Tag Archives: salt spring island

April 2021, Salt Spring Island Market Analysis

Here we are at April 1st. The beginning of real Spring. Early April mirrors March…late April is a forerunner of amazing May. April is a shift month.

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

 

Salt Spring Island, A Unique & Creative Space to Call Home

Whatever the season or weather pattern, beautiful Salt Spring and the Southern Gulf Islands welcome one…these islands nestled in the Salish Sea are unique and creative spaces to call home.

Is It Easy to Move to Salt Spring Island?

Real estate in the Gulf Islands is always slightly apart from larger market trends. The form of governance in these islands is a provincial government body known as the Islands Trust.

Created in 1974 by the government, to “preserve and protect” the environmental beauties of the islands for the benefit of all B.C. residents, the Trust has curtailed growth (via strict zoning/bylaws). This effective cap on growth ensured that the Gulf Islands would remain these lovely park-like entities.

A cap on growth means that, over time, these islands will become enclave areas that one will have to be able to afford…already, they are not entry level pricing areas. First time buyers are not usual, without family help.

Mount Baker

Mount Baker

What was B.C.’s response to covid?

B.C.’s first response to covid was to shut down/require people to stay at home. A ten week covid closure was in place by March 12/20. Around June 23/20, restrictions were softly lifted and Immediately a strong real estate sales pattern clicked into place. The allure of a rural lifestyle was the theme.

Starting with entry level residential and then including affordable lots/acreages, the inventory thinned out and price points on Salt Spring began to rise…“bidding wars” occurred by mid-February 2021. Around late February/early March 2021, the higher end/luxury properties segment caught sales interest.

The Vancouverite Migration

Almost all buyers were from Vancouver and they were wanting to live permanently on Salt Spring. Sale prices to date range from 199,000 to 5,645,000. The volume of sales to the end of March now match an entire year’s sales in previous recent times.

So, at this very beginning of April, we have 39 residential properties listed. Townhomes, waterfront, view, farms are not separated out…it’s just residential/dwellings.

  • 15 listings are between 349,000 and 995,000.
  • There are 13 listings between 1,069,000 and 1,985,000.
  • There are currently 5 listings between 2 million and 2,699,900. One listing is at 4,995,000.
  • There is a listing at 5,995,000.
  • A farm parcel is listed at 6,688,800.
  • An acreage is asking 12,000,000
  • a waterfront acreage is on at 14,000,000.
  • A waterfront farm is asking 14,000,000.

We have 45 land listings at this very beginning of April, again not separating out type…just undeveloped land options. Prices range from 239,000 to 2,495,000

  • There have been 77 solds to date
  • There were 58 sales below one million
  • 14 sales between one and two million
  • 4 sales between two and three million
  • and one sale over five million

This extraordinarily thin inventory of listings is partly due to strong buyer action. It also reflects owner reluctance to be a seller. Unless they “have to” sell, most owners are choosing to “hold”.

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

A Hyperbolic Market

One recent scenario: one entry level priced listing and twelve buyers for it, resulting in a listing agent stating a time for all offers to be presented, no ability for a buyers agent to present their offer, the offers all seen by the seller at same time and a choice then made. This kind of outcome is why many buyers put in unconditional offers and also why the offers are “over ask”. It’s a hyperbolic market everywhere. Salt Spring is no exception. Will it last? Ah…the key question.

A Lifestyle Rewrite

The lifestyle rewrite in this post-pandemic moment is the main propeller to rural real estate activity, throughout B.C. Vancouver sellers remain the main buyers in all the secondary home venues. Recreating a life script is a strong motivator to action and this does not seem to have run its course…perhaps it’s just beginning?

Salt Spring Island & Land Banking

Also to be considered: the desire for safe hard asset investment, as a way to preserve capital in an era of printing press currencies and fears of inflation. Land banking is one such outcome. Current low interest rates invite buyer ability to buy. The societal shift to all things digital and the “work from home” ethic have become mainstream, which allows a rural move. Everything seems to have coalesced…the perfect storm, if you will.

Lack of inventory may continue for some time. An outcome will be serious price escalation.

There is always opportunity, no matter the background noise of daily events.

