Toronto-Based PropTech Company Ventures West, Taking On Vancouver’s Condo Industry
Vancouver’s condo development world has taken a page from Toronto’s book on the proptech front.
A game-changing technology from Toronto’s ADHOC STUDIO — the company’s proprietary web-based sales management software, Blackline — has made its way to British Columbia (BC).
Creating a growing buzz among developers throughout North America, Blackline, first launched in 2019, allows for the sale of real estate anywhere, any time. Serving as an end-to-end sales platform, the app consolidates all the essentials: floorplans; view photography; and neighbourhood info — in one location. Features include sales presentations, inventory management, real-time updates, analytics, floor plan comparison, suite reservations, and more.
In 2021, BC-based Intracorp — one of the most reputable developers in the country — launched a shiny new condo project with Blackline, giving the local industry something to talk about.
“Before [launch], nobody had seen anything like that in the Vancouver market,” says ADHOC founder Tim Ng. “We’ve taken the process about how people shop for a condo in Toronto — or reserve units — over to Vancouver, and it’s already changing the industry in BC.”
Ng highlights how condos have historically been launched differently on the west coast than Toronto. “In Toronto, we rely a lot on realtors to sell projects. In BC, in the last 3-4 years, projects have also started to heavily utilize realtors. Now, Blackline has enabled developers to have a platform to support the move to using more realtors in BC.”
The Blackline platform is built around using realtors, he explains. “It enables realtors to get all of the information — the floor plans, amenities, the neighbourhood information, the views – and then, they are able to reserve units online. Before Blackline, online suite reservations were very rare.”
Ng says Blackline is gaining quick momentum on the west coast; a truth that’s undoubtedly propelled by its adoption by such a large and influential developer as Intracorp. Ng says that the top developers in BC have reached out to inquire about Blackline, and request demos.
(And it’s not just on the west coast that Blackline’s picked up quick traction: “We saw it adopted quickly in Toronto, too,” says Ng.)
The shake-up of “business as usual” in Vancouver was a needed one, Ng explains. He highlights how Metro Vancouver condo projects have been getting taller with larger unit counts in recent years. Logistically, this called for a re-evaluation of business practices, with an inevitable focus on technology.
“When you’re dealing with such a high volume of units, you really need a digital transformation because you need to automate the process,” says Ng. “When you get to 400 units, you have to find a way to automate your deal flow so you don’t have 15-20 people working at the sales centres.”
Barrett Sprowson, VP of sales at Intracorp, says Blackline has both helped how the company fine-tunes its inventory, and has made life easier for realtors.
“Pre-Blackline, one of the challenges we had as a developer was maintaining a level of control over our inventory,” said Sprowson. “We would allocate a number of homes to realtors for seven days; at the end of that time, the realtor could still ‘hang on to them’ if they needed more time, and there wasn’t a real tool to either maintain that availability, take it away, re-allocate it ,or change the price because you have some spreadsheet floating around with numbers on it. What we found with Blackline, was when those seven days were up; they’re up.”
With Blackline, Intracorp was able to easily update information on the platform after the seven days.
According to Sprowson, Intracorp already had a transparent framework for realtors to access their homes with their Intracorp Insider Realtor Program. “Blackline offered a way to more efficiently, more equitably, and with greater transparency provide access to these realtors to access the inventory so they could see in real-time what was going on with the homes that they were allocated,” said Sprowson. “It helped us as a platform to extend our relationship with realtors and provide them with convenient real-time information. If realtors wanted to access changing information, all they had to do was refresh Blackline.”
Of course, Blackline — and its offering a remote platform for realtors to do business anywhere — became a particularly attractive option at the onset of the pandemic for developers of varying sizes.
The pandemic has indeed also served as a catalyst for Blackline’s success, acknowledges Ng. With business booming (and showing no signs of slowing), Blackline now facilitates over 60% of new Greater Toronto Area (GTA) condo launches – with a growing presence throughout North America.
Cover image: Shutterstock
This article was produced in partnership with STOREYS Custom Studio.