Tag Archives: market analysis

January 2016, Market Analysis

January 2016, Market Analysis – Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island


A New Year…a new adventure.

2016 may turn out to be the authentic first post-meltdown year, for discretionary real estate sales.

Salt Spring Sales – Between 2008 & 2014

In the secondary home markets, between end of 2008 and end of 2014, there was scant activity. Although most sales in 2015 occurred under the label “entry level residential”, such sales volume may have doubled and listing inventory dramatically thinned. This is a marker of an authentic recovery. In the end, all property types/price points find their buyer.

Hard Asset Investing

It’s called hard asset investing, and is perhaps the antidote to years of quantitative easing. When currency uncertainties are a factor, ownership of a good real estate option is a solid route to safe haven investing.

This is an excellent opportunity for many to consider amplifying their property portfolio: to consider a recreational purchase as a means to grow their asset base. Undeveloped land opportunities may be the “best buy” venue.

Interest rates still remain at almost historic lows. Sellers might agree to hold a mortgage in order to facilitate a sale. Prices reduced over the past eight year downturn; recreational options are affordable. Vacation rentals can help to offset costs. And, there is the enjoyment aspect in this “always on” post-Internet world. A ferry to a retreat…hmmm…a recipe for a pleasing lifestyle?

BC Ferries

BC Ferries

A Time For Action

A cottage. A garden. A kayak at a dock. A deck to invite one to ponder a view. A beach to stroll. A mountain trail to hike. A decompression chamber? Plus an appreciation component that makes the enjoyment also a good investment.

Timing is all. January reminds us of the message of the double faced Roman god who left his name on this beginning month: one face looked back to past days, and one viewed forward. A quick glance back shows a market finally in recovery. A glimpse forward sees a moment in time that invites participation.

A new year, a new adventure…will you answer the call? Time for that recreational purchase? Time to turn that daydream into reality? Time for action.

November 2015, Market Analysis

November 2015

Fulford Harbour, Salt Spring Island

Fulford Harbour, Salt Spring Island


We are now sliding into the Fall-into-Winter moment.

There is often a perception that Salt Spring, the Gulf Islands, and Vancouver Island are seasonal markets…busier in late Spring and Summer…with less happening in the supposed “off season”. Not so.

It’s important to be presented to the marketplace at all times, in this post-Internet era. The Google search eye never sleeps. Someone, somewhere is searching.

In our secondary home/discretionary region, on this thin strip of the beautiful Pacific Northwest Coast, potential buyers now turn up, physically, between mid-summer and late fall…to view what had caught their attention earlier, on the net.

Many sales thus take place between August and end of the year. This catches many sellers off guard, if they have only a Spring/Summer mindset for a possible sale.

At this point, in a still busy sales time, we can point to continuing signs of an authentic market shift…in a strong upward direction:

  • Thinning inventory.
  • Rising price levels in the entry level residential priced category.
  • Sales of undeveloped land.
  • Stronger interest in higher end residential options…with more sales in this segment.
  • Buyer desire to buy a retirement or recreational or investment property.
  • Concerns over currencies making hard asset investments of interest.
  • Media reporting on all the above.

No matter the market trend in play at any time, there is always opportunity in a property purchase. Over time, a real estate investment is an important one. It is a wealth builder and a wealth preserver, although it is a “long tail” investment decision.

If you are considering a purchase of a Salt Spring Island, other Gulf Island, or Vancouver Island property, call me. My strong referral network will connect you to the best agents if your wish list lies in an area outside my circle of expertise. Benefit from my knowledge, of both inventory & of trends…let me help you to discover the right property for you.

The transition period between a buyers and a sellers market is rapidly closing, in our Gulf Islands area.

In the entry level priced residential properties (below $550,000, say?), we are already seeing sellers conditions. In undeveloped land sales, it’s still early days. Waterfront & superlative ocean view acreages always see earliest activity, in upper tier residential (over $900,000), and this pattern has just started (since August?)…waterfronts and equestrian friendly acreages are currently most in demand. The spread between list and sale price points is rapidly narrowing in all property types.

