Signs of Early Spring
February. Longer days, bursts of Winter mingled with signs of very early Spring. Snowdrops are out, camellias budding, early rhododendrons in bloom, daffodils in bloom…early Spring is an energizing time on the great Pacific Northwest Coast and Salt Spring is a part of this…watch Nature unfurl.
Market projections? Low listing inventory continues to be the main feature of the Salt Spring, Gulf Islands, and Vancouver Island marketplaces. There appears to be renewed buyer desire, and in all property types/price categories.
It remains the case that it’s Vancouver sellers who become the main buyers in all the secondary home areas…including on Salt Spring.
Thin inventory coupled with buyer interest usually results in price increases…buyers always set the pace in a real estate market trend.
It’s a good idea to wait for final thoughts until we see the provincial government’s February budget…will there be further measures to suppress real estate markets in Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo, Kelowna?
It was the provincial government’s 2018 February budget’s taxation measures that suppressed real estate sales in the above mentioned four areas…between late February 2018 and October 2019 sales activity was correspondingly slow in the secondary home markets, too.
For Salt Spring and the Southern Gulf Islands, the outcomes in Vancouver’s market are still the statistics that strongly influence sales here.
Geopolitical Events Influence
Geopolitical events influence all markets…one cannot ignore big picture happenings. That would include world health issues.
Marshall McLuhan predicted the “global village” scenario back in the 1970s…the same decade that saw the creation of the Islands Trust, by the then provincial government.
The result of the Islands Trust form of governance for the Gulf Islands was to cap growth. The mandate of this government body was “to preserve and protect” the environmental beauties of the Gulf Islands for the benefit of all B.C. residents.
Intentions More Narrowly Interpreted
Over time, the original strict zoning/bylaws have been more narrowly interpreted. Growth has been controlled. This means, over time and beyond market trends, that the Gulf Islands will end by being places that one will have to be able to afford. They are basically parks. Inventory will remain low because of the Trust’s non-growth policies.
The Islands Trust remains the form of governance for Salt Spring and the majority of Gulf Islands. These islands are governed by the provincial government’s Islands Trust body. Two trustees are elected per island, at the civic election time (4 year terms). Planners maintain the official community plan (OCP), and guide the elected officials. On Salt Spring, there is also an elected CRD (Capital Regional District) director…again, the CRD is mainly focused on Victoria issues. Who is really in charge for the Southern Gulf Islands (included in the CRD)?
After a two year study on governance models, with all such models retaining the two elected trustees and the overall Trust documents, Salt Spring voted (63%) in September 2017 to retain the current 1974 model…. The idea behind the two year study: to see if Salt Spring would become a Gulf Islands special style of municipal structure…along the lines of Bowen Island. Trust remained, but off island planners replaced by local councillors. This outcome was strongly voted down on Salt Spring.
Salt Spring offers all services/amenities for a pleasing lifestyle and it also offers excellent transportation options (3 different ferry routes, 2 regular sked floatplanes). There’s a hospital plus 3 elementary, a middle, and a senior school. An indoor pool and several health/wellness opportunities. An Arts Centre (ArtSpring) is an important creative hub on the Island. Sustainable farming is featured (vineyards, wineries, olive groves, cheese-makers, craft brewery, cideries, farmers markets). Salt Spring is a seasonless experience and offers a true year-round stand-alone lifestyle. It is easily accessible to major centres and yet is wonderfully apart. More information? Call me!
As we enter this very beginning of February,
- there are 87 residential listings on Salt Spring, priced between 349,000 and 6,688,900
- Forty-two of these residential listings are listed over one million.
- There are 78 land only listings, priced between 139,000 and 2,495,000.
As soon as one defines a property search by price and type, it is immediately clear that inventory is extremely low. There have been 8 “solds to date”in 2020, ranging from 156,000 to 1,748,800.
Although genuinely seasonless…buyers are always around…the main grid of sales activity does tend to fall between March Break (mid-March) and the Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend (mid-October) for all coastal secondary home markets.
February: let’s enjoy the early spring side of this leap-year month. Seedy Saturday weekend will inspire your gardening ideas. The Family Day Weekend, mid-month, is a moment of reconnections. Time to rediscover hiking/walking trails? Time to do a little forest bathing? Time to remember February’s homage to romance? Whatever the scenario: enjoy!