January gets its name from Janus, the Roman god. Janus had two faces: one looking back and one looking forward.
2020 may be the beginning of the “real” 21st Century, and change may be its signature. Artificial intelligence may be key. As we step into the beginning of this first month in a New Year, it might be best to focus on Janus’ forward seeking face.
Real estate in B.C. continues to see significant changes in the industry itself. Real estate outcomes in major centres (Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo, Kelowna) continue to be impacted by provincial government suppression measures. Salt Spring’s main buyer profile continues to be someone who has sold in Vancouver and who is seeking a new lifestyle.
Buyers Create Markets
As we enter January, on Salt Spring we note continuing thin inventory available for a buyer’s choice. If renewed buyer action continues to increase and the inventory continues to remain low, we may see price escalation by mid-2020. Supply and demand, our old economic friends, do predict price outcomes. Sellers and realtors do not create markets…buyers do that.
In January, it’s a good idea to attend financial seminars, to listen to those who make financial projections, to pay attention to geopolitical events (we are all part of a bigger picture), and then to bring our own thoughts to the table. The idea of New Year’s resolutions is really about creating a lifestyle plan. Early January is the time to be thoughtful.
Discovery always comes in from the edges
In change lies opportunity. To see it, perhaps take time to practice periphery vision. If we just head down the prepared (by the media, by those with an agenda) channels, then we are using tunnel vision. Goes nowhere. Brings agitation. Discovery always comes in from the edges, our periphery envelope. Maybe that’s Janus’ forward-facing message? Be open? Seek future solutions? Hmmm…..
Meantime, if you are seeking a real estate outcome, whether selling or buying, on special Salt Spring Island, please call me. Benefit from my knowledge, expertise, experience…your best interests are always my motivation.
September arrives with a sense of renewed purpose.
Although the calendar says Summer carries on until September 20-21, everyone accepts that Labour Day and “back to school” signal a new season.
On the great Pacific Northwest Coast, the days are slowly shortening…another seasonal sign.
September & October Can See a Strong Real Estate Picture
As we begin this new month, it’s good to remember that September and October can see a strong real estate sales picture. Perhaps potential buyers viewed earlier and perhaps they are just arriving now, but these two months can be very active.
Inventory, as soon as one fills in desired price point and property category, remains “thin”. Many owners do not want to be sellers. If one “has to” sell, for whatever reason, that may bring a few new listings onstream, but generally there is a small choice in properties right now for a prospective buyer.
The Buyer Profile
The main buyer profile is still someone from Vancouver/Lower Mainland…when they sell in the city, they become the buyers in the secondary home markets…and this includes on Salt Spring Island.
The main competing area to Salt Spring right now might be the Cowichan Valley. Sellers need to remember that Vancouver Island is also being looked at by that Lower Mainland potential buyer. This interviewing of destinations takes time, and is the main reason for time lags between viewing a property and deciding to offer on it.
Late Market Momentum
This 2019 year has been a shorter “season” than usual…the “once every fifty years” windstorm damage (end of December) is still being addressed in many areas…the unusual snow storms that refused to melt (February/March) added to the “pause”. The first three months of the year were effectively erased, and one could say that the Spring Market did not really get going until around April 5th.
The usual pause between end of May and beginning of June (a traditional hiatus between seasons) saw one local company dramatically reducing prices on all their company listings. These reductions did not lead to resulting strong sales.
The summer market is often a little haphazard…viewings but not always actions. The short pause towards end of August, as people with children return to home locations to organize “back to school”, saw the same company bring in another round of very dramatic reductions on all their company listings. It will be interesting to see if sales follow.
I do this market report at the beginning of a month and offer updates via my blog.
Geopolitics & Our New Media
Geopolitics (Hong Kong unrest, tariff wars), plus elections/media reporting, and continuing provincial government measures to suppress real estate values in Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo, Kelowna…all these elements do affect buyer decisions re the timing of a purchase. Hmmm….
Price reductions may not be germane until the mainly non-local buyer physically turns up on Island…at that point, price spreads will matter.
At this beginning of September moment,
There are 134 residential listings (not separating out townhomes or waterfronts). 34 of these are below one million.
There are 96 land options (not separating out lots, acreages, or waterfronts).
There are 14 commercial listings (not separating out business only from land and business).
As soon as one puts in a parameter (type of property and price point) the choices quickly shrink.
There have been 105 sales to date (between 130,000 and 1,837,500). 39 of these sales are below one million.
