Tag Archives: Canadian Gulf Islands

Market Analysis, May 2018, Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

May 2018, Salt Spring

It may be that the Islands Trust (created and put in place, in 1974, by the provincial government) will have done more than “preserve and protect” the environmental beauties of the Gulf Islands, for the benefit of all B.C. residents.

It may be that the Trust will also have preserved a way of life that is disappearing, globally.

The outcome of the technology era, with artificial intelligence, with robotics and virtual, meshed, augmented realities, is rapidly changing our culture.

These technological outcomes make all knowledge, as we understand it right now, outmoded within 18 months. Speed of change continues to ramp up.

It really is like Alice Through the Looking Glass: we have to run very fast just to stay still. It’s interesting that this supposed children’s book, from the early days of the last century, was written by a mathematician. Hmmm…..

All of our cultures, globally, are undergoing massive change. Marshall McLuhan, back in the 1960s/70s, noted that “the medium is the message”.

Meanwhile, there sit the Gulf Islands, firmly anchored in 1974. Hmmm…..

Preserve & Protect?

In severely curtailing growth, through strong zoning/bylaws, since 1974, the Trust maintained the “preserve and protect” mandate. On September 9, 2017, Salt Springers voted 63%, in a referendum, to retain the 1974 form of governance, without change.

Will the Islands rise in value, so that only the very wealthy will be able to afford the properties? Will they be seen as places to recharge, to experience “real reality” in its authentic form? Will they be seen as Shangri-La opportunities…restorative withdrawal niches? Hmmm…

Change is with us. In change lies opportunity.

How do you envision these time tunnels known as the Gulf Islands, in two years? Five years? Ten?

Demographics, globalization, technology impacts, population movements, cultural shifts, economic changes…we are all in a moment of substantial shift, similar to what was unleashed onto the Middle Ages by Gutenberg’s life altering printing press in the 14th Century…similar to the impact on the agrarian world with the advent of the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th Century. These are big picture shifts. Ways of living vanished and were replaced with new options, in these earlier eras.

Will Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands remain as they are? Hmmmm…..

Meantime, several local groups are meeting and creating information bases, to address the outstanding issues still facing Salt Spring, after the vote to remain “as is”. In October, at the civic election time, two trustees and a CRD director will be elected, for a four year term. Stay tuned.

The Real Estate Market?

And, what about the real estate market as we enter May? Thin inventory below 900,000, plus strong buyer demand in entry level, keeps a strong sales picture in place. Many buyers are from Vancouver and plan to live on Salt Spring. The market, up to a certain price point, could be described as a seller’s market. Perhaps half of the listings currently available, in residential offerings, are above one million Canadian dollars.

Please pop into my office for my weekly “driveby” lists…they show all available listings, regardless of realtor, company, or board affiliation.

The realtor.ca site is geographic and also shows all current listings.

The Southern Gulf Islands are a “gray area”…meaning that 3 boards are represented on them (Vancouver, Victoria, & Vancouver Island). Boards are a portal for a realtor to get their listing onto the geographic MLS.

In a “gray area”, if you go onto a realtor’s private client service, you will only see the listings on that realtor’s board…you would miss, perhaps, 50% of the actual listings. Very important, then, to take the time to view realtor.ca (for full information on “what is”).

So, low inventory, the lowest I’ve seen since 2003, few new listings, price stability, some small price increases as the few new listings do come onstream, and we are just now entering our main grid of activity (May to September)…we may see dramatic price rises by August.

June 2014, Market Analysis

Well, here we are at the beginning of June, a half-way point in our calendar year…yet only the beginning of our main sales window in our secondary home/discretionary marketplace.
Our busiest viewings/potential sales timeline has truncated down to mid-May (two holiday weekends) to mid-October (Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend). The most active months are July/August/September.

These summer season months dovetail with the boating season in our beautiful protected marine environment.

It used to be that our Salt Spring Island & Gulf Islands destinations were seen as “seasonless”…people would pop in as visitors & as potential buyers throughout the year, although with summer obviously still being the busiest time.

Post-Internet, though, decisions as to tourism destinations are global & Hawaii, Mexico, Florida, Arizona, Palm Desert, the Riviera, Spain, Portugal are seen as winter season ports of call…plus New Zealand & Australia, with their summer in our winter.


The entire Pacific Northwest Coast, then, has become this seasonally oriented tourist destination…late Spring, Summer, early Fall. I do believe that tourism drives real estate sales in all discretionary regions, & globally so. A shortening of a visitor timeline affects all resort-based area business.

Post-Internet, a potential property buyer also has huge choice as to where to buy that second home, whether for future retirement or recreational for now….

Choice. Too much choice means that it’s difficult to make a decision. An extra element of the post-Internet world.

Time lags for many reasons are a feature of all purchases in any secondary home/discretionary region…including on Salt Spring & the Southern Gulf Islands. Patience, then, is necessary on the part of both sellers & realtors. The buyer propels a market in any “by choice” area.

After a long six years of suppressed conditions, with price reductions between 29 & 45%, depending on property involved, with properties remaining on the market between 2 & 7 years, this year has so far seen a serious uptick in sales volume activity on Salt Spring Island.

Though still mainly busy in the entry-level property segment, the inventory in this category has also been “thinning out” & price points have thus been rising…it was the busiest March Break in six years. This early point in our ever shorter sales window usually foretells our main selling season…summer/early Fall. All good news, then, at this beginning of June moment.

June is often oddly quiet, until the final week. Until summer, it’s a weekend business. The Gulf Islands are recipient markets, buyers are not local, & a tourist visit often creates a real estate sales result.

To date, most sales remain below $800,000, mainly residentialwith the majority of sales below $600,000. A scant handful of sales are over one million. These are early days in our short seasonal market, & a true picture of this 2014 “year of recovery” may not be clear until late August.

One marker of authentic market shift, in an upward direction, would be the resurgence of the undeveloped land category.

There are many societal shifts underway right now. A seeking of a safe haven might be the reason for a return of interest to the secondary home marketplaces…including in the Canadian Gulf Islands.

The ability to be self-sufficient, the proximity to major centres, the peaceful allure of yesteryear in everyday life, the sense of community with all the 21st Century amenities at hand, with a temperate micro-climate, & in the heart of the best protected boating waters in the world…Salt Spring Island & the Gulf Islands are practically perfect.

Looking for your dream Island property? Call me! Your best interests are my motivation. I work for you!

There are many stellar properties awaiting your discovery: waterfronts, oceanviews, farms, vineyards, building opportunities, commercial/business options, acreages/lots…call me, & let’s view. This may be the tail-end of the buyers market….

How may I help you to buy your Salt Spring Island or Southern Gulf Islands property?