Are you thinking of selling? Call me…I look forward to sharing my knowledge of this current sellers market trend. You may decide to “hold”…you may decide to sell. “Of the moment” market knowledge is essential to make that important decision. I look forward to connecting with you. As a top selling agent, I bring to your benefit my expertise, plus creative and productive marketing solutions (local and global), and a solid understanding of the sale process.

March 2021, Salt Spring Island Market Analysis

First Whispers of “The Season”

It’s here…the month that sees the segue from winter-into-spring. Gulf Islanders/Salt Springers recognize March as the month that brings the first whispers of “the season”.

Mid-March to mid-October is often seen as the best weather time in the great Pacific Northwest Coast, and Salt Spring and the Southern Gulf Islands benefit from a “cool Mediterranean” micro-climate. Less rainfall/more hours of sunshine…a welcome temperate pattern.

Even with the ongoing closures and pauses and delays of covid, this time of year brings with it a special enjoyment…that awakening of the earth that Spring delivers. Gardens and orchards and roadside bushes flower forward. Longer days. Sun warmth at patio coffee stops. Beauty everywhere.

The real estate market on Salt Spring is now mirroring the same explosion of sales first experienced in Vancouver and then fanning out to Sunshine Coast, to the Interior, to Victoria, and to Vancouver Island. Now it is occurring on Salt Spring and on the Gulf Islands.

The inventory of listings is shockingly low.

Most buyers are still from Vancouver. There are now multiple offers and “bidding wars” in some price ranges. Buyers do have to put their best foot forward.

Hastings House

Hastings House

The Vancouver sellers do become the buyers in all the rural/secondary home markets. The Vancouver market, which did suppress between 2017 and 2019, because of provincial government taxation measures to do so, is perhaps being driven by sales to Hong Kong based residents, with Canadian passports. These buyers ignore the provincial 20% offshore purchase tax.

It appears to be a lifestyle rewrite that is underway.

Many things are occurring: the initial covid shut-downs in 2020 pushed everyone into the digital world. The ability to work from home is now accepted as mainstream. Extraordinarily low interest rates. A desire to leave the city. A concern over all the monies being printed by governments…the seeking of preservation of capital by turning to hard asset investments. Hmmm…a perfect storm? Maybe.


Sales Data March 2021

So, at this very beginning of March, there are 31 residential listings on Salt Spring Island, not separating out waterfront, view, townhome.

  • 11 of these residential listings are between 445,000 and 998,000
  • 9 listings between 1,069,000 and 1,985,000
  • One listing at 3,100,000
  • One listing at 4,995,000
  • One listing at 5,995,000
  • One listing at 6,688,800
  • One listing at 12,000,000
  • Two listings at 14,000,000

Only 11 fall into the category of “entry level” pricings. Hmmm….. usually there might be over 200 residential listings available. This is a sellers market.

At this very beginning of March, there are 49 land listings, ranging from 239,900 to 2,495,000. (Not separating out lots, acreages, view, waterfront). Land listings up to 500,000 remain the most active, at this moment.


At this very beginning of March, there have been 51 “solds to date”. That is a huge increase in sales in the first two months of the year.

  • Seven sales have been between 199,000 and 298,000
  • Four sales have been between 430,000 and 455,000
  • Six sales have been between 505,000 and 552,000
  • Ten sales have been between 605,000 and 685,000
  • Four sales were between 730,000 and 799,000
  • Three sales were between 800,000 and 878,500
  • Five sales took place between 900,000 and 979,000
  • Eleven sales took place between 1,015,000 and 1,850,000
  • One sale took place at 5,645,000

For the first time in several years, consistent high end sales are underway. It appears that the Vancouver buyers plan to live on Salt Spring…these are not recreational only buyers.

Not Since 9/11

The entry level residential options and the lower priced land options have all sold. The last time we saw a lifestyle rewrite was after 9-11. Between 2003 and 2006, there were few listings and prices rose by 60%. However, at that time, owners, who may have wanted to cash out, did start to slowly list.

Salt Spring Island Coast

Salt Spring Island Coast

Right now, though, with the faceless potential killer of covid still with us, most owners want to sit tight. Where would they go? Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands offer the allure of safety, in their cohesive apartness. The arrival of consistent vaccinations may be the solution to this treading water time.

