Tag Archives: salt spring island

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.

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.

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.

February 2015, Market Analysis

February 2015, Market Analysis – Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

The reminder from that savvy Ancient Greek, Heraclitus, that we never step in the same river water twice, is a thought to hold onto. As he noted, the only constant in life is change.

3-D printer, robotics revolution, driverless car…the word is out: humans need not apply. So, if the age of jobs is over, what next?

Is the age of travel also over? Violence is found in all places. Going out to buy bread or meet a friend for coffee can result in death by violence…a politically motivated person can take events into their own hands & too bad for you, in the corner of the cafe, minding your own business, with totally distant thoughts.

What did John Donne alert us to? Never send to ask for whom the bell tolls, for it tolls for thee? That, yes, & also the reminder that any man’s death diminishes us all.

So, as usual, the poets instruct us.

Cavafey, a recent Greek poet, reminded us that there’s no point in waiting for the barbarians to arrive…they are already here…they are us. Isn’t that the news that Pogo brought back from the swamp? I have seen the enemy & he is us?


Meantime, Voltaire suggested that we might want to just stay home & cultivate our own garden.

It’s difficult to offer specific outcomes in local real estate markets, when societal shifts of such a deep nature are in full swing. These societal shifts are shaping economic outcomes. Global rhythms shape specific regions…it’s called the global economy for a reason. No area is remote. The connectivity of the post-Internet world means the butterfly effect is in play.

A study of history, both far & immediate pasts, might be of some help when attempting an interpretive role.

When the Industrial Revolution exploded onto the centuries old agrarian lifestyle, it was a knife through an established & thus well understood pattern.

Today, technological innovation is slashing through the vestiges of the latter years of the 20th Century.

If you stand on the technology side of this shift, there is endless opportunity. If in the recent past…well…just read a George Eliot or Charles Dickens novel for some gloomier outcomes.



Big picture events colour our tiny lives. Within that frame, what does a move to Salt Spring Island, to a Gulf Island, to a Vancouver Island community offer?

Following Voltaire’s advice, a move to such rural coastal opportunities means experiencing community, means the ability to be self-sufficient, means the luxury of being slightly “apart”, without being isolated. These are safe haven venues. It is possible to be self-sustaining. More information? Call me!

Recent Salt Spring & Gulf Island sales appear to be predicting a shift from a buyers to a sellers market, in the secondary home markets. It is a slow but steady rhythm.

The tax assessments still reflect the past 7 year downturn. It may take until 2016 for the tax assessments to reflect recent sales volume uptick. Prices have not yet stabilized.

Thinning inventory will continue to highlight price stability…& possibly increases. The tail end of a transition period between market trends reflects both past & future, in the short-term.

Oceanfronts, oceanviews, acreages, building lots, residential, commercial, investment, recreational…varying types of properties, varying prices…your special property dream is out there, waiting for you.

I often find that the first two months of a new year follow the patterns of last two months of the previous year. Most sales have remained in that entry level residential segment. The spread between list & sale prices has been narrowing in this property segment…lower inventory encourages strengthening prices. Some recent sales in undeveloped land may also predict an uptick in a market. Sales growth in the upper tier priced residential market appears to be underway…price reductions at point of these sales remain dramatic.

The sudden collapse in commodities markets may have serious outcomes for the secondary home marketplaces. An Alberta buyer has been a traditional coastal purchaser.

It takes until mid-March to see the first aspects of a new year market take shape. March Break is the traditional beginning to the “season” on Salt Spring & the Gulf Islands.

I usually write my market thoughts at the beginning of a month. Between early January’s “report” & now, we saw events in France plus a continuing crash in the commodities markets…societal & economic shifts together can deliver a “pause” to a discretionary marketplace.

It’s important to act prudently. Should one make a lifestyle move to a softer/gentler place, & live more simply, & slightly “apart”? Hmmm…. Decisions, decisions. In change lies opportunity.

How may I help you to buy your special property on Salt Spring Island or on another Gulf Island or on Vancouver Island? Please contact me…your best interests are always my motivation.

Looking for information about specific areas? Information about properties and opportunities? Call me! Benefit from my knowledge (of inventory & market trends) and from my expertise (experience counts!).

January 2015, Market Analysis

January 2014, Salt Spring Island Real Estate

Welcome to these early days of the first month of a brand new year.

Ganges Harbour, Salt Spring Island
Named after Janus, the Roman god who looked behind & ahead, at the same time, January straddles what has been & what will be, in real estate outcomes.

Many indicators are out there that are predicting a strong transition from a down to an up market, in the secondary home marketplaces, & globally so.

Salt Spring Island, the Gulf Islands, & Vancouver Island are often the tail of the dog in a market recovery. A recovery is never even-handed. Some places & some property types recover faster than others. The good news: if every story has a beginning & a middle & an end, then here, on the coastal “rim”, we are at the close of the transition “middle ground” between market trends.

The beginning of the recovery might be seen as having become visible by October 2013. It began with sales volume increase in the entry level residential category. Prices did not stabilize.

By October 2014, all property types were finding interested buyers (undeveloped land, higher end residential offerings, thinning inventory in entry level residential options, which helped to solidify prices, & even commercial sales began to occur).

No market ever stays up or down

No market ever stays up or down. Since late 2013, then, our slow coastal region’s recovery, in discretionary areas, had begun.
Ganges Harbour
I often think that secondary home sales mirror the fine art world’s sales pattern…perhaps within six months. The late Fall 2014 art action at the auction houses would seem to point towards an active secondary home sales rhythm to be in place by April/May of 2015.

Perhaps safe haven investing is the biggest motivator to sales in a discretionary/recreational marketplace, right now. If there is a concern about currencies, then a hard asset purchase might be an outcome of such a worry. It’s about preservation of capital. The plus of self-sufficiency might be an alluring factor for choosing Salt Spring & a Gulf Island as the destination. Our lower Canadian dollar against the U.S. dollar is also often an attractor to a buyer, for our area.


January is a good time to attend investment conferences…listen well. Soak in the prevailing thought. Read investment articles…catch the vibe. Being informed is always the best first step in decision making.

It’s also important to act. The buyers market conditions are dissipating in the secondary home regions. Between now & April, we may see the “deals” evaporating. It has been a long seven year downturn in “by choice” markets. Indecision meant buyer inaction. That is over. Short-term, the upper tier priced residential opportunities may still see some price spreads between list & sale. The entry level market has seen price solidity develop.

If you have long dreamed of owning & enjoying a Salt Spring & Gulf Islands property, now is your moment to buy. The market is shifting upwards…which results in less inventory & higher prices. That’s the description of a sellers market.