Market Analysis

Salt Spring Island real estate in depth monthly analysis by Sea to Sky Properties’ broker, Li Read

January 2022, Salt Spring Island Market Analysis

A New Year on Salt Spring Island, 2022

A new year. As we step into this very beginning of 2022, it’s good to remember the ancient Roman deity that gives January its name. Janus had two faces, one looking back and the other forward.

We do carry the end of the year just passed into the very early days of the new year, of course, but it’s essential to immediately face forward. The universe reminds us that there is only one direction…it’s called face forward and go for it.

Covid Restrictions still in place & Tech Solutions

The provincial and federal government restrictions to halt the covid outbreaks in 2020/2021 also forced everyone to actively be in the digital world. Zoom and its competitors were found at business meetings, churches, schools, family gatherings, banking, shopping…in all encounters…in other words, the digital experience replaced the in-person meet-up.

The outcome of the virus pandemic has been to familiarize the population with the screen reality. It’s been clunky, though. Perhaps the message of 2022 will be to create a more seamless meshing of digital and in-person realities? Techies: away you go…..

Pandemic Closures Ignites Secondary Home/Rural Regions

The pandemic closures of 2020 ignited the secondary home/rural regions real estate markets across Canada…all B.C. coastal communities experienced this flight from urban to rural. Sales in late 2020 began in the affordable price points. By early 2021, Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands began to experience bidding wars and “over ask” outcomes became the norm in that diminishing “affordable” residential category.

By March of 2021, sales of luxury residential properties began. Suddenly, that market experienced outcomes that matched pre-2008 prices.

As pleasing residential options disappeared, undeveloped land began to find buyers…starting in late spring/early summer. Is this continuing interest in land now also a form of land banking? A wish to keep pace with rising inflation?

The lack of inventory in rural areas can be attributed to the lack of owners wanting to be sellers. As things slowly but consistently sell, very little new comes onstream to replace those “solds”.

It appears that there is a major turning point/societal rewrite underway. A desire to live more simply, to be more self-sufficient, coupled with the ability to authentically work from home, all coalesced into this decision to “go rural”. Yes, there is a back to the land component.

As the pandemic continues to weave its way through the populations, globally, that seeking of an “apart” location also continues.

For some time, the buyer on Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands has been from Vancouver.

Meantime, at this very beginning of 2022, the real estate market on Salt Spring sees the following:

Residential

there are approximately …

  • 43 residential listings.
  • 13 of these listings are under one million.
  • 13 of these listings are between one and two million.
  • 8 are between two and three million.
  • One is between 3 and 4 million. T
  • wo are between 4 and 5 million.
  • Three are between 6 and 7 million.
  • One is between 11 and 12 million.
  • Two are listed at 14 million.

Land

there are approximately

  • 28 land listings.
  • 19 of these are between 200,000 and one million.
  • 7 are between one and two million.
  • One is between 2 and 3 million.
  • One is between 4 and 5 million.

Sales

there were approximately

  • 271 sales at the close of 2021. There were
  • 190 sales between 190,000 and one million. (In many cases, bidding wars took placein this category.)
  • 67 sales between one and two million.
  • 8 sales between two and three million.
  • 3 sales between 3 and 4 million.
  • 3 sales between 5 and 6 million.

It seems as if numbers of sales and sale price points may have returned to 2005/2006 activity levels.

Supply and demand create markets…when driven by strong buyer desire. We remain, at this very beginning of 2022, in a strong sellers market on Salt Spring and the Southern Gulf Islands. Projections call for continuing sellers market conditions.

Meantime, it’s January…a great time to make sure one is ready for the metaverse. The “new” is profound and there is a distinct divide between pre- and post-pandemic times…important, then, to run with the flow of change. Remember Thales, another savvy Ancient Greek: one never steps in the same water twice…it’s flowing on and always new.

Meantime, to all, best wishes for a very Happy and Prosperous New Year

December 2021, Salt Spring Island Market Analysis

December 2021, Salt Spring Island Real Estate Market

Rain and snow and then crisp days of brilliant sun, with mesmerizing ocean/islands/mountain viewscapes.

A time of seasonal lights, family traditions, special menus, craft fairs, markets, choral presentations…and a time of gifting to those who need it most.

Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands are offering the softer season delights to both locals and visitors. Take part! Support local.

December is also a time to look back at what has been and to look forward to what is emerging.

Strong Sales in 2021

There have been strong sales throughout 2021. In residential options, if listed below one million, there were several sales “over ask”. Only one property and several interested buyers…a recipe for bidding wars.

By Spring, higher end listings began to sell and also undeveloped land opportunities…as we edge to the end of the year, we have extremely low inventory in all property types and price points.