These are the key factors pointing to the close of the transition period: narrowing price spread, thinning inventory, sales volume increase.

Our coastal secondary home regions only began to see “soft” recovery in late 2014. Now, although still not even-handed, and many properties still not seeing “fast sales”, we are almost through the transition period…many people, locally, liken both our current real estate and our small business recovery to 2006/2007 patterns. Pre-economic collapse of 2008, then. All good news!

How may I help you to buy your special Salt Spring Island, Gulf Island, or Vancouver Island property? Call me! Look forward to working with you.

September 2015, Market Analysis

September 2015, Market Analysis

Salt Spring Island, 2015

Salt Spring Island, 2015


Real estate is always a sure-fire conversation starter. “What’s the market doing?” is a classic opener.

For those who have been holding secondary homes/recreational properties, during an almost eight year downturn, it’s welcome news indeed that the answer is now “Definitely improving!”.

All markets are cyclical in nature

All markets are cyclical in nature. Sellers would prefer to sell on a high, and buyers would love to buy on a low. Recognizing pivotal market trends is a tough call. It’s usual to understand things when they have already passed by…easier to enjoy that 20/20 vision of the past.

The recreational markets are particularly difficult to call. Unlike a primary residence/city marketplace, where one lives year-round, works there, sends children to school there, the secondary home/rural marketplaces are by choice areas.

Old Scott Road

Old Scott Road

No one “has to” buy a property on a Gulf Island or in a rural community on Vancouver Island. Such a decision is totally discretionary, and does require consumer confidence in economic outcomes.

The post-Internet world we all now inhabit has changed the fabric of recreational ownership. It’s probable that 100% of such purchases start with an Internet search, and possibly that start occurs a good two years before a purchase is even seriously entertained.

That internet search puts all recreational regions on the same level. The buyer is no longer specifically targeted to one area… all such regions are now in competition with each other. Choice is huge.

The difficulty with several evenly weighted choices is that the viewer of same may put off acting. A buyer wants to “be sure”, before choosing. Why this place? What about that one? How to decide? Too many choices may mean no decision is taken.

I often think that a happy visitor experience in a recreational area can lead to a real estate purchase there. Successful tourism outcomes seem to drive all secondary home economies.

So…tourist discoveries are apparently showing their best patterns since 2007. Real estate sales volume in rural/recreational regions has improved dramatically. We may be just at the beginning of a market trending upward, in such discretionary areas. This might be the brief equilibrium moment between a buyers and a sellers market.

The allure factor that encourages a discretionary property decision might be the opportunity to live, even part-time, in a kinder gentler place. To be self-sufficient. To remember our essential selves.

August 2015, Market Analysis

August 2015, Market Analysis

August on coastal B.C. is an alluring season…& this summer of sun & warmer than usual temperatures is calling forth visitor experiences throughout this beautiful region.

Salt Spring Inn

Salt Spring Inn


I’ve always thought that tourism leads to real estate sales in all secondary home/discretionary areas. During the 7 to 8 year “downturn”, tourist visits were also down.

Most businesses in discretionary regions are once again seeing good economic outcomes this season…many owners feel that things have returned to 2007 levels.

Real estate sales volume has doubled in most secondary home/by choice markets, in that entry level priced residential category.

Price Stabilization

Gulf Islands Hotel

Gulf Islands Hotel

Along with higher sales volume, there is thinning inventory in this same price segment. That usually leads to price stabilization & potential for price increases.

The upper tier priced residential market segment is seeing random sales again. Yes, prices are markedly lower than list, which may have seen several reductions if followed market down, but sales are slowly occurring.

Undeveloped land sales are also beginning to strengthen. Commercial opportunities are slowly catching attention. Both of these property categories are dependent on renewed buyer confidence.

While prices may not yet have stabilized to the point that definite patterns are in evidence, it is clear that the spread between list & sale pricing is rapidly narrowing, & in favour of the seller.

Late 2014 saw the beginning of consistent sales in that entry level residential category &, by late Spring 2015, this segment was seeing the transaction equation swinging to the seller side re sale pricings.