Still on Hold, Virtually

Meantime, March sings its way through our lives and the Gulf Islands are offering virtual reminders of their pleasures. Loved events will be on hold until next year, as the provincial government prohibition on gatherings continues. It’s interesting, that virtual connection. Neither good nor not good…just different.

Meantime, on Salt Spring, hike the Mt Erskine Trail, picnic at Ruckle Park, watch the floatplanes chortle in and out in Ganges Harbour, enjoy a coffee break on a patio or deck (many to choose from…try them all), sunset watch from Vesuvius Beach, kayak out to Chocolate Island beach, and always always follow the protocols and support local.

Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands swim enticingly in the Salish Sea. Their welcome is always there.

January 2021, Salt Spring Island Market Analysis

Salt Spring Island
Salt Spring Island

January is named for the Roman god Janus…he had two faces, one looking back to the past and one looking straight ahead, into the future. At this very beginning moment of 2021, it’s clear that we are looking forward into pivotal change.

Roman god Janus
Roman god Janus

The various closures in 2020, propelled by governments trying to control the covid-19 virus, unleashed a shift to the online world. Now that this acceptance of a digital environment has become the new normal, it means that new and dynamic communication formats will just be the surround sound of our time. If you are not in, you will be out.

Nothing is untouched. For techies, who have for years been able to work from anywhere, this is just how things are. For the rest of us, the learning curves may be deep or shallow…but evolve we must.

Is Rural Living the new ‘Chic’?

In times of extreme change, it’s important to be practicing our periphery vision. No leaning forward to go down prepared tunnels of information…instead, lean back and take in that 180 vista that periphery vision allows…that’s where creative change lies.

With the immediacy of data today, anyone anywhere can think about outcomes and so can create ways and means to go forward. Hmmm….in this digital universe, how might we create lifestyle scripts that allow us to successfully embrace change? There’s the challenge.

Meantime, short-term, at this beginning day of January, we note in real estate that the 2020 pandemic pushed city dwellers into seeking rural lifestyles. The ability to work from home, coupled with a desire for space, for an apart area with pleasing lifestyle options but away from city issues, created an upsurge in real estate sales in all rural communities, across Canada, and that includes Salt Spring Island and the Gulf Islands.

Revising Our Life’s Script

 Salt Spring Island
Salt Spring Island

We enter 2021, on Salt Spring, with a shockingly low inventory and with a strong buyer desire. In 2020, most owners did not want to be sellers…this helped to keep inventory low. As properties sold, nothing new came on to take their place. Prices stabilized.

There appears, in response to the covid pandemic, a desire for people to rewrite their life script. The allure of the rural is definitely a part of this.

The last time this lifestyle rewrite was evident was just after 9-11. In response to that former time’s sales volume increase and resulting low inventory, we saw substantial price increases in the Gulf Islands. Will we also see this as we progress through 2021? Perhaps…projections are calling for continuing interest in rural regions, continuing low inventory, continuing buyer demand.

Current Inventory Gulf Islands, 2021

At this exact moment in time, then, at the very beginning of January on Salt Spring, we have 39 residential listings, of which:

  • 23 are listed between 299,000 and 998,500
  • 15 are listed between 1,025,000 and 1,985,000
  • Five listed between 2,000,000 and 2,625,000
  • One listing at 3,100,000
  • One listing at 5,900,000
  • One listing at 6,688,800
  • One listing at 12,000,000
  • Two listings at 14,000,000
  • 54 land listings
  • 9 commercial listings
Salt Spring Island
Salt Spring Island, Skywater

This inventory count might sound like a lot of choices, but as soon as one puts in the desired parameters (for example: 3 bed/2 bath, a view, good sun, good water, no huge renovations required, quiet area, close to town, budget up to 800,000), then there might be only two listings on the entire island that would meet that wish list.

Recent Real Estate Sales on Salt Spring

There were 237 sales in 2020. Prices were between 120,000 and 2,600,100. Most sales were below 998,000, but there were several sales between 1,005,000 and 1,950,000. There were 7 sales between 2,050,000 and 2,600,100.

Sales volume was up in 2020 over 2019, with most sales occurring after the first pandemic shut-down…on Salt Spring, residential sales began around June 23rd and undeveloped land sales started slowly around early November. Vancouver sellers remain the main buyer profile in all the secondary home markets.

