By Connie Jeske Crane

In Scarborough, Ont., new condo owner Ricardo Cummings exemplifies a new breed of driver – and one who poses some new challenges for real estate professionals. When he moved into his unit in 2018 (after a pre-construction purchase in 2013), Cummings outfitted his sparkling new digs with furniture, art and tableware, and he also bought a premium parking stall for $35,000.

“The developer had four units available for sale – out of about 200 spaces in total – that were ‘EV ready,’” says Cummings. The stalls were roughed-in during construction and already board-approved.



Ricardo Cummings
Ricardo Cummings

Besides shelling out $13,000 more than he’d have paid for regular parking, plus $500 for an EV (electric vehicle) charging solution called Signature Electric, Cummings says he faced some waiting time for final approvals (as the condo board got up to speed). But he now enjoys the ability to “fuel up” his 2018 VW e-Golf at home.

“Despite the tedious process and the cost involved in the installation of a charger station, I would do it again,” says Cummings, citing not only ecological benefits and convenience but also considerable savings on fuel. “The price I pay for a full charge compared to a full tank of gasoline is $4 versus $40.”

Have you worked with clients like Cummings yet? In Canadian hotspots for EV adoption (including Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec), industry observers say we’re about to see a lot more eco-friendly buyers like Cummings, intent on amenities like onsite EV charging.

So how can Realtors prepare for the future? To learn more, we talked to representatives in several Canadian locations.

The first thing to note is, many real estate professionals are not seeing the EV trend revving up – yet. “Everyone knows that’s where we’re heading, but it’s really going to take some time,” says Bonnie Meisels, a real estate broker with Keller Williams in Montreal and a certified LEED Green Associate. “I think it’s a great advantage, but I don’t see a buyer yet saying. ‘Oh I’m not going to buy this house because it doesn’t have an EV charging station.’”

In plain numbers, EV sales account for only a fraction of vehicle sales today (3.3 per cent in 2019 Q2, according to Electric Mobility Canada). At the same time though, we’re seeing a slow-but-steady embrace of EVs. Fleetcarma’s 2018 Q3 EV update says that during the past five years, EV sales increased more than 66 per cent per year. And in early 2019, Electric Mobility Canada reported another milestone – more than 100,000 EVs are now driving on Canadian streets.

Surveys reveal that we Canadians are pretty open-minded. According to a 2019 poll by Clean Energy Canada, “Most (64 per cent) say that if it were up to them, electric cars would become the majority of vehicles that consumers drive at some point…”

To sum up, it’s fair to say that in the short term consumers are deterred by barriers like vehicle cost and limited battery range. Yet as those barriers are removed, analysts predict a tipping point. For example, in February 2019, considering major automakers’ greatly enhanced EV products for 2020, one CBC report concluded, “With the upcoming crop of improved electric vehicles, however, the market could be poised for a shift.”

Accommodating buyers

So how to prepare for tomorrow’s EV-loving eco-friendly buyers? With strong government incentives, activism and above-average EV adoption, Vancouver is a great place to ask Realtors more about the finer points.

Willo Jackson
Willo Jackson

Willo Jackson, a representative at The Ruth and David Group, already works with plenty of EV owners. In Vancouver, she says the EV buyer group has traditionally been wealthy and/or youthful but is growing more diverse. Even if clients don’t drive EVs yet, Jackson says, “It’s mentioned in probably half of my buyer meetings now. People aren’t necessarily needing it with their current cars, but it’s on people’s minds.”

It’s all about home charging, which is a key must-have for EV owners. As Meisels says, “Having it at home while you’re sleeping, nothing beats the convenience of that.” As for the real estate buying process, Meisels says it all starts with budget. Can clients afford detached, new condo construction or older product?

Jackson says that with detached housing, to accommodate charging you’re tracking down homes with off-street parking and nearby power sources; 240-volt service will accommodate faster Level 2 EV chargers and allow buyers to avoid costly electrical upgrades and delays.

If buyers can afford newer condos, Meisels says it’s not as difficult to find developments with onsite EV charging in Montreal.

