Market Analysis

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

July 2024 – Salt Spring Island

July 2024


July welcomes the ease of summer pleasures.

Canada Day on July 1st is the anchor celebration. Check out the Visitor’s Centre for all the special offerings on Canada’s birthday (including the classic car show).

Summer Activities

Markets & Food

  • Saturday Market
  • Tuesday Farmers Market
  • Wine tasting at Garry Oak
  • Cider tastings (two cideries)
  • Olive grove
  • Craft brewery
  • Farmgate stands
  • Al fresco dining restaurants

Outdoor Activities

  • Hiking trails: Ruckle Park, Mt Erskine Park, Channel Ridge
  • Swimming: Vesuvius Beach, St Mary Lake, Cusheon Lake, Weston Lake
  • Kayaking
  • Whale watching
  • Drummond Children’s Park

Arts, Culture & Leisure

  • Studio tour
  • Village galleries: ArtSpring, Ganges Galleries, ArtCraft
  • Live music venues: Moby’s, Legion, Treehouse
  • Restorative spa experiences
  • Unique shops and specialty offerings

Experience the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of the Gulf Islands. Take your ease and enjoy the summer pleasures!

Real Estate Trends

Real estate trends as we glide into the summer season? Although there can be lengthy pauses in action en route, the real estate market has seen continuing low inventory coupled with significant buyer interest for some substantial time…the effect of this ongoing trend is currently expressed in random pricings (stable, soft escalation, reductions at point of an offer… all are in evidence). This mix in outcomes highlights the fluidity of today’s world. The watchword of our time is “uncertainty”. This results in a stop and go pattern for buyer action, but it remains consistent.

Since 2016, most buyers in the secondary home/recreational regions have been from Vancouver/Lower Mainland. There have been ups and downs in market conditions over this timeline, but overall real estate has strengthened in value. Lately, we are seeing renewed interest from both Alberta and Ontario.

Most owners do not want to be sellers. The buyers arriving to view are seeking to drop urban for rural. There is always some increase of listings in summer/early fall, but not in significant numbers. As soon as one categorizes by price and type, one can see that the inventory continues to be very low. Buyers do not have a lot of choice in their preferred categories.

The push for rural over urban is one buyer trend and another is the desire for good hard asset investment. Buyers are concerned about currency issues and see ownership in a unique area as a preservation of capital decision.

The Gulf Islands have become a late summer/fall market, with prices generally higher than nearby Vancouver Island due to limited inventory.

Islands Trust and Housing

The Islands Trust, established in 1974, has capped growth on the Islands with strict density controls. This has led to consistently low inventory, regardless of market trends. The ongoing housing crisis across Canada is particularly pronounced in the Gulf Islands due to these restrictions.

Looking Ahead

So, we have arrived at the beginning of the last half of the year. Several years ago, the Gulf Islands became a late summer/fall market. It is a gift to be able to own and enjoy a Gulf Islands/Salt Spring Island lifestyle. Prices have always been higher than on nearby Vancouver Island, due to lack of growth inventory. The Islands are not really first time buyer territory. New ownership models may become a viable way to be a part of living on a Gulf Island…to own jointly with friends, or family. Single family ownership may evolve.

July… time to enjoy this season of warmth and largesse, to welcome the sense of ease it brings, to be inspired by sunsets and star watching opportunities.

A brief season. Already the days are becoming shorter. July… catch it! Enjoy.

Salt Spring Island, June 2024, Market Analysis

June’s Beauty

Lovely June is here…the month of roses…in gardens and parks and also wild at road edges. An elegant flower, an inspired fragrance…worth seeking out at this meteorological start of Summer.

Blossoms in orchards have spun their way to pastures to allow budding fruit to grow forward. The great Pacific Northwest Coast offers May to September as key months…late Spring-into Summer-into early Fall. June brings the beginning of summer vacations, weddings, graduations, family events…and Nature speaks the tongue of beauty. So important to observe.

Real Estate Market

The real estate market can be quieter in early June, perhaps reflecting the hiatus of family events. By the third week of the month, the Summer Market kicks in. Inventory remains low, and in spite of interest rate effects buyers are willing to make offers again. The pause of uncertainty seen in 2022 and most of 2023 is over as we continue through 2024. The buyer profile remains mainly a Vancouver/Lower Mainland purchaser.

Sales Trends

  • Higher end sales are occurring, but the main sales are still below 1.3.
  • Townhomes listed below a million are active.
  • It is rare to find a single family home ready to enjoy that is listed below a million.

Market Dynamics

Change remains the watchword of our time. Changes to the Real Estate Act continue. The impact of AI remains a factor. This is an election year in B.C. (vote in October), and that brings party discussions to the fore. Global uncertainties continue. Currency concerns and a desire to drop urban for rural continue as key motivators for buyer action. Most owners do not want to be sellers.