The Islands Trust, a government body created in 1974, “to preserve and protect” the environmental beauties of the Gulf Islands, for the benefit of all B.C. residents, used severe zoning/bylaws restrictions to control growth. By doing so, the Trust ensured that property prices would (over time) escalate…a desire to own and a control of inventory are always factors on all Gulf Islands. Connect that perpetual governance model of controlled growth with a market upsurge in sales volume, and price rises may be the outcome.

With less inventory, there may be fewer sales going forward and prices may escalate. It usually takes until early March to see the tone of a year, in real estate activity. Stay tuned.

Digital Transformation

Traditionally, the coastal secondary home/recreational marketplace goes from mid-March to mid-October, but the always-on digital universe may erase this “March Break to Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend” grid of activity. New visual ways to market property may result in people buying properties without physically viewing. Stay tuned.

The work from home dynamic and the turn to online shopping, forced on everyone during the pandemic closures, make change inevitable for commercial real estate. The owners of office towers and shopping centers in major urban regions will need to consider how to respond. A repurposing of such commercial spaces will need to take place.

Locally, the Islands Trust has an opportunity to repurpose Ganges Village…to perhaps allow empty second floor offices to become rental living spaces. The Trust could also allow empty street level stores to allow live/work options. Creative thinking is required. Time, indeed, for 1974 (the year the provincial government created the Islands Trust) to meet up with 2021 requirements.

Salt Spring Island, Real Estate Office
Salt Spring Island, Real Estate Office

Pandemic & Tourism on Salt Spring

Tourism has been very hard-hit all over Canada as a result of covid pandemic edicts to stay home/only essential travel encouraged. With a visitor-centric economy on the Gulf Islands/Salt Spring Island, how will this tourism aspect be successfully revitalized?

Words like resilience and recovery are meaningless without creative changes…which brings us back to the Islands Trust. As the form of governance on the Gulf Islands, are the trustees and planners on Salt Spring wearing Janus’ backward gazing face or are they seeing with his forward direction stare? We should be asking.

Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands are beautiful regions and the Trust did “preserve and protect” them for the benefit of all B.C. residents. To ensure this protective quality, going forward, the inadequacies of the Trust’s oversight do need to be addressed. Asking questions of both the Trust and the CRD is the way to ensure that the alluring lifestyle enjoyed on Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands continues.

Looking Ahead & Embracing Change

So, at the beginning of this first month of a New Year, let’s look forward…no point in turning to gaze behind us. The pre-covid time is gone. Time now to remember Alice Through The Looking Glass…she had to run very fast, just to stay still. We are at the very beginning of new ways to be. Let’s embrace change. Scary? Only until we get used to it. And your thoughts are? Always welcomed.

How may I help you to achieve your real estate goals in 2021? Whether selling or buying, benefit from my expertise, knowledge, innovative marketing ideas, and experience. Your best interests truly are my motivation. Look forward to your call.

December 2020, Salt Spring Island Market Analysis

'Tis the Season, 2020

We have arrived at the very beginning of December, in this most awkward and disturbing year.

Covid, and its attendant government closures to flatten the curve of this potentially deadly virus, have caused several interruptive pauses throughout 2020.

Although the calendar says Winter starts officially around December 20th, we in the great Pacific Northwest Coast know that November signals the seasonal shift in our region.

‘Tis the Season (of 2020)

Real Estate on Salt Spring Up or Down?
Salt Spring Island in the Snow

A darker time of year, coupled with continuing covid closures, is disturbing to many…and afflicts many businesses struggling to survive.

It’s rare that the Southern Gulf Islands get snow…when it happens, islanders love to take photos…and when it occurs, it doesn’t last long. I always think that Winter in this area is like a long late Fall or a lengthy early Spring…depending on one’s point of view. Shorter days are a factor.

Covid has cancelled the seasonal traditional pleasures at this December time of year. It is so important to listen to the shop local, think local, be local messaging in each small community. The hope is that visitor-centric communities will see business survival over the winter season.

People in many locales are decorating, putting seasonal lights up, and doing it earlier. A great idea! To be a billboard of light, for those passing our homes, gives such pleasure…maybe that’s our holiday gift to family, friends, neighbours.

How is Covid-19 affecting Salt Spring Island?