September offers summer days, the Saturday Market and the Tuesday Farmers Market both continue, the annual Fall Fair is not to be missed…plus farm to plate dinners, Harvest delights at farmgate stands, gallery openings/receptions, wine tastings, cider tastings, craft brewery discovery. Hiking/walking trails beckon and kayaking/sailing invite. The month begins in Summer mode and closes with authentic Fall.
Salt Spring in September/October is a delight. Discover for yourself.
For many years now, Salt Spring Island and the Southern Gulf Islands have seen strong sales between August and year end.
The Gulf Islands became predominantly summer/fall markets several years ago.
Some sellers don’t list their properties until August, as they want unencumbered enjoyment of their properties, for one last summer season.
The Evolution of the Salt Spring Island “Buyer”
Some buyers, who might have viewed a Gulf Islands property in the Spring season, might now be willing to act with an offer…there might be a little psychology at play, along the lines of: “seller may be noting that we are nearing the close of a seasonal marketplace, and so may be willing to accept a lower offer”. This could be so…although an outcome might also depend on motivation of a seller to sell.
At the beginning of August, then, we find a very thin inventory of listings continuing, and yet actual sales still take time to fill in.
Buyers who come to view Salt Spring or another Gulf Island or even a Vancouver Island community, seem to be interviewing areas. The main buyer profile remains someone from Vancouver/Lower Mainland. They plan to live where they choose to buy.
It does make sense then that these buyers will take time to check out the merits of various locale possibilities…why here? Why not there? Often, that “being sure” means two or even three trips to a region, “checking it out”, before deciding to make an offer on a specific property.
Patience is important on the part of a seller. It just seems to take the time it takes to accomplish a sale in any secondary home/discretionary area.
The first decision is always: “I choose for Salt Spring”. Then a potential buyer will be serious about purchasing a property. Before that decision about choosing “for” the Island, as the destination, viewings occur without resulting offers.
Sales & Inventory Analysis
At the beginning of August, there are 135 residential listings (not separating out townhomes, single family homes, waterfronts). Of these, 69 are below one million; the majority are below 900,000. Over half the residential listings are priced over one million. Of these, 49 are listed between 1,020,000 and 1,999,900. Eleven are listed between 2,150,000 and 2,900,000. Four are listed between 3,200,000 and 3,895,000.
At the beginning of August, there are 135 residential listings (not separating out townhomes, single family homes, waterfronts). Of these,
69 are below one million;
the majority are below 900,000.
Over half the residential listings are priced over one million.
Of these, 49 are listed between 1,020,000 and 1,999,900.
Eleven are listed between 2,150,000 and 2,900,000.
Four are listed between 3,200,000 and 3,895,000.
At the start of August, there are 97 lots/acreages for sale (again, not separating out waterfronts), ranging from 148,800 to 2,495,000.
At the start of August, there are
97 lots/acreages for sale (again, not separating out waterfronts), ranging from 148,800 to 2,495,000.
By the beginning of August, there had been
89 “solds to date”, ranging between 135,000 and 1,700,000.
Fifty-seven of these were below 800,000, supporting a pattern that entry level residential offerings were the most active segment in the
first half of the year.
In the latter part of the year (August to year end), one often sees interest in upper tier priced properties filling in. It should be clear by mid-October what the upper tier property market sales trend will prove to be in 2019.
Salt Spring Lifestyle
Salt Spring Island enjoys a year-round lifestyle opportunity. Three ferries service Salt Spring, with consistent year-round service (to Vancouver, to Victoria, to mid-Vancouver Island). There are three elementary schools, a middle school, and a state of the art senior school. There is a hospital on Salt Spring and excellent care. There are regular year round floatplane companies servicing Salt Spring (to Vancouver airport and to downtown Vancouver). All services/amenities required for a pleasing 21st Century lifestyle are available on Salt Spring. It is not necessary to leave the Island, although it is easy to come and go.
Part of the Islands Trust, a body created by the provincial government in 1974, Salt Spring is also a part of the Trust’s mandate: to preserve and protect the environmental beauties of the Gulf Islands for the benefit of all B.C. residents. Salt Spring is not a municipality. Effectively, the Trust capped growth on all the Gulf Islands, via strict zoning/density bylaws. Two trustees are elected each civic election and also a CRD (Capital Regional District) director. Many of the wonderful things Salt Spring enjoys have been put in place by volunteers. Ask me about this!
