Surrey Central saw the success of urban redevelopment in other Vancouver suburbs and followed the same model - rezone the area around a Skytrain station and densify it with condo towers. This approach has breathed new life into the community and helped it to clean up its image.
"This area was not one of the best areas where people bought houses,” Kundhal explains. “It wasn't their first choice. Now it's one of the prime locations in Surrey."
With its close proximity to restaurants, shopping, the public library and Surrey City Hall, Surrey Central is a neighbourhood on the rise. To match that population growth, the city is building a mix of high-rises, low-rises and townhomes, perfect for first-time buyers.
"The City of Surrey is focusing on more residential units,” says Kundhal. “The priority isn't commercial units because people who work can take the Skytrain downtown. Plus a lot of developers are making it very convenient for residents to work from home."
A world away from Surrey Central (but actually just a short drive into Newton) is the family-friendly community of Bear Creek, named after both the local creek and a large park with the same name. You probably won’t find actual bears in the park, but you will find an outdoor pool, flower gardens, a skate park and a miniature train.
The area around the park mainly features single-family homes, many of which are on large lots. Kundhal says he sees a lot of interest in Bear Creek from families who have outgrown their townhomes and want something with more space.
"They love being in this area because everything is close by,” he says.” You're five minutes away from King George Station and you have access to the Surrey-Newton area, which is a hub of commercial businesses."
There’s high demand in Bear Creek so homeseekers need to move quickly if they spot a property they love. It’s worth mentioning that many homes here are built with additional units that can be used as mortgage helpers.
Our final stop in Surrey takes us to Sullivan Heights, also within the Newton area but further south than Bear Creek. This neighbourhood ticks the family-friendly box, with good-sized homes on large lots. But there’s more variety here - just across the street from a 5-bed property, you’ll find smaller 2- or 3-bed houses with price points to match.
Homeseekers with smaller budgets should also take note of new developments in the area. The city is increasing density in Sullivan by building townhomes on land that used to be reserved for single-family properties.
“What the city is trying to do is make the most out of the space they have available,” explains Kundhal.
Karan Kundhal knows Surrey well. He’s lived here for 20 years and has watched it change and grow into the exciting community it is today.
At the age of 19, he started working in sales, originally in the car industry before making the move into property. Although he describes himself as competitive, he’s the kind of guy who wants his clients to be happy with their purchase.
“Especially with first-time buyers,” he says. “They've been renting, they feel like all their payments are going to waste - it's like paying 100% interest. So it feels great when you end up helping them buy a property that has everything they're looking for. The possession day is my favourite in the whole process of selling a home."
It's all about seeing the smile on my clients face when I had them over the keys. It's just a beautiful feeling.
Agent’s Pick: One to three bed homes in the heart of Surrey
Silva Development in Newton
To show just how Newton is changing, Kundhal takes us to a showroom in the Wanson Group’s Silva Development.
The final phase of this master-plan project will complete in the next few years, but it’s halfway sold already. One reason for the pre-sale push is that Silva homes have a lot of square footage. You’re looking at upwards of 900 square feet for some of the properties, compared to around 700 square feet for most condos in the Surrey Central area.
"It's a very diverse community here,” Kundhal explains. “A lot of businesses, restaurants, there are trails, parks - everything is close by."
Everyone has something to say about Surrey but the more you chat to people, the more you realize an awful lot of those people have never actually been there for more than a fleeting visit!
I heard it all regarding Surrey’s past so I was going into this day of shooting ready for the worst. Needless to say you can imagine my surprise when the first community we visited was the beautiful Bear Creek. An abundance of facilities, green spaces and families playing and laughing. Definitely not the Surrey that I was prepared for.
As with most communities I visit during this series, Surrey surprised me. A clear example of not judging a book by its cover and the importance of informing one’s self. The Surrey I was met with was full of life, family and potential. Karan’s insight into his community and his own involvement in reshaping the Surrey narrative was particularly interesting. He has seen the changes happen in front of him and seems energized by what is to come. One thing is for certain, with Surrey as one of the fastest growing cities in Canada, this is a neighborhood you might want to be looking at right now!