And what about real estate in the time of covid? That first closure, on March 12th, which lasted for 10 weeks, and a bit longer on the Gulf Islands (travel is tied to ferry schedules and they had to reinstate routes and sailings), signaled a lifestyle change. City dwellers, able to work via the internet and thus able to choose a rural area for their year-round living choice, began to check out all the secondary home/rural regions.

Snow on Lake in BC
Snow on Lake on Salt Spring Island, BC

Hong Kong Chinese, many with Canadian passports, looked beyond the provincial government tax suppression measures that had caused a pause in Vancouver sales (between 2017 and 2019). Suddenly, Vancouver sellers were turning up in all secondary home regions as buyers, and this also ignited sales on Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands.

Is the Real Estate Market Up or Down in BC?

Locally, the market clicked into place around June 23rd, for residential properties. Vancouver sellers had sold a house and needed a house at this end. To begin with, most sales were below 800,000…and then the price point went steadily up to around 1.4. A handful sold between 2 & 3 million. There may have been price reductions en route to an offer and there were still many price reductions at the point of an offer.

Undeveloped Land On the Gulf Islands

Real Estate on Salt Spring Up or Down?
Real Estate on Salt Spring Up or Down?

Now, at the beginning of December, the inventory for residential listings is exceptionally low. Very recently, we have seen buyers starting to consider buying an undeveloped land parcel and to begin a building project. This usually occurs as soon as good residential options have evaporated. It often presages, too, price escalation. At this moment, prices have stabilized.

So, at this very beginning of December…approximately…

  • 55 residential listings
  • 66 land listings.
  • 220 “solds to date”

The inventory of available listings remains extremely low and sales volume has increased over the year, in spite of various covid-related closures.

Salt Spring Island Market Trajectory 2020-2021

Projections are calling for continuing interest in rural regions, and with price increases for any new listings may be on the rise. It is not expected that inventory will increase substantially. Low inventory and high buyer demand usually lead to price escalation. It may take until late February to see the tone of 2021.

Rare whiteout day on Salt Spring Island
Rare whiteout on Salt Spring Island

When will the Canada-U.S. Border Reopen

No place is apart from global outcomes. A change of government in the U.S. will affect Canada. A majority NDP government in B.C. will affect provincial outcomes.? A vaccine against covid will bring change. A re-opened Canada-U.S. border may allow the re-emergence of a traditional buyer in the Gulf Islands. Change, change, everywhere a change…..

Hard asset investment may be another reason why real estate is looked on favourably right now. What I call “land bankers” are now recently turning up to look at undeveloped land parcels. The Islands Trust, a provincial government body created in 1974, did cap growth through its strict zoning bylaws. This cap on growth, over time, is appealing to that investor-buyer.

The season/weather is actually irrelevant in our Gulf Islands area. Although more people might visit Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands in the summer months, it is very usual to see Fall-Winter offers/sales. The Gulf Islands are “seasonless” regions and real estate interest and outcomes occur year-round.

How may I help you to fulfill your Gulf Islands and Salt Spring Island desired real estate outcomes? Look forward to hearing from you.

November 2020, Salt Spring Island Market Analysis

I always think the calendar shift between seasons is a month out on the Pacific Northwest Coast. To me, November is the bringer of Winter.

Daylight Saving Time has returned to Standard Time, and the shorter days are with us. Temperatures cool. Rainy days that live up to the “wet coast” description come and go. Grey is the palette.

The continuing covid-19 restrictions (no large gatherings, social distancing, staying home if not feeling well, frequent hand-washing, sanitizer if not possible, wearing of masks in interior spaces) mean cancellation of loved seasonal events.

Autumn in Salt Spring Island, BC


Online meetings, online shopping, online family and friends visits, online education, online medical, online legal advice….yes, it’s communication, but it’s very different from in-person meet-ups. It’s neither good nor not-good…it’s just different.

Marshall McLuhan, back in the 1970s, alerted us that “the medium is the message”. He was implying that our communication methods shape us. Is the online method making us observers instead of participants?

Meantime, lovely Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands continue to shimmer forward, and to remind us of the beauty of all seasons in this region.

View from Skywater in Salt Spring, British Columbia

Real estate? At the very start of November, we continue to experience thin inventory and buyer desire remains high. Prices appear to have stabilized, although there remain many reductions at the point of a sale.

