Tag Archives: Salt Spring Island Real Estate

Market Analysis, May 2016, Salt Spring Island

Market Analysis, May 2016, Salt Spring Island

Market Recovery - Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

Signs of a Seller’s Market Recovery

Yes, it’s really true…after an 8 year market downturn, we are finally seeing a resurgence of authentic activity in our secondary home/discretionary real estate market.

Many listings had followed the market down. Fine properties and well-marketed…but few buyers around. In a downmarket, buyers are scarce. In past five weeks, many of these long listed properties have now sold. Very few new listings are coming onstream to replace these steady “solds“…this is the sign of a seller’s market.

At the moment, it appears that sales volume has doubled over the same period as last year and that prices have stabilized (meaning that the buyers are having to offer close to or at list price to secure a property). Price rises and back-up offers may be next.

Salt Spring Island Ganges Harbour - Market Recovery

Salt Spring Island Ganges Harbour

Vancouver Origin

This authentic recovery is very new…began from one-day-to-the-next, approximately 5 weeks ago. Most buyers are from Vancouver. They have sold properties in Vancouver’s hot market, and are now seeking alternative places.

In late Fall of 2015, these property seekers were first looking on Sunshine Coast & in Okanagan communities.

Finally, it’s now the turn of Salt Spring, Gulf Islands, and Vancouver Island, to be considered as the new lifestyle choices.

The desire for a unique hard asset investment is strong again. The “safe haven” seeking may also be a part of sales in our beautiful coastal region. The natural rhythm of a market recovery…every 10 years there is an uptick?…is also a part of this return to a strong sales pattern. There is never just one reason for a market recovery.

Recoveries are never even-handed, especially when they first begin. There remain very pleasing properties at approachable prices. There are still opportunities for a buyer.

As residential offerings continue to thin out, it may be that an undeveloped land purchase will be in a buyer’s favour. Build a cottage, or barge on a home being saved from a city’s destruction, or consider a package home.

A renovation project on great land should always be considered.

Call me for ideas that work.

Creative financing can be a buyer’s friend in an upmarket trend.

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.

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”.

April 2015, Market Analysis

April 2015, Market Analysis – Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Back to The Seller Side

Yes, it’s true…the real estate market is turning back to the seller side of the sales equation in the secondary home marketplaces…good news indeed for Salt Spring Island & Gulf Islands & Vancouver Island owners.

On the Pacific Northwest Coast, which includes all Gulf Islands, including Salt Spring Island, plus Vancouver Island, plus Sunshine Coast, the secondary home/recreational/discretionary marketplaces are all definitely on the improve.


Inventory has “thinned” dramatically in the entry level priced residential segment. Slow sales in this price category, over the past 2 years, have quietly erased inventory backlog. Affordably priced undeveloped land is now beginning to sell as a result…buying land & building a cottage or choosing a manufactured home allows one to keep the budget at that entry level price point.

As inventory “thins”, prices stabilize. In some cases there are already small bidding wars.

Buyers who are able to increase their budget are starting to look at higher priced residential offerings, for more choice & potentially more motivated sellers.

For The Luxury Buyer In Salt Spring

For those able to consider a purchase in the luxury/upper tier priced property segment, there are still deals to happen, for a buyer. It may take until the Fall Market to see stability in pricings in the over one million category. Right now, this property segment is experiencing the uptick in interest & resulting lower offers that the entry level category experienced during the past two years.

I think when we arrive at late September/mid-October timeframe, we will see an even-handed recovery firmly underway.

I believe we are in the very last stages of a transition period, here, in our coastal region, between buyer & seller markets.

My definition of a buyers market: lots of listings & no buyers. And a sellers market? No inventory & lots of buyers. I think we are moving to that sellers market description.

It has been a long 7 years in all the secondary home/discretionary markets, & globally so. Some areas may even have experienced the “pause” 10 years ago. Within our overall coastal grid, places are never evenly busy.