“These LEED buildings, or some of the more luxury condo buildings, are just building that way now.” With older buildings, she says, you have to hunt. “I’ve come across buildings where it’s been added as a feature in the garage. But that’s case by case. It has to go up to the syndicate, it has to get voted on.”

In Vancouver, Jackson says, “I’m definitely steering people towards newer product, because the newer the building the better the electrical systems they have in place and the less bylaw-heavy the council is.” (Condo councils, Jackson says, are not always keen to approve EV charging stations due to concerns over liability, maintenance and disruption).

“If buyers are entry level and we’re only looking at older buildings, then it’s a lot of work. I have to physically read the bylaws, contact the property manager, get things in writing, it’s very, very challenging to get everything as proof prior to writing an offer, or lodging a deposit.” Jacksons says it’s helpful for Realtors to keep a good running list of EV-friendly older buildings. “Whenever I come upon an older building that is talking about (adding charging stations) in their minutes, I get very excited and I log that building in my mind.”

Proactive steps

To further ensure you’re ready to assist EV owners, Jackson’s advice is to keep on top of EV industry news and legislation, technology and associated costs and rebates. (See below for resources.)

Another step she recommends to so-inclined Realtors is industry advocacy. “I’m pushing forward with my real estate board to include EV charging as one of the detail options on MLS. I want it to be a searchable feature… I have enough buyers who want it. So I see that as a need.”

Finally, Jackson, who blogs about environmental issues and EV-related news, encourages real estate salespeople to develop an authentic niche for themselves around these issues and connect with youthful, engaged clients. “I’ve gotten many calls over the years just because of these blog posts… I think these are great talking points and it’s one way to create a little niche for yourself as a professional.”

Selected EV resources
  • Association des Véhicules Électriques du Québec provides information and arranges e-mobility promotion events with partners, Nissan Canada and Intact Insurance.
  • Canadian Automobile Association’s Electric Vehicle Portal includes information about vehicles on the market, cross-country charging stations and government incentives for EVs and EV charging stations.
  • Electric Mobility Canada is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of e-mobility.
  • Electric Vehicle Association of Alberta is a non-profit dedicated to promoting the adoption of EVs and charging infrastructure in Alberta
  • Plug’n Drive (Ontario-based) is a non-profit organization that promotes electric cars; among its programs and services, Plug’n Drive offers news, information (about vehicles, used vehicles, condo charging) on its website and a drop-in test-drive zone in Toronto.
  • Plug In BC is a program of the Fraser Basin Council that collaborates with government, industry, academic institutions, EV owners, NGOs and utilities to advance the uptake of electric vehicles in B.C.; acts as a central source for EV information.
  • Toronto Electric Vehicle Association is a local not-for-profit organization committed to electric transportation advocacy, education and innovation.
  • Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association is a non-profit organization that promotes the use of electric vehicles.

23 COMMENTS

  1. Electric vehicles are environmentally friendly to drive only…for their first three or four years of ownership. They are environmentally unfriendly to produce and thence to get rid of once their useful lives are over. Their battery ranges drop by 50% in cold weather. One need only question honest, knowledgeable people in the business of selling new cars to get the facts. By the way, there are hundreds of unsold new Tesla’s piled up at a storage compound in western Toronto; they have been there for well over a year, covered in dirt, grime, bird droppings etc. They’re not selling like the media would have you believe. They simply aren’t what they’re cracked up to be. My neighbour has one, and he hardly ever drives it any more now that the novelty has worn off. He can’t drive willy-nilly on a long range trip. It’s virtually worthless as a used vehicle. No one buys them used because their batteries are likely due for replacement at mega-thousands of $$$. He’s back to old faithful, a gas burner, which, by the way, is over 90% more efficient/less pollution spewing than a 1960’s vehicle. They’re getting cleaner by the year. My 2018 Honda Accord 1.5 liter/turbo gas burner generates almost 200 H.P. and, achieved 4.7 liters per hundred kilometers/60 miles per gallon on a trip to British Columbia this past September, air conditioner on all the way. The car cost a fraction of a Tesla’s price. I could not have driven an electric car across Canada in the first place, let alone in three days.

