Tag Archives: August September

Market Analysis, August 2017, Salt Spring Island

Market Analysis, August 2017, Salt Spring Island

We are…at the mid-point of our summer season.

An interesting picture of our market, in past several months…up & down, down & up. Lots of pauses en route to steadier outcomes. A definite sales volume increase.

On March 16, 2016, we experienced the beginning of a market recovery, after the almost eight year economic downturn. It was propelled by those people who had sold in Vancouver’s “hot market”.

Between mid-March 2016 and end of June 2016, we saw steady sales, mainly in entry level residential options. At the beginning of the recovery, sellers reduced to meet buyer expectation. Slowly, sales began to favour the seller, and that large spread between list and sale pricings narrowed dramatically.

By the end of July, 2016, along with this subtle beginning of a seller’s market, we began to see a developing interest in higher priced residential opportunities. Waterfront estate properties began to receive offers, in June and July.

Then: the provincial government brought in the 15% offshore tax in metro-Vancouver, in early August 2016, to cool Vancouver’s “hot” real estate market.

The tax did immediately crash Vancouver’s market.

It also stopped the secondary home market recovery…including on Salt Spring. We lost August/September/most of October in 2016. These months are usually very active in real estate sales on Salt Spring.

Then, on December 3rd, “real winter” set in all over the coast…including on Salt Spring. This once every 20 years La NiƱa weather pattern lasted until May 15, 2017. (Between October 1 and April 30, records going back 122 years, for cool temperatures and significant precipitation, were broken, on the entire Pacific Northwest Coast. For first time in my career, I would say that weather affected winter’s real estate outcomes).

Vancouver tax…plus long and unusual winter…no Spring market in 2017…it added up to almost eight months of “pause”. It appears that July 6/7 began the “season”, for this 2017 year. Short and intense outcomes perhaps?

In spite of the long pauses and haphazard connections, a steady attrition in listings had continued between 2016 and 2017.

The signs of an improving market: low inventory, higher buyer demand, the beginning of sales of undeveloped land.

The result of low supply and high buyer interest can be significant price increases. It may be that we will see such increases by Spring 2018.

At the moment, as we enter our main grid of action (mid-July to mid-October), we are seeing some small bidding wars, for unique properties, plus full-price offers, plus back-up offer situations. Sales of raw land lots/acreages are well underway.

Sellers are now in control of the improving trend, in the transaction moment. Buyers need to make their highest and best offer when considering a purchase. An improving trend means less latitude for a buyer to negotiate. More information? Call me.

Salt Spring in the Summer is a very pleasing experience. The Saturday Market in the Park, the Tuesday Farmers Market, the artistic offerings at ArtCraft in Mahon Hall, the events and gallery displays at ArtSpring, studio tours throughout the Island (pick up the map at the Visitor’s Centre), the Ganges Village galleries, the farm stands with organic produce, the hiking/walking trails to encourage the experience of the natural world, the kayaking and sailing opportunities in this part of the Salish Sea…the vineyard tastings, cidery, craft brewery, cheese-makers…superb restaurants creating great menus with local fare…ocean and lake delights…it’s called summer-summer, and is there to enjoy!

Market Analysis, November 2016, Salt Spring Island

Here we are, segueing into the last two months of 2016.

Although not as buoyant as in “the season” (May to October), the months of November and December still offer both important visitor experiences (tourism) and significant real estate sales.

For the first time in several years, Salt Spring appears to have returned to its former “seasonless” nature.


People do visit throughout the year. The Gulf Islands are located in a micro-climate that is very temperate. Salt Spring offers a year round pleasing visitor experience and real estate transactions occur throughout the year.

For most of 2016 the buyer for Salt Spring properties came from Vancouver. These buyers had sold in Vancouver’s hot market. They were interested in buying down (in size & in price), putting money in the bank, and exploring a new location lifestyle.

This buyer profile plans to be a year round resident…which augurs well for year round community endeavours (such as the “shop local” movement). It is different from buyers in previous years (with Alberta & the U.S. delivering most purchasers), who may have been more seasonal.

The 15% tax for offshore buyers in Vancouver, law in early August, did immediately cool Vancouver’s marketplace. The impact on all coastal secondary home markets, including on Salt Spring, was also immediate. Vancouver’s sellers had been the buyers in all our coastal secondary home marketplaces.

A post-tax pause in activity took place here, on Salt Spring, in August & September. By mid-October, sales once again began to take place, although not with the same fervour seen in that mid-March to end of July period.

That said, inventory is low in all property categories. Prices have remained stable. Sales are often now occurring at list price. The bulk of sales still remain in step-in ready residential options.

Although essentially seasonless, it is busier between early May and mid-October, with tourism. I do think there is a connection, in secondary home/recreational regions, between a successful visitor experience and a real estate sale. Oddly, though, someone who views in July might wait till November to offer.

Secondary home/discretionary areas have their own rhythm, and it’s completely different from the patterns of a primary residence/city environment.

One chooses “for” a secondary home location…no one “has to” purchase on Salt Spring or on another Gulf Island. It often takes two & sometimes three visits for a buyer to decide on the location of a recreational purchase. Patience is always a requirement in real estate sales, regardless of market trend in play, in all discretionary regions.

At the end of October, the sales stats on Salt Spring were:

  • 28 sales up to 200,000
  • 32 sales between 200,000 & 300,000
  • 50 sales between 300 & 400,000
  • 56 sales between 400 & 500,000
  • 50 sales between 500 & 600,000
  • 31 sales between 600 & 700,000
  • 14 sales between 700 & 800,000
  • 13 sales between 800 & 900,000
  • 8 sales between 900,000 & one million
  • 20 sales between one and two million
  • 4 sales between two and three million
  • 2 sales between three and four million
  • 1 sale at four million even

(Most sales between one & four million were waterfronts).

The good news for Salt Spring: a return to busy days in tourism, with accommodations providers, restaurants, car & scooter rentals, kayak and whale-watching providers, retail shops, all saying it was their best season ever. That kind of buoyancy does have an impact on a real estate market.

Lots of events happening on Salt Spring in November and December: craft fairs, studio tours remain open, special events at ArtSpring, evening classes (always wanted to learn Japanese?), Salt Spring Folk Club monthly showcases, special harvest and celebratory menus at our great restaurants, WinterCraft at Mahon Hall, special Christmas/New Year events, and always the beauty of the Island, welcoming us all to simply enjoy.

It’s true that all world economies are a part of the globalization movement unleashed by the Internet shift in communication. The Internet changes concepts of boundaries. Initially, it may have appeared that “large population venues” were most important.

It’s also possible, though, that we are now seeing a move to localization, at the same time as continuing globalization. This may be the arrow all smaller communities have been seeking. Ganges Village on the same level as Toronto? Or New York? Or Beijing? Hmmm…. The personal and local becomes the global? Content really is king?

Many entrepreneurs are gathering on Salt Spring…ideas created here, coupled with a digital platform for presentation everywhere…that sounds like opportunity. And your thoughts are? Always welcome!