British Columbia, An Undiscovered Coast

On this still relatively undiscovered Coast, we are always the tail of the dog. Now, however, we are seeing dramatic improvement…sales volume to date, for Salt Spring, has improved by close to 30% over previous year. Price stability has just begun…price increases may be on the horizon, but not just yet. This upward sales volume pattern is in evidence on the entire coastal rim.

Our discretionary area sales window runs from March Break through to Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend (mid-October). It remains a weekend business until mid-May, perhaps. Late June to late September remain the busiest sales months.

A seasonal marketplace once more on the move…plus, a lower Canadian Dollar against the U.S. currency…plus a general safe haven seeking in this turbulent global political & economic time of change…& the ability to live anywhere while working in the digital universe…it all adds to the general rhythm of uptick.

Salt Spring – The Allure of A “Caring Community”

The allure of a caring community is another attraction of the secondary home regions. An aging in place demographic, a strong community service volunteer group, a caring underpinning to the Island…this certainly describes exceptional Salt Spring Island.

Yes, it’s different than the flat conditions of the past 7 + years. However, there is always opportunity. The key? Recognizing it when it appears before you, and then acting on it.

An outcome of the global search is that it throws up a lot of surface information…& a lot of choice usually means slowness in action. The “have I seen it all yet?” syndrome. So important to listen for the “ping”. If a property lights up for you, then that’s the one to act on. It’s about listening to our inner voice.

I sometimes think searching property sites has become an entertainment feature…kind of like a 90s sitcom…look but not act. For an investment uptick, though (always better to buy on a rising market), now is the time for buyer involvement.

Continuing low interest rates are in favour of the buyer, for the time being.

Although inventory is thinning out in the affordable price segment, there are still creative ways to remain on budget.

Salt Spring Island Real Estate – An Appreciating Asset

An investment on a Gulf Island, including on Salt Spring Island, the largest & best serviced of this “southern” grouping, remains a good investment. Over time, a property purchase on Salt Spring Island & the Gulf Islands will build in value.

The Islands Trust put a cap on growth back in 1974…through strict zoning/density bylaws controls. Supply & demand is a factor in a Gulf Islands market, due to the Trust’s non-growth policies.

Enjoyment of a property is also a valid marker of value for a discretionary region. That enjoyment may include the ability to be self-sustaining. The benign micro-climate in our coastal environment makes this possible.

Yes, all markets are like a wave…up, down, up, down…never static. In real estate, it seems that the down never falls as low as the previous down. Thus, over time, a steady increase is consistently shown. On the rise, the fix & flippers start to reappear. Savvy ones are acting now.

Between 2000 & 2001, sales volume rose 50%. Between 2002 & 2005, prices rose 60%. A slowing trend took place between 2006 & 2007. Then the economic collapses of late 2008…now, at the beginning of April, 2015, we seem to be emerging back into 2002 times. Possibly we will look back & decide that 2010/2011 were the true flat bottom years in our discretionary area.

In change lies opportunity.

March 2014, Market Analysis

A Market Recovery?

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March, 2014 – Salt Spring Island Real Estate Analysis
A recovery in the secondary home/recreational market seems to be underway…signs of slow sales volume momentum are globally visible. It has been a long five to six years of buyer inaction in all discretionary regions.

The second home/resort-based areas, globally, suffered hugely after the 2008 economic collapses. No one “has to” buy a vacation home or retire to a second home…it’s always a “by choice” decision.

Buyers decide outcomes in secondary home markets, & the decision to purchase a recreational or retirement property depends on consumer confidence.

Salt Spring Island, the Gulf Islands, & tourism driven communities on Vancouver Island all experienced a significant downturn between late 2008 & mid 2013. Some appraisers & realtors noted a slowdown in activity as early as 2006. The consistent loss in value was felt world-wide in such marketplaces over the past five years.

Values on the Gulf Islands & on Vancouver Island reportedly dropped between 29% & 45%, depending on location & type of property. In Spain & Portugal, it was reported that recreational properties dropped in value by as much as 70%.