    Maybe in twenty years electric vehicles will be economically and realistically viable. In the meantime they make good in-city short term drivers…if one can afford one. The total per kilometer/per mile cost of ownership of an electric vehicle (including purchase price and depreciation factors) far exceeds that of a high quality conventional vehicle. Gas expenditures are swallowed up/offset by the depreciation factor of a electric vehicle against its exorbitant purchase price. Electric vehicles are, so far, economically not feasible. The few that are currently on the road have no measurable effect on the planet’s well-being, except when being produced and destroyed.

    • Maybe they are piling up because many people cancelled their order after the cancellation of the Ontario rebate. By any chance, can you post a link to that Tesla “pile”. I am curious because I am in the middle of researching an EV for myself.

      • Hi Sabine:

        There is no link, just first hand knowledge. My good friend, a retired auto mechanic, drives for Honda, picking up new cars at the aforementioned compound. He sees the Tesla’s sitting out there personally when he goes there regularly to pick up Hondas for delivery to our local Honda dealership. As well, simply ask salespeople at dealerships about their hybrid models. If they are honest, they will steer you away from them.

        It’s a sad state when few will buy an electric vehicle unless the government gets involved with a big rebate. Electric vehicles should sell by the boatload on their own merit, but they don’t…because they are without economic merit. So far, considering their current technology, they are simply a left wing elitist bragging thing. Wait for a few more years before throwing your money away in order to appear to be green.

        • Follow up to my Jan. 3, 2020 5:48 p.m. post:

          Hybrid vehicles are also typically poorer regarding fuel consumption when driving above 50-60 km. per hour, and thus, on the highway. Check the fuel consumption numbers on the subject vehicles’ window stickers. They are only better in city driving when they typically run mostly on the low-powered electric motors. You will see them advertised as achieving 60 M.P.G./4.7 liters/ 100 km. city, but, less, often much less, highway driving. My friend and another driver drove a 2019 Honda Accord like mine and a 2019 Honda Celerity hybrid together from Ottawa to Peterborough. The Accord gas-burner non-hybrid used less fuel.

          I owned a 2017 Honda Civic LX before purchasing my 2018 Accord. I checked out the Toyota Prius hybrid before buying the Civic. The Prius was advertised as achieving 60 M.P.G. city, and only 52 M.P.G. highway. My Civic achieved 64 M.P.G. highway on a trip to B.C. It achieved over 40 M.P.G. city driving. If you drive primarily in the city, then a hybrid might be a good bet, but don’t forget to factor in the high purchase price and poor value retention rates when calculating only fuel savings. You can burn a lot of gas in lieu of those offsetting economic high purchase price/low trade-in value disadvantages.

          The above figures are gleaned from real life applications/industry-offered stats and not from advertisements designed to influence buyers to purchase.

          Something to think about.

      • Ignore this guy he’s spewing BS. When you order a Tesla you have to wait a few weeks to get it since demand is so great. Ask where this parking lot he speaks of in Toronto is. You do lose some range in the winter but not close to 50%. I’ve gone on road trips to Belleville, Kilarney provincial park l, prince Edward county with my Standard Range Plus which is the second shortest range Tesla offers. No issues. His comment about them being worse for the environment is also complete bs. Over the full life of a car it’s not even close. EVs are way way better for the environment. The only situations you could argue it would be a bad thing is if you had a brand new gas car and then bought a brand new EV and then took your gas car to the dump.

    • Just before someone is misled, almost everything Martin has said here is incorrect.

      Tesla is selling more EVs than any other manufacturer by a huge margin. Simple facts to look up. There’s a reason for that.

      Bloomberg survey showed 98% customer satisfaction with Tesla, so Martin’s neighbour is the small exception.

      EVs are cleaner than gas cars. The additional CO2 emitted from the production is saved after about one year of driving. The emissions are far less, especially in provinces with clean power but even in Alberta. Google “UCS electric vehicles” for a lifecycle analysis.

      EV batteries last the lifetime of the vehicle. They are not expected to need replacement before the car is worn out.

