September on the Pacific Northwest Coast is often one of the most beautiful months. A lingering summer mixes with shorter days and a back-to-school rhythm. (I wonder how many of us still think of this month as the start of a “new year”?).
In real estate, for a market overview, I always designate a year as the month I’m in and then look back to the same month of the previous year. So…September 2016 to September 2017 is the “year” right now.
After an eight year downturn, due to the global economic collapses in 2008, Salt Spring’s secondary home market finally saw an up-trend begin in mid-March, 2016.
Most of these sudden buyers were from Vancouver, and had sold their properties there to mainly off-shore buyers. Between mid-March and end of July, a sales volume rise occurred…and prices began to stabilize.
Then: at beginning of August, 2016, the then provincial government brought in a 15% tax for off-shore buyers, for metro-Vancouver. This immediately cooled Vancouver’s market and also stopped Salt Spring’s recovery…the Vancouver sellers had become the buyers in the secondary home coastal markets.
Traditionally, August, September, October are busy sales months on Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands. In 2016, there was a pause in activity, due to the outcome of that Vancouver property purchase tax. The Gulf Islands did not see that usual busier Fall.
Then: the once-every-twenty-years La Niña “real winter” arrived, and between December 3 and May 15, the unseasonably cool weather kept property seekers and tourists away. This cold weather pattern affected the entire Pacific Northwest Coast.
The Spring Market did not take place in 2017, due to the weather pattern. It seems that this year’s rhythm has been six weeks late (both in nature and in real estate action). The summer market did not start up until mid-July, and did not really hit its stride until early August.
Although most sales remain residential and below 700,000 (most really below 600,000), prices have firmed up and inventory has thinned out. Sellers are often achieving their list price and back-up offers are becoming a feature.
Some few new listings have come on at higher price points, perhaps testing the market. Both undeveloped land sales and higher end residential offerings are also now slowly finding their buyers.
It may be, then, that the early spring market in 2018 will see a continued and stronger recovery in the coastal secondary home marketplaces. Meantime: the usual steady sales pattern of late summer/fall, on Salt Spring, is currently underway.
This monthly market report is written at the beginning of a month…updates as the month proceeds are found in my weekly blogs. At the end of August, then, sales on Salt Spring were:
- 1 at 95,000
- 19 between 112,500 & 199,500
- 20 between 200,000 & 299,000
- 24 between 305,000 & 396,000
- 36 between 400,000 & 489,000
- 28 between 500,000 & 599,000
- 13 between 605,000 & 690,000
- 12 between 700,000 & 770,000
- 10 between 800,000 & 899,000
- 2 between 900,000 & 945,250
- 21 between 1,000,000 & 1,900,000
- 4 between 2,200,000 & 2,500,000
Most buyers remain from Vancouver. A few Ontario buyers are also beginning to reappear. Our traditional Alberta and U.S. buyers are still not in evidence.
September also brings with it the referendum for Salt Springers to decide if the Island will become a Gulf Islands municipality (the Trust remains, with two elected trustees, and others would be elected to act as a mayor and council) or whether to remain “as is” (planners appointed from Victoria). Several years ago, Bowen Island chose this specialized type of Gulf Islands municipal structure.
September further brings with it the first legislature sitting of the new coalition provincial government. Both these parties suggested, in the last election, that the offshore property purchase tax should be brought in throughout B.C.
Hmmmm…outcomes in September, thus.
September is the harvest month…farmers markets and farmgate stands offer the largesse of the season. Fall Fair is a part of Salt Spring’s September pleasures. A reconfigured Sip & Savour will be enjoyed.
Salt Spring and the Southern Gulf Islands have benefitted from a renewed visitor discovery. Travel writers, foodie publications, and adventure maps are showcasing this delectable part of the Coast.
With a temperate micro-climate, an interesting and interested population, with an authentic artists community, and an inspiring natural world (and in the heart of some of the best protected boating waters in the world), Salt Spring enjoys a year round lifestyle. Close to major centres, with easy access, and yet wonderfully apart, the Island welcomes you.