Salt Spring and the Southern Gulf Islands are in a microclimate known as “cool Mediterranean”. More hours of sunshine/less rainfall than in other coastal communities. Orchards, vineyards, wineries, craft brewery, cideries, olive groves, cheesemaker’s, farmgate stands…the rural agrarian life is here. Taste your way around the Island!
An authentic artists community, Salt Spring also enjoys a rich cultural life. Ganges galleries, Studio Tour, ArtCraft, ArtSpring. SSNAP (Salt Spring National Art Prize), 2019. More info? Call me!
August offers B.C. Day Holiday Weekend fun, Saturday Market in the Park (one of the 10 best markets in Canada), the Tuesday Farmers Market, live music venues (Treehouse, Moby’s, Legion, Woodley’s), Wednesday evening sailing races, kayaking to Chocolate Beach, sunset viewing at Vesuvius Beach, dining al fresco around the town, whale watching tours, swimming in ocean & lakes, forest breathing, and…your fave summer choices are? Share!
Salt Spring is a delectable place to visit and a very special place to call home. How may I help you with your Salt Spring Island real estate needs? Call me! Your best interests are my motivation. I look forward to your call.
July, August, September are always the key months for tourism outcomes and for real estate activity, in our Gulf Islands marketplace.
Beginning of Season
I do these market reports at the beginning of each month, and so we are just starting into this year’s busier season. Inventory remains thin, and there are qualified buyers seeking a Gulf Islands/Salt Spring Island property.
Where is Salt Spring Island?
The Southern Gulf Islands are positioned between Vancouver, Victoria, and Seattle. With excellent ferry service (three different ferry routes service Salt Spring), and two year-round floatplane services, and with schools, a hospital, and all services/amenities provided on Island, Salt Spring offers a pleasing lifestyle…and all while enjoying the natural world protected by the Islands Trust (a non-growth policy, to preserve the environment on the Gulf Islands). This Trust has been in place since 1974.
Are Market Conditions the same on Salt Spring Island?
No area is immune from global intricacies, and the Gulf Islands did experience, along with most secondary home regions, an almost nine year downturn, after the 2008 economic collapses. During that time, inventory built up and there were few buyers around. The secondary home areas began to recover in March 2016 and, in spite of government tax measures to suppress real estate action in city markets, a slow improving trend was underway in all rural/discretionary regions.
Where is the market currently?
On Salt Spring, we have now arrived at the classic definition of a seller’s market: low inventory coupled with increased buyer desire. Price increases can be an outcome, over time.
It’s interesting that one local company reduced prices on almost all their listings in late May/early June. Also, in mid-June, a waterfront listed with another company sold for well above list price (which implies a “bidding war”). Transition periods are often characterized by different outcomes, all on the table at once.
As we enter July, there are 122 residential listings.
38 of these are below 799,000
59 of these are over one million
There are 88 lots/acreages listings
There are 77 “solds to date” (Solds range from 135,000 to 1,700,000).
Most owners do not want to be sellers, right now. The inventory of available listings is very low…as soon as one differentiates between price and type, this is immediately clear.
What is the impact of technology on real estate?
Along with the narrow specifics of our local marketplace, 2019 is ushering in the true 21st Century to the real estate industry as a whole.
PropTech has already visited our sister industry, the financial investment world. E-trade, for example, connects users directly with the means to trade. There is no middleman.
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, data mining, data-driven investing, globalization of search, changes to privacy of information, PropTech, tokenization of real estate, block chain technology that eliminates lawyers and realtors and puts sellers and buyers into direct touch, crypto currencies that avoid bank charges…real estate’s organization and execution will soon be different and very quickly so.
This is an interesting aspect when one considers a rural/discretionary property segment. Each property in a secondary home marketplace often mirrors the lifestyle of the owner…it’s even difficult for an appraiser…there are no comparables…each property is uniquely itself.
If one cannot use real comparisons to rank sales data, then how can cloud robotics state that such data is valid? Hmmm…perhaps this might mean that the interpretive voice of a knowledgeable local real estate agent will still be needed?
Definitely different days, and initial choices will be made on analyses of data. Interpretation of raw data will be important, but perhaps not at the beginning of an investor-buyer’s initial search. Data first…then interpretation…then it becomes information? Hmmm…..
So…how to position a seller’s property to catch maximum interest? So…how to facilitate an investor-buyer’s successful outcome? It is not business as usual, in this globally structured cloud universe.
Real Estate is a “People Business”
Real estate at its heart is a “people business”. Choices of location and style are often emotion based. We love a home. We feel at ease on a property. We are inspired by a location. These are emotional responses. Raw data is about statistical reports on past events, in an attempt, perhaps, at verifying future decisions.