While the majority of sales are below 1.2 million, there are still many more sales above that mark, and that has not been seen since pre-2008 economic meltdowns. It seems that we have returned to a pattern not seen since 2004/05.

A societal rewrite

The flight from urban to rural is underway, and the authentic ability to work from home supports this. A societal rewrite appears to be happening. The outcomes of the changes that began with the first covid closures almost two years ago are not fully in place yet.

  • At this very beginning of December, there are approximately 55 residential listings, not separating out waterfront, view, townhome, farm, lot, acreage. The prices range from 159,900 to 14,000,000.
  • At this very beginning of December, there are approximately 28 land listings…not separating out waterfront, view, lot, acreage. Prices range from 259,000 to 4,900,000.
  • Together, that means approximately 83 listings are available for a buyer to consider. Usually we would see a total of 300+ listings.
  • At this very beginning of December, there have been approximately 265 sales to date, ranging between 199,000 and 5,850,000.
Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

A desire to leave city congestion and seek a rural lifestyle continue to be the main propellers to action. The Gulf Islands offer a preserved environment, due to the Islands Trust form of governance (in place since 1974). Ask me about this important aspect.

The evolution of the internet so that it now fully supports the ability to work remotely is also a part of allowing the shift to smaller communities.

Owners in these areas do not want to be sellers, and that is also part of the reason for such low inventory. This is a true sellers market.

A Competitive Market

Buyers have to make their best efforts…they are in competition. They might need to consider renovation or building projects after purchase…buyers are not in the driver’s seat right now. Until there is more supply, this thin market will continue. It may take two years to see a further supply of housing come to market.

Concerns over inflation might also be a factor in land sales…real estate values keep pace with inflation. It is a strong hard asset. Land banking may be the reason for some land sales. Welcome your thoughts here.

There are always issues, of course. December, though, brings with it a season of light and joy.

Some loved Island events (such as Santa’s Carol Ship) were cancelled due to covid shut-downs, but many remain. Check the various holiday calendars for the Gulf Islands and enjoy the special events that are offered. Whether large or small celebrations, remember to enjoy the festive time. It is “the season”!

November 2021, Salt Spring Island Market Analysis

November 2021, Salt Spring Island Real Estate Market

Salt Spring Island, Fall

Salt Spring Island, Fall

November…and already real estate projections are into early 2022.

More than Meets the Eye

The real estate boards and media reports note that fewer sales are taking place right now. That is the first part of this stats information…the second part is often overlooked: the reason for fewer sales is that there are less listings to sell. It is not about lack of buyer demand.

A full-on buyers market and a full-on sellers market are extremes…and are difficult at both ends.

A buyers market simply means lots of listings and very few buyers. Buyers are in charge of outcomes and sellers price reductions are a part of the scene.

A sellers market means very few listings and many interested buyers. Price escalation is often an outcome in any new infrequent listings. Scarcity with strong demand creates this. There are many disappointed buyers, all vying for one listing that meets their criteria. This has led to bidding war/“over ask” outcomes.

Salt Spring Island Fall Market Statistics

At this very beginning of November, there are 61 residential listings on Salt Spring, not separating out waterfront, view, farm…simply residential.

  • 22 of them fall between 159,900 and 998,000
  • 20 of these are listed between 1,074,000 and 1,999,995.
  • 9 are listed between 2,049,000 and 2,888,000
  • 3 property listings between 3,985,000 and 3,999,800
  • Two listings between 4,888,000 and 4,595,000
  • Two listings between 6,300,000 and 6,688,800
  • One listing at 11,975,000.
  • One listings at listings at 14,000,000

At this very beginning of November, there are 26 land listings…again, not separating out waterfronts, view, lots, acreages.

The land options range from 259,000 to 2,995,000.

At this very beginning of November,

  • 248 “solds to date”…ranging from 199,000 to 5,795,000.

There have been several “holding back offers” situations, plus bidding wars, and many “over ask” outcomes. For more detailed information, please contact me.

Salt Spring Island: Sellers or Buyers Market

Projections continue to note that buyers are seeking rural places, where working from home is feasible, and where the lifestyle offers their wish list. Projections are also noting that listing inventory will remain low…most owners do not want to be sellers. Price rises are forecast. Buyers will need to continue to put their best foot forward, to secure a desired listing.

Are people land banking? Seeking investments that will protect capital? Maybe. These are uncertain times. Also, perhaps, the draw of a rural holding, where one might be self-sufficient, has an allure.

More information? Please contact me. Whether a sellers or a buyers market, there are usually work-arounds for a buyer to consider.

November is authentic late Fall. Weather will shift from fair to storm and back again. Live music venues, craft fairs, special events, gallery openings, hiking/walking trails to explore…the softer season still delivers pleasing experiences on Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands. Discover!