    • Your fuel economy numbers are incorrect a 2018 Honda Accord gets 30 combined MPG and a 2020 Tesla Model 3 gets 141 combined MPGe. Source is http://www.fueleconomy.gov the official US gov site for fuel economy information. You may have done better based on your driving habits but when comparing apples to apples it’s not even close .

      Also could you provide the address of this parking lot of Tesla’s collecting dust so people can check this out for themselves?

      Disclosure- Don’t work for Tesla. Do own a model 3.

      • Mike:

        Here is some more “bs” from “this guy”..

        The “parking lot” is the Brampton Auto Mall where used car dealers bid on used cars to put on their lots for sale. Question: Why are there so many used Tesla’s still sitting there? Seems the dealers don’t want to even bid on them. I wonder why? Answer: There is no viable used car market for them. They’ve only been on the road in some numbers for a couple of years as of now. If they’re so good, why have they been traded in already? Maybe you can provide an answer.

        You are quoting U.S. fuel mileage numbers. Add 20% for Canadian imperial gallon values. Then add another 20% to 30% for careful driving habits. The absolute best mileage achievable is what counts, not what hot-rodding lead foots ‘don’t’ achieve.

        I am not saying electric vehicles won’t some day be the way forward. I am saying now is not the way to go for an electric vehicle if one cannot afford the purchase price, if one cannot drive on a preplanned route in order to not get caught with a dead battery and nowhere nearby to charge up again within fifteen minutes via a 240 volt system, etc. One is restricted when driving an electric vehicle. It is like being in prison in a manner of speaking. One can go here or there, but not there, or over there etc. due to there not being enough charging stations as there are gas stations. When there are, charge-ups will not be inexpensive. The infrastructure will have to be built, and exponentially more electricity will have to be generated. None of it will be inexpensive.

        When I can buy an electric vehicle equal in value to my Honda, at the same price, and I can charge up within fifteen minutes anywhere, similar to finding the closest gas station, after driving for 1,000 kilometers, for much less cost than gas, and when I trade it in I get a similar trade-in price as the Honda, then I will be in. That day is likely twenty years away.

        BTW: Google “The Five Major Challenges Facing Electric Vehicles” by Professor Tim Schwanen, Transport Studies Unit, Oxford University, September 19, 2019, and “Tesla Model 3 Loses C.R. (Consumer Reports) Recommendation Over Reliability Issues” by Patrick Olsen, Consumer Reports, November 14, 2019.

        Key in on statements like “Electric vehicles are no panacea re CO 2 emissions” due to the byproduct of CO 2 produced by the extraction process of obtaining mineral/materials used to make the batteries and thence destroy them when their useful lifespan is over. So far we don’t know the actual in-service life span of these batteries because the vehicles have not been in use long enough to establish a benchmark life span. It’s not all roses my friend as the ads and electric vehicle producers would have us believe. Everyone says how great their new vehicles are after having purchased them. They have to justify their purchase after all. Let’s wait and see what they say after ten years of ownership. There just may be plenty of thorns in them thar rose bushes.

        Last questions: Why do folks like you and Leo not comment under you real full names, and why do you get personal with your put downs? This is a debate after all, not a slug-it-out, knock-’em-down let’s-destroy-that-bastard brawl. Hmmm….I think I just answered my own question.

    • Correction:

      I made an unintentional incorrect statement within my January 3, 2020 at 11:22, post.

      Fourth line down: “By the way, there are hundreds of unsold new Tesla’s piled up…etc.” should read:

      “By the way, there are many unsold used Tesla’s piled up…etc.”

      My friend, who picks up cars at the Brampton Auto Mall compound so described (who initially provided the firsthand information to me about the Tesla’s) did not clarify with me that the Tesla’s were actually used, nor the exact number of same, until I queried him about that after I wrote the said Jan. 3 post. My apologies for providing that particular incorrect information.

      Note: There currently is no viable used Tesla market, which would seem to explain their abandoned plight at the Brampton Auto Mall.