Both are needed.
Happy Canada Day (July 1st)
Meantime: here we are at the very beginning of July (Canada’s birthday on July 1st and the U.S. celebration on the 4th). Salt Spring welcomes its visitors and both locals and visitors alike enjoy the many special summer events.
Saturday Market (one of Canada’s best), Tuesday Farmers Market, concerts in the Park (Tuesdays), sailing races (Wednesdays), kayaking to Chocolate Island, ArtCraft, Ganges galleries openings, Treehouse live music every evening, dining on a deck or patio (Salt Spring Inn, Auntie Pesto’s, Moby’s, Treehouse, Rock Salt, Piccolo’s, Kitchen), ArtSpring events. Forest breathing at Ruckle Park, Burgoyne Park, Channel Ridge trails. Wine tastings, cider tastings, craft brewery offerings. Salt Spring is a foodie paradise!
So many things to enjoy…look forward to hearing about your summer experience faves.
June. It’s a lovely hiatus month, between two real estate market moments: it straddles early Spring and Summer market patterns.
June also welcomes graduations, weddings, school’s out/summer holidays enthusiasm, and, on the great Pacific Northwest Coast, it can often be a showery weather month.
Gardens are in full array, roses are at their abundant bloom best, farmers markets, vineyard tastings…the opulence of Salt Spring’s rural heritage surrounds us.
Upper Tier & Entry Level Activity
At this hiatus moment, between two real estate sales patterns, it’s evident that entry level priced properties were where the action was in our short (due to weather vagaries between December 20 and end of March) early Spring cycle.
The upper tier priced properties don’t usually begin to see activity until after the Victoria Day Holiday Weekend, in mid-May.
Between mid-May and end of October, our real “season” takes place…and it invites buyers, in all price ranges and seeking all property types, to come forward to view.
The listing inventory remains very thin. We are seeing price reductions, but are also seeing that the very few new listings coming onstream are at higher price points than would have been the case in the previous year. Everything on the table at once means we are in a transition market…with an apparent upward momentum. Few listings, coupled with buyer desire, can lead to price increases. This outcome may not be evident until mid to late August.
I do this market update at the beginning of a month. June can have a “pause” in the first two weeks. Perhaps it’s about those family celebrations, but it might also be that late June begins summer travels and so early June is calmer.
At the beginning of June, then, we have 124 residential listings on the market. This does not separate out townhomes or waterfronts…it’s just residential/dwellings listings. There are 79 lots/acreages on the market. There have been 60 “solds to date”.
This is an extremely low listing inventory, particularly in the entry level priced categories. Most sales remain in that entry level price segment.
Of the 124 residential listings, at beginning of June
12 under 500,000
10 were under 700,000
19 were under 800,000
18 were listed below 900,000
7 listings were under 1,000,000
40 listings between 1 & 2,000,000
12 listings between 2 & 3,000,000
5 listings are between 3 & 4,000,000
Of the 79 lots/acreages, without separating out waterfronts, at beginning of June
27 were listed under 300,000
20 listed below 500,000
16 were listed below 600,000
10 were below 1,000,000
6 were listed between 1,020,000 and 2,495,000
Of the 60 “solds to date”
28 were below 600,000
12 sales below 800,000
10 sales were below 1,000,000
10 sales between 1,000,000 and 1,700,000
Patience in the Secondary Home Markets. Invaluable
Patience is a part of all sales in all secondary home markets. A decision to buy is a choice…no one “has to” move to Salt Spring. In deciding about that choice, there are always time lags. Buyers do look in competing areas, “just to be sure”. It can take three visits before a decision is made.
Obstacles Can Play a Role
There are always issues facing all communities: for Salt Spring, the lack of affordable housing/work rental is also a problem. There are three public (and one private) affordable housing/rental options that are funded and permitted and they cannot go ahead because of the water moratorium.
Brought in by the three volunteer board members of NSSWD (North Salt Spring Water District) in 2014/15, this effectively prohibited connections to the water systems. There may be a capture/distribution issue on Salt Spring, but there is not a water shortage issue.
The lack of work rental options led to the Trust bylaw enforcement officer shutting down airb&b/short term vacation rental options (STVR). This was done under the assumption that vacation rental landlords would then rent to regular annual tenants. This is the Trust response to lack of work rentals.