October 2021, Salt Spring Island Market Analysis

October, Salt Spring Island Real Estate Market

Authentic Fall. Harvest season, and the Saturday Market, Tuesday Farmer’s Market, and farm gate stands continue the theme.

Art on Salt Spring Island

Art on Salt Spring Island

Apple Fest pops up at the beginning of the month, the Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend celebrates mid-month, and the Hallowe’en finale reminds that soon the fallow field time will be with us.

Buyer Demand Remains on Salt Spring Island

In real estate, thin inventory continues and buyer demand remains a feature. The flight from urban to rural remains the driver of activity and most buyers continue to be from Vancouver/Lower Mainland.

In many cases, offers are held back for two or so weeks and then are all presented at same time (advertised this way on MLS)…this can lead to “over ask” bidding wars, or, at very least, to full-price and often unconditional offers.

Lately, buyers have been uncomfortable with these “offers to be presented all at same time/on a specific date” directions on a listing. Is this about buyer fatigue? Only one successful bidder and the one who takes it is without subject conditions.

Veggies & Harvest on Salt Spring Island

Veggies & Harvest on Salt Spring Island

Strong Sellers Market on Salt Spring Island

It still remains a strong sellers market. Buyers have to meet sellers expectations. How long will this last? Projections see this continuing into 2022/2023. It is about supply and demand. Prices are projected to rise. So many global issues and concerns…the seeking of safe havens is another aspect of the turn to rural and smaller communities. Land banking (purchases of land, with no immediate plan of building, might be a hedge against inflation? Another “hmmmm”…).

At this very beginning of October, 62 residential listings for sale on Salt Spring

  • 23 are below one million
  • 20 are between one and two million
  • 10 are between two and three million
  • 9 listings between 3,985,000 and 14,000,000 million

At the very beginning of October, there are 26 land listings (without separating out lots, acreages, waterfronts, views), between 259,000 and 2,995,000.

At the very beginning of October, there have been 335 sales to date.

  • 267 have been below one million
  • 55 have been between one million and two million
  • 8 have been between 2 and 3 million
  • 5 sales between 3 and 6 million

Low Listing Inventory

The listing inventory is shockingly low. Along with a market trend that currently favours sellers, the form of governance on Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands (the provincial government body known as the Islands Trust) effectively capped growth when it was created in 1974. Plus, the desire to live rural, the ability to seriously work from home, the allure of being self-sufficient and “apart” from urban issues…a perfect storm of transformational change? Maybe.

How to Enjoy the Beauty of The Islands

October…and on a Gulf Island. It’s fruition time. The splendour of the natural world is everywhere. Remember: we do have an editing function, we do have an off button, and we can give ourselves permission to enjoy the beauties of these islands.

On Salt Spring? Hiking/walking trails await, sailing races on Sunday afternoons, beachcombing delights, harvest menus (support the delectable restaurants), gallery meandering (don’t miss SSNAP (Salt Spring National Art Prize) showcase at Mahon Hall and the Parallel Art Show at ArtSpring. Star watching is terrific. Give yourself the gift of time.

September 2021, Salt Spring Island Market Analysis

September Brings Fall to Salt Spring Island

September. Meteorological Fall is here on the 1st and the calendar catches up on the 20th.

Along with the seasonal shift, there are continuing government mandated efforts to diminish the effects of the fourth wave of covid. Masks are again essential, vaccination passports will be law, social distancing continues in public spaces, further closures may be coming if the virus continues to remain out of control, and booster shots are being discussed.

Global concerns, wars and rumours of wars, financial hesitancies (currency concerns, interest rates, inflation)…hmmm…turbulence continues in all domains.

Low Inventory on Salt Spring Island

What about the real estate outcomes in our region? The extraordinarily low inventory of available properties continues. In residential options below a million, bidding wars can still occur. In all price points/property types, sellers are often receiving “close to” or “at list” prices. It remains a sellers market in all the coastal areas, including on the Gulf Islands.

The main propeller to action continues to be a desire for a rural lifestyle, and it is now possible to authentically work from home. A lifestyle rewrite is a factor in a buyer’s decision to move to “apart” areas. Buyers continue to be mainly from the Vancouver/Lower Mainland region. They plan to live permanently at their chosen new location.

Sellers and realtors do not set markets…buyers do that. Buyers create action and set the pace in real estate sales. As long as buyers are desiring to live on a Gulf Island, sales will remain consistent.

Autumn Leaves on Salt Spring Island

Fall is a beautiful season on Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands. Early Fall can be a lot like late summer, and the fruition time continues. Lots to do and to enjoy.

With the return to some Covid restrictions, any large gatherings may be reconfigured or return to online versions (check on outcome for Fall Fair, for example).