137 residential listings

  • 36 listings between 299,000 and 998,500
  • 23 listings between 1,025,000 and 1,998,500
  • 7 listings available between 2,000,000 and 2,700,000
  • One listing at 3,100,000
  • One listing at 5,900,000
  • One listing at 12,000,000
  • Two listings at 14,000,000

70 land listings

  • 60 listings between 149,000 and 995,000
  • 7 listings between 1,020,000 and 1,395,000
  • 3 listings between 2,150,000 and 2,495,000

211 sales to date

  • 157 sales between 120,000 and 998,000.
  • 48 sales between 1,017,000 and 1,900,000
  • 6 sales between 2,050,000 and 2,600,100

Price reductions were seen in most transactions at the point of the offer, and price reductions were also still taking place en route to that “last list price”, before the accepted offer.

About Salt Spring In the Winter?

Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands are secondary home markets. Buyers choose to come to Salt Spring and to the other Gulf Islands. No one “has to”. It still takes time, and two visits if not three, for that interested buyer to choose the “where”.

Buyers want to be sure, before committing to the specific island…it’s always a two-step dance. Choose the island and then decide on the property.

As good residential inventory cleans out, there is more interest in undeveloped land and a building project.

There are now many opportunities to showcase a property online. For several years, I have offered 3-D image rich plans and also video walk-throughs and drone videos. Now, these are just required items. Buyers, in spite of these specialty visual marketing options, are often asking realtors to do a face time walk through. Is the next step buying without an on site visit? Perhaps.

salt spring views

What is the Secondary Home Market Like in BC, Canada?

In past years, approximately 50 % of the buyers in the secondary home venues were from the U.S. and Alberta. The closing of the border back in March means no U.S. tourists and no potential buyers. Previously, U.S. & Albertans were recreational.

Since 2016, most buyers have been from Vancouver, and they plan to live in their new areas. This is another reason why it takes two (and often three) visits before choosing for Salt Spring or a Gulf Island…it’s that “being sure” thing, again.

November is the beginning of Winter here, regardless of what the calendar says. Yes, Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands enjoy that “cool Mediterranean” micro-climate and there are more sunny days/less rain than anywhere on the coast. Warmer, less rain, a temperate climate that allows for orchards, olive groves, vineyards, wineries, cideries, craft brewery…lucky us! Salt Spring offers a year-round lifestyle. Questions? Call me!

So…no large gatherings, cancellation of most seasonal events…a different kind of November, indeed, in the time of covid.

What’s Really Important?

Important to pay attention to what is there, right in front of us, to experience and to enjoy. Whether selling, buying, or resting in place, we are in a beautiful environment, with a soft climate, and no thing remains the same forever. When our new normal finally arrives, will we be ready?

That winter pasture, looking sere and lifeless on its surface, is busy at the root level…when Spring arrives that eruption of new growth is suddenly there. Right now is perhaps our “tending the roots” moment.

So: read a fat book, collate family recipes to gift on to younger generations, cook from scratch, light candles for dinner, be cosy by the fireplace, write your memoirs, be totally at ease in the online world (lots of tutorials to look to)…if that’s our surround sound, then let’s be fully immersed in it. Plant bulbs…be wonderfully surprised when they flower forward in February. Decorate for Christmas and give pleasure to others.

October 2020, Salt Spring Island Market Analysis

Is it Fall of 2020?

Livestock
Livestock

October. Here we are…at the 4th quarter in a year’s activity.

It’s also the continuation of the Harvest season…with the Canadian Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend in mid-month.

Covid…whether it’s considered a second wave or just the continuation and possible mutation of the first…remains the background to our days.

Most of us find ourselves saying “these are different days” and they are.

Squash
Squash

As the days shorten, and it cools in the evenings, the restaurants that relied on creative outdoor seating arrangements are grappling with how to social distance when back inside.

Ferries, grocery stores, retail are now making wearing of masks mandatory. Be prepared.

It is flu and cold season, along with covid virus, and the social distancing when out in public, the staying home when not feeling well, and the government encouragement to keep our contact groups small, are all features of this seasonal shift to Fall.