Current Listings and Sales

At this very beginning of June, there are approximately 115 residential listings on the market. Some of these are properties listed before, now returned to market for perceived Summer activity. Most listings below one million are townhomes (strata zonings).

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

At this very beginning of June, there are approximately 44 Land listings on the market…not separating out lots, acreages, view, waterfront, pastoral options.

At this very beginning of June, there have been approximately 66 sales to date:

  • 43 of these sales were below one million.
  • 17 of these sales were between one and two million.
  • 4 of these sales were between 2 and 3 million.
  • Two sales between 3 & 4 million and one at 9.9.

More information on “what’s for sale” and “what has sold”? Contact me for further details of property types and initial price points.

June Activities

Meantime, it’s amazing June. Art galleries in Ganges are showcasing new works for the season, studio tours are underway, tastings at wineries and cideries, craft brewery, live music venues entertaining us, spa treatments to ease us into the new season, seasonal menus to celebrate at our great restaurants and coffee stops, the start of ArtCraft at Mahon Hall, beachcombing and picnics, sunset viewings on the longest day of the year, sailing races, whale watching, hiking/walking trails beckon…lots to enjoy!

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

June…a reminder to be paying attention to Nature’s largesse and to truly enjoy. Yes, lots of concerns out there in global issues. Turn off the phone. Take Five (thank you, Dave Brubeck). This is the season to sit and ponder and observe the delights of June. It’s spectacular. Summer is here…smile!

Salt Spring Island, May 2024, Market Analysis

Salt Spring Island and the Southern Gulf Islands

Here we are, at the very beginning of May, long considered the start of the most alluring months on the entire Pacific Northwest Coast…and those on Salt Spring Island and the Southern Gulf Islands would agree. May to October are the key delectable months in our local world, taking in Spring, Summer, early Fall. Lucky Salt Springers to be enfolded by beauty. So important, no matter the geopolitical concerns that underline our time and bring worries our way, to enjoy this annual splendour of Nature.

Real Estate Market

The real estate market on Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands is showing good action again. Most buyers still continue to be from Vancouver/Lower Mainland. A desire to leave urban for rural remains a key factor. A newer reason for a property purchase might be a preservation of capital consideration. An interest in hard asset investment could be a major reason for owners not wanting to be sellers, unless they “have to”. Low inventory, coupled with renewed buyer action (the pause in activity in 2022 and most of 2023 is over), does lead to price escalation. As a secondary home marketplace, Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands do follow their own pattern.

Seasonal Market Trends

  • Early Spring (includes March Break) can show sales action, mainly in entry level price points. This mainly weekend activity runs to late April.
  • Early May brings activity in all price points/ property types. This goes to early July.
  • The summer market includes early July to late September. It might be the busiest time for showings.
  • The late Fall Market can be active, even with changes in weather patterns.

People do buy throughout the year, but it is true that most sales action occurs between mid-March to late October. There is no local market, and since 2016 most buyers have come from Vancouver/Lower Mainland. Low inventory continues to be a factor in Vancouver Island communities, on Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands, and on the Sunshine Coast. This lack of housing, in spite of governments welcoming immigration, is not easily solved. Some government measures to add to housing stock will have very limited outcomes and could be described as ineffective. It is expected that lack of housing pressures will continue past 2030. Hmmm……

Property Types and Buyer Preferences

It’s interesting that most options below one million, on Salt Spring, are townhomes. These strata listings are not always what a seeker for a Salt Spring lifestyle is looking for. Single family homes are few & far between, below one million. Many potential buyers are looking for:

And so on. It can take three visits before a sale is accomplished. The buyer also has to choose “for” Salt Spring as well as for a specific property.

Market Outlook

So, low inventory continues. More buyers are willing to act with an offer in 2024, and price escalation is projected by the summer season. It may not be bidding war territory, but it remains a sellers market.

More information? Contact me. Your best interests are always my motivation.


Enjoying Salt Spring Island

May…an important anniversary for ArtSpring. ArtCraft at Mahon Hall is getting ready for the season. Ganges Galleries are presenting new works, and coffee stops that showcase artists are welcoming one. New restaurants are there to try and Hastings House, Auntie Pesto’s, and Rock Salt remain faves.

Beachcombing, sailing races, paddle board and kayak adventures, whale watching…walking/hiking trails beckon…Ruckle Park picnics…restorative spa experiences, amazing Saturday Market…yes, it’s Spring-into-Summer and time to jump in. Enjoy!

Salt Spring Island, April 2024, Market Analysis

Springtime on Salt Spring Island and the Gulf Islands

The very beginning of April brings with it the beauty of authentic early Spring. The end of the month is more like May. This chameleon month is also the first month when one can start to understand the tone of the real estate market for this year.