The Saturday Market and the Tuesday Farmers Market continue…the farm gate stands provide amazing fresh produce and fruits/berries. The wine tastings at Garry Oak and Salt Spring Vineyards continue…award winning wines to enjoy here. The cideries and the craft brewery invite your tasting pleasures. The largesse of the season is here to be enjoyed on special Salt Spring. A WOW!

Li Read, Salt Spring Island Realtor

Thinking of selling? Call me for up to the minute market reports and knowledge of marketing opportunities. In a sellers market, there are few choices for a serious buyer…it’s still essential to optimize presentation in rural areas. The mainly non-local buyer is looking “everywhere” and all rural areas are in competition for the same buyer profile.

Thinking of buying? It’s true that a sellers market means less choice for a buyer, though there are always options for successful connections, no matter the market trend in play. It’s important to be pre-approved and so ready to act. It’s also important to recognize the authentic diamond in the rough…and to be willing for some renovations. Land, location, light, water…all in good order? Then consider taking on a property that will need updates…those are the ones that become good investments over time. More questions? Call me!

September on Salt Spring and the Southern Gulf Islands remains an inspiring month of natural beauty…many warm days, lots of clear evenings for star watching, and an invitation to enjoy hiking/walking trails. Patio/deck dining continues to be enjoyed (our terrific restaurants and coffee stops beckon). A softer season this early Fall moment…catch it!

August 2021, Salt Spring Island Market Analysis

August, The Market Segue

August begins the segue to the Fall Market.

At this very beginning of August, the listing inventory remains extraordinarily low. Unless they have to, most owners do not want to be sellers.

Buyers continue to remain interested in leaving the city and purchasing a rural lifestyle (the outcome of those covid shut-downs).

If they have sold a house, they are looking to buy a house. That said, to keep to a budget requirement, they may consider buying an undeveloped land offering. They might put up a guest cottage, or a modular home, or barge on an older home with Nickel Brothers, and renovate it.

Concerns over inflation and potential interest rate rises are also seemingly driving a hard asset investment purchase. This type of land-banking may be seen as a way to preserve capital.

Can I Work From Home & Live on the Gulf Islands?

Although lip-service was paid in past years to the idea that anyone could work from anywhere, because of the internet, this may not have been true in outlying areas. Now it is true. Another outcome of those covid shut-downs: the turn to online options. Suddenly, everyone is happy with Zoom meetings. Businesses and non-profits turned to online opportunities. Working from home is desired and possible.

Maybe we are now positioned at the very beginning of the “real 21st Century”? It will be interesting to see what’s in place at this time next year. Voids like to be filled. Now that everyone is able to be online, in some form or other, new ways to market, to connect, to “be”, will start to fill in. An exciting time? Yes!

Meantime, at this very beginning of August, we find 50 residential listings, not separating out homes, townhouses, waterfront, view, farm. Seven of these are strata townhomes that will not be built until next year.

  • 22 of these are listed between 420,000 and 998,000
  • There are 15 listings between 1,149,000 and 1,890,000
  • There are 8 listings between 2,125,000 and 2,995,000
  • One listing at 3,985,000
  • One listing at 4,488,000
  • One listing at 6,688,800
  • One listing at 11,975,000
  • Two listings at 14,000,000

There are 33 land listings, not separating out lots, acreages, view, waterfront, farm.

They are priced between 232,500 and 2,495,000.

  • There have been 189 “solds to date”, at this very beginning of August
  • 135 sales were below one million
  • 43 sales were between 1 and 2 million
  • Six sales were between 2 & 3 million
  • Two sales were between 3 and 4 million
  • Three sales were between 5 and 6 million

A Strong Sellers Market

It remains a strong sellers market. With the continuing low inventory in all property types & price points, there are both bidding wars in existing listings and asking price escalation in anything new to the market.

Real estate is a market, with the same dynamics as any other market driven economy. Buyers set the pace, not sellers or realtors. At this time, strong buyer desire is coupled with owners who do not want to be sellers…a recipe for continuing seller market conditions.

The Islands Trust & Inventory on Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring is a part of the Islands Trust, set in place by the provincial government in 1974. The non-growth policies of the Trust mean that there will always be limited inventory on any Gulf Island. This is beyond market trend.

So: the market speaks to buyer interest, causing diminishing inventory, on an island that has capped growth, through the Trust’s severe zoning/bylaw protections….hmmm….

More information on trends and listings? Call me! Let’s explore potential purchasing opportunities.

Thinking of selling? Discover my award-winning presentation that does encourage serious buyer interest.

Meanwhile…August. A time of fruition. Enjoy farmers markets, farm gate stands, special menus at our delicious restaurants, cider tastings, wine tastings…hiking/walking trails beckon…kayaking, paddle boarding, whale watching, sailing races…swimming in lakes and in the sea…shorter days mean earlier star watching (August brings annual meteor showers)….so much to see and to do…it’s still summer-summer. Enjoy!