Veggies & Harvest on Salt Spring Island
Veggies & Harvest on Salt Spring Island

Covid has cancelled or re-imagined to a virtual platform many Island events (Fall Fair, Sip and Savour, Apple Fest, Salty Awards, craft fairs, Christmas on Salt Spring among others). Canadians are being encouraged by the federal and provincial governments to forego large family gatherings at Thanksgiving. All meetings and AGMs of various groups are also continuing to be held virtually.

Is The Past Prologue?

Marshall McLuhan reminded us in the 1970s that “the medium is the message”. Our communication methods create us as a species. Online is a talking head process. Will this make us into a species of observers and not participants? What then of Aristotle’s dictum that we are social animals? Hmmm….deep stuff here. Needs some thought. Change is the only constant. Virtual, though, is not the same as “in person”.

Till

So, here we are, at the very beginning of October. In real estate, in all rural/secondary home regions, inventory has thinned right out. That province-wide 10 week shut-down, that began on March 12th, created a huge desire on the part of city dwellers to get to rural/secondary home regions. The Sunshine Coast, the Gulf Islands, Vancouver Island, the Interior communities…all of them experienced a strong real estate sales uptick as soon as the government allowed phase one recovery.

Market Stats:

At this very beginning of October, then, we see

  • 84 residential listings on Salt Spring. This does not separate out waterfronts or farms or acreages…it is just all residential options that are still available.
  • They range in price from $420,000 to $14,000,000. (There are approximately 48 listings between $420,000 and $998,500. There are approximately 24 listings between $1,025,000 and $1,998,500. There are 6 listings between $2,000,000 and $2,700,000. There are 2 listings at $3,128,000 and $3,200,000. There is one listing at $6,688,800, another at $12,000,000, and two at $14,000,000).
  • At this beginning day of October, we see 69 land listings. Again, not separating out waterfront or farms or acreages…just undeveloped land options.
  • The available land opportunities range between $129,000 and $2,495,000. (There are approximately 60 listings between $129,000 and $995,000. There are 6 listings between $1,020,000 and $1,395,000. There are 3 listings between $2,150,000 and $2,495,000).
  • There have been 171 “sales to date”. In this unexpectedly busy year, we are seeing an increase in sales over 2 million (not a feature of our market between 2017 and late 2019).
  • (There have been 121 sales between $120,000 and $998,000. There have been 43 sales between $1,017,000 and $1,900,000. There have been 6 sales between $2,050,000 and $2,600,100).

Rural Shift Continues

The buyers in 2020 continue to be mainly from Vancouver and the desire to redo lifestyles and move to rural areas are the drivers of activity. It is a rewriting of one’s life script.

Bees
Bees

Vancouver buyers plan to live in the location they choose as their destination area…they take time as they first interview the areas they are considering, and so they do check out other rural regions before deciding “for” Salt Spring.

There are few new listings coming onstream to replace the “solds”. Unless they “have to”, most owners of rural properties are holding…they do not want to become sellers.

Thin inventory and high buyer demand can often lead to price escalation. At moment, it seems to be about price stability.

Conditions for Volatility Remain

Next year? There are many variables, including outcomes of elections this Fall, and the continuation of covid responses…the move to hard asset investments may also continue. If so, and inventory remains low, we may see serious price escalation begin. The Island Trust’s cap on growth and the continuing historically low interest rates will both be a part of this.

More information on market trends? Call me! Benefit from my knowledge, expertise, and experience. Your best interests truly are my motivation.

Meanwhile, beautiful October has arrived. Described by the English poet, John Keats, as the “season of mellow fruitfulness”, it is a segue from late summer into winter…enjoy its many Harvest pleasures.

Is Salt Spring Island A Tourist Destination?

The trails for walking/hiking beckon, sailing races have switched from Wednesday evening to Sunday afternoon, the restaurants and coffee stops continue their covid protocols and are offering seasonal delights. The Saturday and Tuesday markets are still underway. Farm gate stands await your pleasure. The Ganges galleries continue to showcase their artists. Watch the ArtSpring newsletter for upcoming events and look for the winter version of ArtCraft (social distancing in place for both, of course).

Salt Spring may have moved into a slower lane, but it remains a treasured place to visit in this softer season.

Li Read - Real Estate Office
Li Read – Real Estate Office

Salt Spring and the Southern Gulf Islands are always lovely, but there is a special beauty on the great Pacific Northwest Coast that belongs to the Fall season and to October in particular.