Fulford Valley 42+ Acres

Although buyers pop in anytime, on Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands, it is generally accepted that most tourism (and resulting real estate activity) falls between March Break and the Canadian Thanksgiving (October). Low inventory continues, most of the listings below one million are strata properties (townhomes). Single family homes are mostly between one and two million. Land listings are also showing extremely low inventory. Most owners are not wanting to be sellers, unless they have to. In 2022/most of 2023, buyers were in pause mode…inquired, sometimes viewed, then paused. So many global uncertainties may have created this pause period. This year, buyers are acting again. The desire to leave urban for rural remains a factor. A desire for safety is another reason to consider a country home/more self-sufficient outcome. Preservation of capital is a further reason to consider a real estate purchase in a secondary home/recreational marketplace. These are also reasons why owners are not interested in being sellers.

Fulford Valley 42+ Acres

At this very beginning of April, there are:

approximately 86 residential listings, not separating out waterfront, view, farms, lots, acreages, townhomes.

    • 28 are between 234,500 and 999,999.
    • There are 30 residential listings between 1,020,000 and 1,985,000.
    • There are 17 between 2,100,000 and 2,995,000.
    • Seven are between 3,285,000 and 3,875,000.
    • Two are in 4 million range (one at 4,295,000 and another at 4,875,000).
    • One listing at 5,250,000 and one at 11,975,000.

there are 29 land listings, not separating out lots, acreages, view, waterfront.

    • 20 are listed between 135,000 and 845,000.
    • Five are listed between 1,100,000 and 1,995,000.
    • Three are listed between 2,150,000 and 2,350,000.

At this very beginning of April, there have been approximately 32 sales to date.

  • 24 sales were between 128,000 and 850,000.
  • Six sales were between 1,185,000 and 1,750,000.
  • One sale was at 2,560,000 and another sold at 9,990,000.

Fulford Valley 42+ Acres

By late May/early June, enough sales will have taken place to allow definitive thoughts on a 2024 trend. Projections are calling for continuing low inventory and price escalation. The busier sales months are always July, August, September. To own on a Gulf Island, with the Islands Trust governance cap on growth, at same time that the market has low inventory and buyer desire, it may be that new potential buyers might want to explore shared ownership models. Ownership may require serious thinking out of the box.

Fulford Valley 42+ Acres

So, inspiring April is here. ArtSpring is celebrating an important anniversary. The Saturday Market is open. Hastings House has reopened for the season. Boaters are back and marinas are busy. Galleries are showcasing new works and the studio tour welcomes you. Wine tastings, cider tastings, craft brewery. Farmgate stands, orchards in blossom, hiking/walking trails to encourage getting out and about, beachcombing, new restaurants and coffee stops to try. It’s April…wash those windows and let the light in. Lighten up…it’s real Spring!

Salt Spring Island, March 2024, Market Analysis

Welcome to March: A Transition to Spring

March…it unleashes Spring. Meteorological Spring arrives on March 1st and the calendar signals the 20th.

Does it come in like a lion or a lamb? A mixed month weather-wise, but that 8 seconds more of daylight every day is delivering extended light and the upcoming daylight saving time change is a factor.

Real Estate and Seasonality in the Gulf Islands

March…it also signals the beginning of the real estate market’s Gulf Island seasonality…March Break (mid-month) to Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend (mid-October) are often described as “the season” for Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands.


Current Market Overview

Sales certainly take place throughout the year, but it does seem that the March to October timeline encourages tourism, real estate exploration, decisions to buy…for the whole Pacific Northwest Coast, including in the secondary home/recreational environment of the Gulf Islands.

The very beginning of this March arrives humming the same tune that has characterized the real estate market on Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands since Fall, 2023…a lack of inventory. Most owners do not want to sell.

The two year pause in buyer action (2022 & up to November 2023) did not see a spill-out of listings. The rise in interest rates may have caused some of that pause period, and kept some owners from selling at a low action period, but perhaps a bigger reason for fewer listings might be the fact that a potential seller can’t find a property to move to. Low inventory is a coastal issue. No one wants to be “houseless”.

All levels of government (municipal, provincial, federal) are struggling with the lack of available housing, right across Canada. Strong immigration puts further pressure on housing. Owners not wanting to sell are perhaps also wanting to retain the safe haven they already own…perhaps as a hard asset hold to preserve capital. For a Gulf Island, under the governance of the Islands Trust, the Trust capped growth…there will always be a lower growth and a regulated model in place (the Trust has been in charge since 1974)

.Acreage on Salt Spring Island, BC

Low inventory coupled with buyer desire does lead to price escalation. By late April, we may see this market trend fully back in play. There will be a provincial election in October and efforts are being made to create housing…such concepts would not be available for two plus years and might only add seven to ten thousand units. It seems that low inventory will remain a housing crisis issue, whether buying or renting.

