John Sparrow
John Sparrow

Realtor John Sparrow has joined Harcourts Real Estate Vancouver as its first local Auction Accredited Agent serving Revelstoke, B.C. and the Okanagan.

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“John brings his general zest for life to the Okanagan and Harcourts,” says managing partner/owner Theo Birkner, who opened Harcourts Real Estate Vancouver along with managing partner/owner Greg Paddy 2017. The North Vancouver office is the only physical location.

“John lives in Revelstoke…He has been an active leader in the real estate industry throughout Western Canada for 33 years and has completed marketing and sales transactions in excess of $1 billion in sales,” says managing broker, director of growth and development Chantal Kowalski.

“As a Harcourts team we have been expanding our auction capabilities one agent at a time in Vancouver and area for four years or so….John is the first in the area who can provide the local experience that we value, as an Auction Accredited Harcourts agent.”

From left: Chantal Kowalski, Greg Paddy and Theo Birkner
From left: Chantal Kowalski, Greg Paddy and Theo Birkner

Birkner says Sparrow is not an auctioneer. He is an auction-accredited agent, having completed Harcourts’ intensive two-day accreditation program.

Live auctions are held online by chief auctioneer Ben Brady, director of Harcourts North America in California, who oversees U.S. and Canadian operations.

Although real estate auctions are not new and are a real estate staple in markets such as Australia and New Zealand, they’re not common in Canada. That’s what makes auctions “a tremendous conversation starter. It’s a great prospecting tool,” says Birkner.

Online auctions “put another arrow” in the Harcourts quiver. “It’s another story to tell, another option to make agents stand out with potential and existing clientele,” he says.

There’s lots to talk about and questions to answer. People have many misconceptions about auctions, he says. For example, people think that any property offered for auction is a distressed property. However Harcourts handles only luxury and non-distressed properties, he says.

Many people also think the seller has to sell no matter what the offer, but that’s not the case, Birkner says. (Properties have an undisclosed reserve price.)

The online auction process is transparent, with the auctioneer seen in real time and every bid listed for all to see. “It’s a live stream. There are no smoke and mirrors,” Birkner says.

Many potential buyers also believe that bids must be condition-free. However, Harcourts buyers register, then list their terms, which are pre-negotiated with the seller before the auction. That way buyers and sellers can concentrate on price on auction day.

Properties are typically on the market seven to 10 days prior to the auction to give potential buyers the chance to view the home.

Marrying the tradition of the auction and the technology of the day, Birkner says auctions are live streamed and bids can be placed from a computer, smart phone or even by telephone. “There are no accessibility issues. One property that sold in the spring had six bidders from four different cities.”

The auction system works well with unique properties, but a property doesn’t have to be special. For example, Kowalski says, if there are several similar units in the same tower, offering one by auction makes it stand out.

Harcourts Real Estate Vancouver has 11 agents and is looking for more to join the team, Kowalski says. “We are a full-service real estate and property management brokerage. We also offer luxury/non-distressed real estate auctions.”

The company provides training, professional development, auction training, business coaching and a great culture, she says. Harcourts has a global presence, offers cutting-edge technology and fosters a collaborative environment, she says. “We have a people first organizational structure.”


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