Realty companies/realtors kept reducing prices, in a search for “the bottom”. This price cutting does not work in a recreational region…if a buyer does not want to buy, then nothing will happen.
All Listings
Fear has various faces. After little action in 2009 & 2010, there was a flurry of specific activity in 2011. Rental properties began to find buyers…these were not end-users. Family homes, older dwellings, excellent rentals, found investor-buyers. The action was only in the entry level residential category. Was this a move into real estate out of concern that the stock market was too volatile & interest rates too suppressed by banks? Investors were the main movers of sales action from early 2011 to mid 2012.

In 2012, it remained softly active in the same entry level residential segment, but end-users began to reappear. Also, as sales consistently occurred (without many properties coming onstream to replace the slow “solds”), the price ceiling of entry level began to rise.

In 2011, most sales were below 400,000. By 2013, the bulk of sales were below 800,000.

Each year, there were random & scant sales between one & two million…mainly residential oceanfront. In most cases, they had severely reduced in price before selling. Undeveloped land opportunities & commercial/business options remained flat throughout.

January & February usually continue the November/December pattern of the previous year…2014 has been no exception.
Our market region has become ever more seasonal…the grid of sales activity now falls between March Break & the Canadian Thanksgiving (early October). The busiest months within this timeline might be May, July, August, September.

We are just beginning the 2014 rhythm, then, at this beginning of March moment. It’s still an optimum time to be a buyer…

Projections are calling for renewed interest in undeveloped land…either as a holding property or as a building opportunity. I have always seen land sales as a marker of a buoyant market. Sales of raw land are a strong signal of recovery.

It also is being projected that 2014 is the time of a resurgence in action in the upper tier priced residential properties. The affluent global investor is looking for special properties in special places…with a safe haven aspect to the region. Perhaps a concern over currency instability is driving this higher end property segment…a safe haven seeking, both personally and as a preservation of capital move, can be a strong motivator to real estate activity in the luxury property market. Inquiries on properties between two & five million are occurring.

Tourism, in the secondary home/recreational regions, does encourage real estate sales. People visit, fall in love with an area, buy a home or a lot, & suddenly all other businesses thrive…designers, contractors, restaurants, soft furnishing providers, etc etc etc…it’s like a train, & it starts with tourism & real estate sales.

Slowly, tourism is recovering on Salt Spring, on the Gulf Islands, & on Vancouver Island. All good news, then.

A concern over B.C. Ferries, & its decision to cut costs by cutting service/raising fares on smaller coastal routes, is being fought by affected communities. These route cuts/fare hikes might hamper tourism. If you’re an islander, get in touch with your Chamber of Commerce, & be involved in this important matter.


So, with the spyglass of projection up to the eye, at the beginning of March, it does appear that sales will be consistent in the secondary home markets. It may be that sales volume will rise, but prices remain stable. Inventory in all property segments will have to clear out before prices rise. The close of 2014 should show strong signs of a recovered discretionary marketplace.

Looking for specific sales information for Salt Spring & the Gulf Islands? Vancouver Island recreational communities? Call me! In a transition period, it’s important to keep up to date. No rear view mirror thinking!

Looking for a Salt Spring Island or Gulf Island property? Call me! I look forward to bringing my knowledge (of inventory & of trends) to your benefit. My motivation is your successful outcome.

Call me for full information on all listed properties & all “solds” statistics…regardless of real estate board involved. Salt Spring & the Gulf Islands are in a “grey area”, which means three boards overlap…I offer full information regardless of which board a particular realtor chooses to affiliate with. I have access to all boards. Don’t miss out…call me! You will discover the entire listing inventory with me.

Residential, farms, vineyards, building lots/acreages, estates, private islands, commercial/investment, oceanfront, lakefront, recreational…it’s all here, in all price ranges, & I look forward to introducing the island & all its fine properties to you.