We seem to have become a summer/fall market now, in the Pacific Northwest coastal communities…whether the Gulf Islands, or Vancouver Island, or the Sunshine Coast. It’s important to be “out there“, if a seller, & year round (the buyer profile is mainly non-local in the discretionary areas), so that one is “discovered” & will bring the buyer to eventually choose…physicality, though, does seem to occur more frequently in summer & fall months.

We appear to be at a mid-point in a real estate recovery. Sales volume increases, stabilizing prices, renewed interest from buyers in holding second home/recreational property options…it all points the way to an authentic market recovery in all the secondary home markets.

Our low Canadian Dollar against the Pound & the U.S. Dollar may bring back that traditional buyer to our area. A “safe haven” seeking may be playing a part in showcasing our region as a viable destination choice. Our temperate climate does encourage self-sufficient outcomes.

How lucky we are to call this region “home”.

June & July 2015, Market Analysis

June & July 2015, Market Analysis

Well…here we are…it’s the month when the calendar spells Summer…& the great Pacific Northwest Coast erupts into lush beauty.

Salt Spring Island and the Southern Gulf Islands are nestled in the heart of the very best protected boating waters in the world…and summer-summer is the premier season of all.

Sailing, kayaking, power boat discoveries…fishing…hiking, walking, climbing…farm gate stalls & farmers markets pleasures…galleries, studio tours, theatre, dance, live music venues around the town…spas, alternative health explorations, meditative & restorative experiences…it is all here, for your enjoyment, on special Salt Spring Island.

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

I often think that real estate sales mirror visitor arrivals, & so the importance of tourism cannot be ignored in any secondary home/discretionary area.

One visits, falls in love, calls a realtor, & then everyone else gets busy: designers, architects, contractors, soft furnishing providers, painters, excavators, septic installers, well drillers, landscapers, gardeners, galleries, food providers, restaurants…you name it…it starts with tourism (which also initially benefits restaurants, hotel, motel, resorts, B&B providers, car and scooter rentals…boat & kayak rentals, fishing charters, whale watching tours…vineyard wine tastings, farmers markets)…you get the drift.

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

The main industry on Salt Spring & the Gulf Islands is tourism…and all businesses benefit, whether at the front end or the back end.

The good news?

Visitors are back. Travel to the coastal regions is experiencing a resurgence. And the real estate markets are also on the “improve” side of the equation in all the “by choice” marketplaces. That includes on Salt Spring Island & the Gulf Islands.

A real estate recovery always starts in the entry level residential category. As sales volume increases and inventory “thins”, in this beginning property segment, then either the buyer has to raise the expectation level price-wise, or has to buy inexpensive raw land and build a cottage or move on a modular, to stay on budget. This is another strong sign, the sale of raw land parcels, of an authentic improving real estate market trend.

Many sellers on the Gulf Islands & on Vancouver Island, in the past 5 years, had wondered why the very brisk sales in 4 key neighborhoods of Vancouver had not spilled over onto our side of Georgia Strait.

Well, it’s the great divide between a city/primary residence market and a rural/secondary home marketplace. Totally different dynamics are in play.

In a downmarket, buyers can put a purchase in a discretionary market “on hold”… and indeed, this inaction on the part of buyers characterized the past 7 to 8 years on Salt Spring & the Gulf Islands. Same story on Vancouver Island & on the Sunshine Coast.

Similar statistics in Whistler & in B.C. Interior communities…no one has to retire or choose a softer lifestyle or purchase a recreational/second property for summer/weekends use…one needs a level of economic confidence to consider such “extra” property options.

Now however, (after 7 to 8 years of inaction from buyers) activity has begun…and soon it will be in evidence in all property types and price ranges, in all these recreational/retirement venues.

Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands are very different from small coastal towns on Vancouver Island & on the Sunshine Coast. The Gulf Islands are a part of the Islands Trust, a government body that was created in 1974, to preserve & protect the environmental beauties of the Gulf Islands, for the benefit of all B.C. residents. Salt Spring is not a municipality.

The two trustees & the CRD representative (elected positions) are the form of governance…the restrictive zonings/bylaws, put in place in 1974, to severely control growth, remain in effect.

