RealTours is the breakthrough new series from REW.ca that brings you Canadian real estate like you’ve never seen it before. Join us as we embark on an adventure through the Lower Mainland’s most sought-after neighbourhoods, guided by British Columbia’s best realtors.
It’s not always easy being Surrey. BC’s second largest city has dealt with a tough reputation over the years, with many people in the Lower Mainland equating it with crime, drugs and gangs. But these outdated stereotypes are far from reality. Today, Surrey is a fast-growing city with beautiful scenery, incredible restaurants and a tight-knit sense of community.
From the rezoned and urbanized Surrey Central to the family-friendly Bear Creek, Vancouver’s largest suburb has a lot to offer homeseekers. The city is well connected with Skytrain and bus routes to other parts of the Lower Mainland. Plus it’s a short drive to the gorgeous beaches of South Surrey and White Rock, already featured in an earlier episode of RealTours.
Surrey’s history has shaped its culture today. It was incorporated in 1879 on land occupied by a number of indigenous groups, including the Semiahmoo, Katzie, and the Kwantlen peoples. In the 1980s and 1990s, the city saw huge population growth, with people from around the world, especially Asia, arriving to make a home here. Today, approximately 38 percent of the city’s inhabitants are of South Asian heritage.
Welcome to Newton
To get a sense of how big Surrey is, you can start with the fact that it has a whopping seven neighbourhoods that are all designated town centres: Cloverdale, Fleetwood, Guildford, South Surrey, Newton, Whalley and Surrey Central.
In this episode of RealTours, we’re going to focus on Newton with a side trip to the skyscrapers of Surrey Central, the downtown core of the city. This area is fully encompassed by the neighbourhood of Whalley, which borders Delta and the Fraser River to the west. That bad reputation we mentioned earlier? A lot of that came from Whalley around the turn of the millennium. But rezoning and redevelopment has created a revitalized urban hub with high-end condo towers attracting new residents and businesses.
Head south from Whalley and you’ll hit Newton, officially the most populous of Surrey’s town centres. Here you’ll find the sought-after communities of Bear Creek and Sullivan Heights, family-friendly neighbourhoods surrounded by parks and green spaces. Densification is happening here too, although more gently - think townhomes instead of towers.
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."
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Attribution: Find out what Surrey is really like with RealTours - rew.ca