April 2014, Market Analysis

Here we are at the beginning of April, with Spring totally visible, & with a very encouraging consistent buoyancy finally appearing in the local secondary home real estate market. At last!

Our very seasonal Gulf Islands real estate sales market now takes place between March Break & Thanksgiving Weekend. March Break was the busiest I’ve seen it in almost six years. A very good sign.

A good foretelling …

March Break usually foretells the rhythm of the summer season. Yes, it’s still mainly active in entry level residential, but the action is steady & is clearing out a lot of inventory.

At this early moment in the sales cycle, the business always takes place in that entry level residential category. In the main, single family home properties listed between 300,000 & 600,000 catch the most attention…3 bed/2 bath, with rental options. Recreational cottage properties, even waterfronts, remain quiet. These buyers usually arrive later in the season…perhaps tied to the boating season.

As we continue along our market cycle, however, I think we will find sales volume occurring in all property prices & types, including in some undeveloped land opportunities.

I’ve always thought that raw land sales mark the turn into a true sellers market. Buyers are again willing to hold land as an investment, or to develop it? Then we’ve turned a corner into sellers market territory.

I think 2014 will be the year of total recovery in the secondary home marketplace, but it may take until late October to fully understand the dynamics…right now, we’re just at the beginning of the shift into better times.

Down markets have beginnings/middles/ends…transition markets also have beginnings/middles/ends…I think we’re at the end of the beginning of a transition between a down & an up market.

In a transition, everything is there at same time: price reductions, price stability, price increases…buyer insecurity & reluctance, buyer rush to secure a safe haven investment…downward worries, upward enthusiasm. It’s all swirling around at the same time.

Nothing remains down or up; a market is a wave pattern…the slide up the wave does seem to be underway, at last, in all secondary home/discretionary areas, & globally so. Two years ago, one couldn’t give away recreational retreat properties in Greece or Spain or Portugal. Now, these markets are hopping!

The Pacific Northwest Coast (including Vancouver Island, Salt Spring Island & the other Gulf Islands) has always been the tail of the dog: last to go down & last to go up. Finally the uptick experienced in other discretionary regions has arrived here.

As this season progresses, then, we can expect to see consistent sales volume. As inventory decreases, with little new coming onstream to replace it, we will see price stability. This will segue into price increases as that good old economic axiom kicks in: the law of supply & demand drives real estate markets.

It may be that a seeking of a safe haven is the motivating force behind the interest in the Gulf Islands. The buyer profile may have changed, but the desire to own beauty, privacy, with proximity to major centres, combined with an easy apartness & a cap on growth (Islands Trust), all ensures that the Islands will always find their special & appreciative buyer.

There are many societal changes afoot, mostly as a result of the internet’s broad brush scrubbing through. The real estate industry has changed & continues to do so.

The treading water inaction in real estate sales, though, in the secondary home/rural marketplace, over the past five to six years, is over.

It will be very interesting to arrive at early November & look back at the pattern of this clearly shift year. We have just started our season & the good news is that March Break was busy! Let’s see what April & Easter Break bring….

The uptick is not uniform in occurrence, every property & area sells in its own time, but eventually all sellers will have the opportunity to sell. Buyer desire is back.

Should a seller sell? Might it make better sense to hold an Island investment, if possible? Hmmm…that’s definitely a sellers market quandary!

Buyers interested in a Salt Spring & Gulf Islands purchase are seeking the opportunity to enjoy that yesteryear lifestyle, with all the conveniences of “now”. The Trust’s zoning/bylaws to control growth, in place since 1974, mean limited inventory over time. That seems to spell protected investment.

In change, lies opportunity.

More information on current market trend & how you can benefit from it? Call me!

Your best interests are my motivation.