit “peak Vancouver.”
Reporter: So the first question is pretty obvious, why vegan real estate?
Sharma: “So what Eric and I have been trying to mould into an industry is something a little more disruptive. In the era of real estate agents self-promoting and self-branding and everything being about them, we wanted to shift the focus more onto the consumers. Being vegans ourselves, and caring a lot about the ethical issues around veganism, we thought why not give something back?”
Reporter: Okay, but what does vegan real estate even mean?
Sharma: “At the heart of it, it’s us giving back to the community with our proceeds that we earn from real estate transactions. Finding properties that help support a lifestyle we find ethical is definitely part of the process. Obviously finding a home that is not made out of every single material you might not want as a vegan might not be possible, but we will definitely help with things like gardens, raised beds and microgreens in the home after the fact. It’s more about the proceeds we receive from transactions going back into those ethical issues.”
Reporter: How do you do that?
Sharma: “We reserve almost 10 per cent of net proceeds from every transaction that we get and put it into a bucket. Our sellers and buyers get to pick any charities that they deem fit. We have some preliminary partnerships with, for example, a ‘save a fox’ program and we are looking into ‘save a pig’ or ‘save a dog’ but at the end of the day we let our consumer decide where the proceeds funnel into. It’s up to them.”
Reporter: How did you get here? At what point did you and your partner get together and say “hey we should do this?”
Sharma: “We found a void in the market, mostly in the area of giving back to the community. You definitely see a lot of good real estate agents around the city and a lot of the good ones will even donate to particular causes, but we wanted to centre our value proposition around [veganism] because people know there’s a lot of money in real estate, but they don’t know how it can help benefit causes that they care about.”
Reporter: So is this the perfect city for vegan realty? I’ve had a few people tell me we just may have hit ‘peak Vancouver’ with the launch of your business.
Sharma: “It’s definitely quintessential Vancouver. That being said, there are tons of vegans everywhere and I think the biggest thing that we want to make sure that we don’t do is get in people’s faces. We are not trying to be annoying, we are not trying to say just because you don’t believe in a particular ethical issue that we care about that you are less than us.”
Reporter: What kind of reception are you getting?
Sharma: “It’s quite good. I think everyone looks at the logo and asks how those things fit together. It’s a good thing to bring up at parties for sure. At the end of the day we are not doing it so we can drum up more business. It’s really that our clients want to give back to particular causes. Having a niche is important and so is giving back to something we actually believe in.”
Reporter: How do you deal with any negative reaction to vegan realty? What happens when a home you’re selling has a leather couch?
Sharma: “At the end of the day, we can only sell what’s on the market, right? For us, some of the negative reception has been around people who are a little bit confused around the value proposition itself, seeing it as a way to drum up business. It’s about further conversation and being open about what we are doing and why we are doing it — not hiding from anything — and being receptive to feedback.”