Salt Spring Island Real Estate

Salt Spring Island real estate, Li Read, provides updates about market conditions and local happenings in and around the island of Salt Spring, Ganges, Pender Island, Saturna and James Island.

July 2014, Market Analysis

The main real estate sales window on the Pacific Northwest Coast seems to have evolved into a Summer/Fall market.

This may be the case on Vancouver Island, on the Sunshine Coast, as well as on the Gulf Islands.

Secondary home/discretionary markets have a different pattern from primary residence/city markets. “By choice” regions have been slow to recover from this past six year downturn.

At this very beginning of July, the uptick does appear to be underway, although it’s not an even-handed recovery & most sales to date still remain in the entry-level residential category.

It’s essential for a seller (& their realtor) to showcase listings throughout the year, in order to attract that mainly non-local buyer profile…but the physicality timeline for this non-local potential buyer to visit an area/view properties will mainly occur in July/August/September/October….perhaps into early November, depending on Fall weather pattern.

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

Along with this later arrival time, to view property opportunities, we are also seeing more “interviewing of areas” first.

With the “boomer” retirement wave just starting, & a strong desire from many Canadians from other provinces to choose a coastal retirement location, it makes sense that they might vacation here a good year or two before actually moving to a specific location.

Thus, Salt Spring & the Gulf Islands & Vancouver Island are in competition with each other…the potential purchaser has to “buy” the specific locale, first, before seriously looking at a property to purchase. Why here? Why not there? Serious questions!

The Internet search engines do allow a global discovery/audience. All that potential choice of destination, though, can make decision-making slower…if one can go anywhere for a retirement or a recreational choice, then that very broad choice parameter might lead to hesitation in decision…one wants “to be sure”.


Regardless of market trend, it can take one to three years to sell a specific property in any particular secondary home area. Time is always a component in the choice dance. Buyers set markets, not sellers or realtors. It’s only very recently that buyers are once again looking at the secondary home/recreational marketplaces.

The good news? Slowly slowly that secondary home/recreational marketplace is on the uptick, after that 6 year downturn. While mainly busy in residential sales of properties below 700,000, in the Gulf Islands/on Vancouver Island, the “real season” is just beginning…by October, sales should be occurring in all property segments.

Li Read Group

Li Read Group

For Salt Spring Island, the Gulf Islands, Vancouver Island? Slow but sure recovery…& eventually activity will be seen in all price points/property types.

Our market sales window has truncated down to July/August/September/October.Offers may come in later, but chances are that the viewing took place in those four intense months.

If a realtor is actively presenting a property, year-long, then a seller needs to have faith that they will deliver a buyer in the physicality timeline. The sale process is a slow one, for many reasons, in all secondary home markets.

In lieu of a monthly market update, this 2014 recovery year, I plan to let July/August take place…by mid-September, the shift should be clear, with provable statistics. Will report back in with verifiable statistics then, as opposed to reasoned projections right now. Important to let the beginning weeks of our “real market” take place. The rhythm/speed of our recovery is not yet totally clear.

Meantime, any questions, please contact me. I offer weekly driveby lists of all listed properties (not just board related options), plus weekly “solds to date” reports of all sales (not just board related options). The full information is thus always possible with me.

In September, I will report back with the total “actuality”, to that point. Meantime, it’s Summer, in the supremely beautiful Pacific Northwest Coast…enjoy!

Looking for your special piece of paradise? Your best interests are my motivation.

Whether buying or selling, please contact me for excellent service & all information. Knowledge is key.

Some market thoughts, in Q4, for Salt Spring Island….

This has been a continuing slow year in real estate sales, but it has been busier when compared to past three years.

There has been a definite rise in sales volume in the entry level priced residential segment, but only marginal action in the upper tier priced residential category.

Very substantial price reductions continue to come in, from all companies, in all property types. These reductions do not necessarily bring increased showings or offers. They do encourage other sellers to follow suit, in order to remain competitive in pricings. At the point of an offer, the buyer delivers a further serious price reduction, in spite of consistent price drops en route.