Real Estate Listings Overview

  • At the very beginning of March, there are 74 residential listings on Salt Spring, not separating out single family, townhomes, waterfront, lots, view, acreages, farms, and ranging from $254,900 to $11,975,000.
  • At the very beginning of March, there are 30 land listings for sale on Salt Spring, not separating out waterfront, acreages, lots, view options, and ranging from $229,000 to $3,999,000.
  • At the very beginning of March, there have been 18 sales to date…a mix of residential and land…and ranging from $128,000 to $9,900,000.
  • As buyers will tell you: there is little to choose in a purchase. Creativity is required, if a buyer.

March Activities and Events

March: longer days, with a mix of left-over winter and almost spring weather, bulbs and early shrubs flowering forward, gallery openings that showcase new works, live music venues to enjoy, season re-opening of Hastings House, Home & Garden show weekend (thank you Windsor), and an early Easter Weekend (the last weekend of the month). Saturday Market-in-the Park season smiles hello. (Enjoy the newly reconfigured Centennial Park). Seek out the March presentations at ArtSpring…the Arts are alive and well on Salt Spring. Check out special menus at our great restaurants and coffee stops. Spa retreats, beachcombing discoveries, hiking/walking trails to meander…time to wake up with the season.

March sings the song of Spring. Welcome!

Salt Spring Island, February 2024, Market Analysis

February in the Pacific Northwest Coast Real Estate Market

February often starts the early Spring market on the Pacific Northwest Coast. The trend for 2024 might not be evident till March Break, but February introduces the early activity.

Salt Spring Real Estate Market – Early February

What do we see in the Salt Spring real estate market at this very beginning of February? The song of thin inventory continues. This is a theme seen in competing Vancouver Island communities…lack of listings is not just a Gulf Island issue.

Why Owners Hesitate to Sell

There are many reasons for owners not wanting to be sellers. That flight from urban to rural, post-pandemic, continues. It may be about a desire for safety. Geopolitical concerns are part of location decisions. A desire to be apart from city problems is a strong driver to action…a seeking of a “kinder gentler” lifestyle makes sense. There is also that “back to the land” component, where one can be self-sufficient if supply chains falter. These elements may propel buyers, but they also stop owners from becoming sellers…they are already enjoying these elements. IF they thought of selling, they would discover they can’t find a replacement property elsewhere…no inventory…and so it goes.

Gulf Islands Governance and Real Estate

Under the Gulf Islands form of governance (Islands Trust, with a mandate to “preserve and protect” the environmental beauties of the Gulf Islands for the benefit of all B.C. residents), in place since 1974, a buyer purchase/investment is ensured to remain as purchased. In this era of extreme change, this continuation of what one fell in love with, and purchased, is a strong feature of decisions to invest on a Gulf Island.


Market Dynamics and Future Trends

It’s also a recipe for price escalation. Will we see multiple owners as a buyer profile, going forward, so that one can enjoy ownership of a Gulf Island property? Hmmm….there are always work-arounds and creative ownership models may be one outcome to encourage the opportunity to own, as prices rise and inventory remains static.

A February 2024 Market Analysis On Salt Spring

So: the very beginning of February shows continuing low inventory, with buyer interest showing up in all price ranges and property types, and now with a sense that one needs to act. The pauses in action, seen in 2022 and 2023, appear to be over. Oddly, this increase in activity began in November 2023. The interest rate fluctuations remain a factor in buyer outcomes. Those having to renew mortgages in 2024 and 2025 will also be making decisions as to whether to hold or to sell. Lack of inventory to buy or to rent may decide people to struggle on with current ownership.

Real Estate as Capital Preservation

Many on both sides of the seller/buyer divide are seeing real estate as a way to preserve capital. Concern about erosion of purchasing power of currencies has people thinking about how to retain value in their holdings.

Anticipating Future Outcomes

Lots of outcomes still waiting to be formed…it’s very early in what promises to be a busy year. It’s a good idea to attend seminars and financial webinars…all information is helpful in times of change. And also keep an eye on AI…implants that allow one’s thoughts to effect change? Hmmm…. Mid-Feb welcomes the Year of the Wood Dragon in the Asian Lunar New Year. The western zodiac sees Pluto in Aquarius, a line-up not seen since the French Revolution. Recipes for change? Keep your editing function fired up.

Exploring the Local Area in February

So: February. Check the garden…early bulbs and shrubs are flowering forward. Give yourself the gift of new…zip off to Victoria or Sidney and look at a different set of walls. Remember the Cowichan Valley…on our doorstep and lots to see and do there. Beaches to explore at Parksville/Qualicum or all the way to Tofino. Check out our close neighbours, the other Southern Gulf Islands…each with their own signature. A day trip makes us glad to get back to Salt Spring’s many charms. Family Day holiday weekend in mid-February invites us to sample other nearby spaces. Lucky us…adventure on!