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HomeBusinessExclusive: Vancouver luxury real estate firms got pandemic payroll subsidy

Exclusive: Vancouver luxury real estate firms got pandemic payroll subsidy

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Bob Mackin

One of Vancouver’s top real estate developers is listed in the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy database after reporting almost $3.2 million in government assistance during 2020.

Shannon Wall Centre Kerrisdale (Rennie)

Wall Financial’s quarterly report, through Oct. 31, disclosed $2.8 million during the first nine months of the year, $392,000 after the quarter and it was waiting for an additional $360,000 to be approved.

The Trudeau Liberal government’s Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy was the country’s main pool of pandemic payroll relief. More than $59 billion has been paid out since last spring, including $6.8 billion in B.C. Eligible employers can receive up to $847-per employee, per-week if revenue fell 15% or more on a year-over-year basis.

In December, Canada Revenue Agency launched a database listing names (but not the dollar amounts received) of most of the 386,000 successful applicants, including Wall Financial.

Wall Financial told shareholders that revenue for the period plummeted from 2019’s $443 million to $83.57 million. It sold only two units at Shannon Wall Centre Kerrisdale through the end of October 2020, after closing 240 sales a year earlier. President Bruno Wall did not respond for comment. 

Other local real estate companies in the CEWS database include:

  • Angell, Hasman and Associates Realty Ltd. and Angell, Hasman and Associates (Malcolm Hasman) Realty Ltd.

    West Vancouver seaside mansion with a helipad (Malcolm Hasman)

  • CondominiumsOnly.com division of Rennie and Associates Realty Ltd.
  • Dracco Holdings Ltd. (Dracco Pacific Realty)
  • Pan Pacific Platinum Real Estate Services Inc. (LeHomes Realty)
  • 1135233 B.C. Ltd. (LeHomes Realty Premier)
  • Nu Stream Realty Inc.
  • Oakwyn Realty Ltd.
  • Team 3000 Realty Inc.

None of the above responded to theBreaker.news, which wanted to know how many jobs each company saved and the dollar figures for the subsidies they received.

Despite the economy hitting a sudden wall in the springtime, the region’s real estate industry rebounded in spectacular fashion by Christmas.

The website for West Vancouver luxury specialist Angell, Hasman and Associates (Malcolm Hasman) Realty Ltd. heralds “over $200 million listed and sold in 2020.”

The British Columbia Real Estate Association reported almost 94,000 residential unit sales in 2020, up 21.5% from 2019’s 77,350. B.C.’s average residential price rose 11.7% to $782,000 and total sales volume jumped 35.6% to $73.5 billion.

“Housing markets across the province staged a remarkable recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic and recession,” said BCREA chief economist Brendon Ogmundson.

Dracco’s Layla Yang (Twitter)

Andrew Carros, COO of Engel and Völkers Vancouver, did not say how many jobs were subsidized or how much his Kerrisdale firm received.

“That subsidy probably saved everybody’s job,” Carros said. “The dominos could’ve fallen quite differently if things didn’t bounce back. We were fortunately a lot luckier than a lot of other industries out there. I feel pretty blessed, but I feel bad for those other businesses that are struggling today.”

It was a different story in the rental side of the business. Wallis Lee, managing broker of Sutton Max Realty and Property Management, said the $78,000 received over three months kept the eight-person property rental office working. She said the company became busier because it unfortunately shifted toward collections.

“When people cannot pay the rent it’s affecting us too. When we don’t receive the rent, we don’t have the commission,” Lee said. “Tough for our tenant, tough for our landlord, it’s not easy for us.”

Richmond real estate and immigration lawyer Hong Guo.

Guo Law Corporation, the Richmond real estate and immigration firm run by Hong Guo, is in the database. The 2018 Richmond mayoral candidate did not provide information about the jobs saved or money received.

Guo said she had 20 employees on staff in 2016 before a theft from her clients’ trust account, which is ultimately why she has a Law Society of B.C. misconduct disciplinary hearing in March. Guo said she now employs three.

“If the government can help the business to survive, I think the circle is good,” Guo said. “If the business can run, the employees can receive wages and salaries, they can then buy food, so their children can be fed. That is a healthy circle. We should encourage people to stay in work, and work hard.”

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