So, sluggish conditions & further price instability, in entry level residential options. Lack of interest in undeveloped land choices. Little interest in commercial/business opportunities. Sporadic interest in upper tier priced residential offerings, & very significant reductions at the offer point, in most cases. Still a very uncertain market, then, with periods of inaction, across the board.

It is marginally improving in that lower end priced segment, but there is no certainty that this means stronger conditions on the horizon.

Year 8 of an 8 to 10 year cycle, coming up? Implying a resurgence in sales, though not in pricings? Perhaps….

A seller needs to be patient…in our kind of discretionary marketplace, the buyer is always in control of the where & the when of any purchase.

In this kind of uncertain economic time, price reductions don’t necessarily create a desire to act, on the part of a buyer.

No one has to buy a second home or retire in any particular timeframe or purchase a recreational or a holding property. It’s always by choice, in a secondary home market. Confidence in the overall economy will generate buyer action in a discretionary region.

If price does propel action, it will be driven by such a steep price drop, so much lower than assessed or intrinsic value, that it cannot be ignored by a potentially interested buyer.

Even then, the buyer will have to be targeted towards this island, with some knowledge of the deep cuts over the past 3 to 4 years.

Always disturbing to see a business closing….

Very disappointing news that Mark’s Wear has closed, in Ganges Village.

Although a type of franchise, it was owned & operated locally.

All franchises (Re/Max & Sotheby’s are on-island franchises, as is 1% Vancouver Island Realty, in the real estate world) are usually owned & operated locally. The banks (CIBC & BMO) are a type of franchise, as are the gas stations, the grocery stores, etc. In some people having complained, last year, when the landlord built out the space & Mark’s moved into it, on this issue of a “franchise” coming to the Island, they may have overlooked that it was local people and a local enterprise. Locally owned and operated has a meaning, under the larger umbrella of a company franchise name.

Royal Lepage‘s local office (another real estate franchise, locally owned & operated) closed its branch office in March. A result of the past four years of suppressed economic conditions globally, as well as locally. Now we have Mark’s Wear closing. This means the staff have lost their jobs, quite apart from the losses of the owners. It also means that the landlord, who built out the third phase of a three phase building plan, a good 12 or so years after the initial phases, will be out of pocket. To recoup, he may turn the large space into 3 storefronts…we will have to wait to see. Then, if he does do this, he will have to attract businesses/tenants willing to take the risk of entrepreneurship.

So…the Salt Spring Roasting Company, with its 40 employees, has left the Island…unable to find a commercial/industrial zoned parcel to expand its enterprise. Fields Store has closed. Now, another effort to create a viable business, Mark’s Wear, has closed. Very worrying.

The Chamber of Commerce has tried to renew itself in order to address business interests on Salt Spring…to support business & to encourage local support. Has the concerted & advocacy based work over the past two years had any effect?

There are new businesses on Island, this year: Dragonfly (art supplies), Thrive (local ecologically green clothing store), Pure (new pharmacy), Fever Tree (specialty clothing & design items), Salt Spring Mercantile (in Fulford). Two bookstores closed, one remains, & a new Library building is almost completed. A Grace Point art gallery (Starfish Gallery) closed its doors. However, Treasures of the Heart, a metaphysical store that has replaced the loss of Windflower Moon, has opened. What about restaurants/cafes? Galleries? Home studios? Able to wait out the economic slowdown?

So…one up/one down? Hmmm….

A strong business core is the engine of a healthy community. In a non-municipal area, without funding resources, and a faltering tourism sector, will it be possible to sustain a viable commercial core on any Gulf Island?

Important question.

And your thoughts are? Always welcome!

Up & down…around & around…change, of course!

Change, change…everywhere a change….

Wasn’t that a theme from one of those 60s anthem tunes?

Whether one was there or simply studies those years as history, it’s clear that the current societal shifts were starting their baby steps of change in the latter years of that turbulent decade.

Another moment when the overwhelming numbers of the baby boomer generation bulged through. That time around they changed perceptions about the role of youth…all societal tenets were suddenly up for discussion & wholesale reworking.

It was still a top down world, though. Technology had not yet delivered power to the consumer of the culture. Clash was not just the name of a rock group…combative stances were the name of the game.