I think the lovely things of value on the Island have been created by volunteers: ArtSpring, Trail & Nature Club, Island Natural Growers, the Rainbow indoor pool, the Library, the pathways linking the Villages, various clubs & organizations, etc)…all the positive outcomes to benefit the community are the result of volunteers, and their fundraising efforts. Wow! An entrepreneurial & generous community, indeed.

So, when the real estate recovery starts, it’s not immediately even-handed. It begins in the entry level category. As inventory disappears, prices stabilize. The spread between list & sale narrows. In the end (say a year out?), all properties will find their buyer.

Li Read

Li Read

At the moment, we are often seeing substantial price reductions at the point of the offer, in the high end residential. These dream properties are unique/”one offs”…when one sells, that’s it…thus, just as in the case of entry level properties, that spread between list & sale prices in higher end opportunities will also narrow.

Salt Spring & the Gulf Islands basically had growth “capped” when the Trust was created. It’s about supply & demand, just as we learned in Economics 101.

There is a lot of “unrest” afoot in the world. Things that used to “work” no longer do so (thank you Internet world). Economies pretend to recover. Underneath it all, a subtle return to hard asset investment choices is underway. Keep an eye on the fine art sales at major auction houses. A purchase of a unique item is a preservation of capital move, I believe. A purchase of a property where growth is curtailed is a marker of overall uptick, in the long term. Supply and demand is the key. Safe haven investing? More info? Call me!

The good news right this minute?

The amazing Gulf Islands & Salt Spring Island are seeing an authentic recovery of the real estate market, after a very lengthy “pause” (7 long years?). All good news.

In real estate, no matter the terrain of market trends, there is always opportunity. In a shift, one just needs to reposition.

May 2015, Market Analysis

May 2015, Market Analysis

“Been down so long it looks like up to me”…. The real estate song in all secondary home/discretionary markets, during the past 7 years? Perhaps.

Important when shift happens to be treading water in the current of change. No looking in the rear view mirror.

The recovery will become more even-handed

The upward shift may have begun in October last year, but slowly slowly. By February of this year, the uptick consistently strengthened in the entry level residential category.

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

Two years ago, the majority of sales were below 450,000. This year, sales volume may have doubled over same time period last year…and the price ceiling appears to have reached 800,000. All good news.

As inventory continues to thin out, buyers will have to offer closer to sellers expectations. Undeveloped land will begin to gain interest & buyers will consider building projects. Higher tier priced residential will get offers and begin a sales process that will match current entry level priced rhythms.

In other words, the recovery will become more even-handed in the discretionary regions. This overall improvement should be evident by late Summer/early Fall market.

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

The busiest March Break/Easter Weekend timeframe since 2007 took place this 2015…now every weekend continues to show activity…the signs of a secondary home market recovery are at last fully evident.

The busyness in Vancouver (a primary residence area) for the past 3 years made it difficult for sellers in discretionary coastal markets to understand the lack of action. This was true on Vancouver Island and on Sunshine Coast, as well as on the Gulf Islands. A “by choice” decision can be put on hold until confidence returns.

Early whispers of improvement were there in some discretionary areas by late Fall, 2014. Now, however, we are seeing general activity everywhere in all coastal markets, and 2015 does appear to be the year of authentic recovery.

A seller’s opportunity? Yes…but pricing has not yet stabilized to match the sales volume increase.

We are just now entering what I always see as our main sales window (mid-May to end of September). These next weeks see the beginning of boating season in this unique protected waters marine region. Many special events and important holiday weekends take place…visitor experiences bring property seekers, too.

So…authentic sales volume improvement, rising price points in those sales if lower priced options, sellers achieving close to list, diminishing inventory…it’s the turn of secondary home markets again.

Sellers who followed the market down will welcome this recovery. Real estate companies will welcome this improvement. Buyers will need to become creative in their offering process, in an effort to do their “best deal”. The old real estate adage of “you make your money when you buy” is true for all market trends…and it’s not always about price.

A buyers market is characterized by lots of inventory & few buyers. A sellers market is best described as low inventory & lots of buyers. Supply & demand always dictate pricings.