  2. I’ve been leasing an EV since June 2018. It’s actually great for business and is quite the conversation starter when meeting a client at a first showing. Most buyers find it fascinating and ask me several questions. For now, the easiest path for EV driving Buyers is a home with a garage to house the 240v charger.

    • Can you tell me what you are driving ? I am sort of between the Kona and the Niro right now. Not sure if I want to do the Tesla plunge.

      • Hi Sabine,

        Niro and Kona are good choices. Major advantage that Tesla has is much faster charging and a much better charging network in most places. So Tesla is feasible to take a road trip in because a 15 min charge can add hundreds of km whereas with a Kona, Niro, or Nissan Leaf you are waiting a lot longer.

        And of course Tesla has a cooler image and higher tech features if you want to use it as a sales vehicle. The one caution I have there though is that the Model 3 is quite low so may not be the best for carrying clients around.

        By the way don’t listen to what Brian Martindale says above almost everything he said is factual incorrect. There’s a reason 60% of electric vehicles sold in Canada are Tesla’s. Currently they make the most capable all round EV.

        • Hi Leo:

          Are you a Tesla salesperson, or a Tesla employee? Do you own a Tesla?

          At least I divulge my ownership of a Honda.

          How many Tesla’s were sold in Canada last year?

          Please explain, factually, with evidence, where I was wrong, especially my personal stats. How do you explain away the fact that I achieved 60 M.P.G. on a road trip across Canada?

          Are you insinuating that I am lying?

          BTW, the sticker on a Honda Accord LX says highway fuel consumption is only in the 45 plus M.P.G. range, yet I achieved 60. It’s all in how one drives the vehicle, and at what speed. I never broke 60 M.P.H./96 kilometer per hour on the trip out west, and I never floored it. I drive as if there is a raw egg between my foot and the go pedal.

          My car lists at about $27,000. I only paid $21,900 though due to a year end sales promotion. How much does the comparably-sized Tesla list at? is it something like $80,000, more or less? I hear Tesla is bringing out a much smaller and cheaper model at around $38,000. That’s $11,000 more than the larger Accord’s list price. That’s a lot of discretionary gas money, and Honda, Toyota, or most other high quality gas-burning brands keep their residual values exponentially better than the Tesla or any other electric or hybrid vehicles.

          I stand by my assertion that electric and hybrid vehicles are so far not feasible economically, all things considered. If this was not true, I would own one.

          As for saving the planet, it will always be here. Things will change, as they always have. Driving a hybrid or electric vehicle will do absolutely nothing for the climate, but it will make the owner of one feel better about one’s personal carbon footprint…amongst 7.5 billion others. Buying one to impress customers and clients though is strictly a mercenary reason to do so.

      • I’m driving a Kia Soul and the 2020 model now has a 400km range. My 2018 is only 200km in warmer weather and 139 in sub zero weather. I’m actually looking at doing a mid lease upgrade, not for work actually, mainly for ski trips.

        • Hi JML:

          Thanks for honestly providing actual real life stats re your vehicle. There ‘are’ suitable applications for hybrid and electric vehicles. It looks like you have found at least one such app.

  3. Great read thank you for all of the excellent detail and links!
    I think EVs are great, and I love the way they drive.

  4. Need to know more about these e cars and how they would work as daily drivers in Rural areas of Nova Scotia

  5. So far no details on how the batteries will work at 30 & 40 below on the prairies . Also would like some factual answers on how long is the lifespan of the batteries & what does it cost to replace them ???

    • There are number of website, FB pages and blogs that have more information. Pure EVs have made it through at least 2 winters already. Maybe an Alberta site gives you some more answers. Extreme temperatures will cut down on the mileage for sure, but there are always hybrids as an alternative

    • They are fine at 30 or 40 below, but you do want to plug them in at those temperatures just like you would plug in any car.
      Range will be down about 25-40% in the dead of winter due to the energy going into heating the cabin. So a modern EV with 400km of range would get perhaps 240 in the dead of winter but it depends on a lot of factors.

      Nice thing about EVs is that you just set them to preheat in the morning so at -40 you get into a nice toasty cabin without needing to idle your vehicle.

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