The lack of people wanting to rent to regular tenants has to do with the current provincial government’s change to the B.C. Tenancy Act. The government canceled the Fixed Tenancy option, in Fall, 2017. This is why people do not want to be landlords to regular tenants…unless the owner moves in, one cannot give notice to a tenant.
The underlying issue, lack of affordable housing/work rental, gets back to the volunteer driven NSSWD moratorium on connecting to water systems. In our non-municipal form of governance, there is a lack of proactive oversight.
Meantime, the summer-summer season begins with June…and visitors to Salt Spring generate the economic well being of business enterprises. Check with the Salt Spring Chamber of Commerce for more information.
So, lovely June is upon us. Time to dine al fresco on restaurant decks and patios, to enjoy live music venues (Treehouse Cafe, Moby’s, Woodley’s), to meander Ruckle Park trails, to go jump in the lake (St Mary’s, Cusheon, Weston, Stowell) and swim to your heart’s content, to paddle board off Vesuvius, to kayak to Chocolate Beach, to enjoy Saturday and Tuesday Markets, to simply “be”, and to definitely stop and smell those roses.
Seeking a real estate outcome on delectable Salt Spring Island? No matter the market trend in play at any given time, there is usually a way to make things work. Call me! Let’s discuss. Your best interests are my motivation.
The entire Pacific Northwest Coast region experienced a once-every-twenty-years winter season weather pattern, which erased the 2019 projected early market.
A hurricane force wind on December 20th, with resulting power outages and severe forest damage, was replaced by an Arctic Front and snowstorm sequences (no melt between storms, due to cold)…the result of all of this was to cause a cancellation of potential viewers/buyers. Christmas/New Year week and February’s Family Day Holiday Weekend were both affected by weather-induced pauses. The good news: everyone did rebook and March appears to have “busyness” at its heart.
Listings remain very low, in both residential and in undeveloped land options. With renewed buyer interest, coupled with this lack of owner desire to sell, we may see price escalation begin. It may take until late April/early May to see the true tone of this year, since weather issues have created a slow start to the market.
Vancouver Real Estate Market 2019
The Vancouver market is also beginning to reactivate, including in the higher end property segment. Vancouver sellers have been the main buyers on Vancouver Island and on the Gulf Islands, since mid-March, 2016. Hesitations from then to now can be attributed to various provincial government tax measures, specifically created to suppress the Vancouver market, plus El Nino/La Nina weather vagaries.
March to Spring
March sees the beginning of Spring, showcases the allure factors of Salt Spring, and invites market activity…to enjoy a property between late Spring and early Fall (the best weather months in our area), one pretty well has to buy in March/April.
Low Canadian Dollar against the U.S. dollar, low interest rates, lack of inventory that may drive future price increases (would see this, if turns out to be the case, by summer), and a renewed global seeking of a safe haven destination, are all reasons for increased action. The hesitations of 2018 (mostly a reaction to the many provincial government tax burdens in Vancouver) seem to be over.
How can you make this current market work for you?
How can you make this current market work for you? Whether a seller or a buyer, and no matter the market trend, there are always elements that can work to your benefit.
At the very beginning of March:
87 residential listings (not separating out waterfronts, townhomes, farms)
60 undeveloped land listings (lots/acreages)
14 commercial/business listings
10 sales to date, all residential, from 440,000 to 1,700,000.
It is more usual to see a total of 380 to 420 listings on Salt Spring…this lack of current inventory (147 residentially zoned options, including dwellings and undeveloped land), if continues, could lead to price escalation by the summer season.
March is an interesting month. It eases from winter into spring, daylight saving returns, and everywhere the resurgence of growth ignites our natural coastal beauty.
The Best Time to Visit Salt Spring Island
An annual Home and Garden show sponsored by the Salt Spring Chamber of Commerce takes place in mid-March and the beginning of the Saturday Market in the Park “season” is in place by month’s end. Live music continues at Moby’s, at Woodley’s, at the Legion. ArtSpring showcases special events. And the days are enticingly longer…time to rediscover Salt Spring’s hiking/walking trails, beachcombing pleasures, gallery spring openings…time to consider a garden.
April through October
Although Salt Spring is seasonless, in the sense that there is always something to discover and to enjoy, it is true that April to October are the famously most delightful months on the great Pacific Northwest Coast. March is the shaking off of winter and the preparation for “real Spring”. Time for all of us to mirror the month and to shake it up a little.
Thinking of real estate this March? Call me. Benefit from my knowledge of inventory and market trends. Your best interests are my motivation.