Creating change meant battling for the new paradigm. Amerika…names like Jerry Rubin, the Weathermen, Angela Davis, the Black Panthers, & the various liberation groups, including women’s lib & Gloria Steinem’s publishing power bid with Ms Magazine…was Archie Bunker the Seinfeld of his day?
The background sound was the helicopter confusion of the Vietnam War. Don’t trust anyone over 30…& Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues said it all.

Lots of events between then & now. That hippie ethic, though, the short-lived alternative universe of that SF summer of love, a media myth perhaps, resulting in the spontaneous combustion of Woodstock, may just have gone underground between then & now. Was it that Woodstock moment, though, that reminded everyone there was power in sheer numbers?

Aging boomers, about to bulge through the next segment of life’s rhythm, aging, are changing perceptions about this final third of life…watch the latest crop of tv commercials…pharmaceuticals, to alleviate getting old, are here, there, & everywhere.

So, whether you’re in your 20s or in your 60s, time to dust off the past & look it in the eye. The 1960s began the march to bottom up & egalitarian level playing fields. The tool that delivered the possibility of the vision is our technology.

The boomers in the digital world created sleek devices, alluring & able to be held in our hand, fitted into a pocket, that allow every one of us to affect our immediate & our larger worlds. The meshing of inner & outer is possible.

Your voice is as important as my voice or his voice or her voice or as the CEO’s voice or as the president’s voice…what do the buddhists say? There is no them, there’s only us? Hmmm….

Connection is all. Otherwise, why the texting craze, 3000+ texts in a day, between friends, who only live a block apart. The same medium connects people 8000 miles apart. So, no possibility of separation, now? The commune ethic of connectedness between like spirits is with us? Geography & time have been erased?

Change is really just a scrub brush. There’s an abrasive quality to it, of course, as it scours out the past & so allows the smoothness of the future to unwrap itself. There’s no good or bad in it…it just “is”. Our opinion about it doesn’t count.

As Thales remarked, when observing a river: one never steps in the same water twice.

So, change. Affects how we live, how we work, how we communicate within the fabric of our newly global village, how we get through our days….

For real estate, the industry I’ve been a part of since 1989, the profound changes driven by the consumer “bottom up” motif are well underway. More about this later.

If you’re 18, you don’t notice technology…it’s just wallpaper. If you’re 55, you master it & wonder how you did without it, but you’re still a hybrid…you can straddle two worlds.

Two solitudes, bridged by a smart phone? Maybe….

Could be a juicy role here, in the boomer bulge. The great data maw needs constant feeding…who better than the historian, the interpreter of our pasts, to connect us to each other?

Maybe that’s a job description for our future-now world?

And on the subject of jobs…in this information age what does that word mean? Is the day of “the job” over?

And your thoughts are? Always welcome!



Well, what about right now?

You know what all the great philosophies teach: there is only the “now”…the “right this minute” moment in time.

There will never be a better time than this “right now”.

Markets are cyclic in nature. Buyers Markets and Sellers Markets have rhythms…and a cycle might follow a 7 to 10 year pattern.

What goes down goes back up, and the equilibrium point between markets can be of very short duration.

Since 2006, and globally so, it has been “flat” in secondary home/discretionary areas. The result: price reductions, motivated sellers, low interest rates to encourage action, good inventory choices, but reluctant buyers.

Now, there are whispers of change, on an uptick trend…perhaps we will look back and decide that October 2010 to October 2011 was the bottom-bottom in the market. From now on, it should show marked improvement in sales volume, followed by thinning inventory, then price stability, and finally a turn into true sellers market territory. Perhaps by 2013?

My definitions:

a buyer’s market is characterized by lots of inventory and few buyers. A seller’s market: hardly any inventory and lots of buyers.

Remember the old economics law of supply & demand? Hmmm….

So, the “when” of action? Be in that “right now” moment…act when it’s good for you to do so. Weigh the options…decide if it works for you…that proactive stance will benefit your outcomes.

The eternal question: “what’s the market doing?”…well it’s on the move. How about you?

Thinking of a purchase on Salt Spring Island or a Gulf Island? Call me! The time is always good.

How may I help you to buy your special Salt Spring Island or Gulf Islands property? Look forward to your call!