February 2012, Salt Spring Island Market Analyses

February, 2012.

January & February are the “winter holiday” months…skiers love the mountain escapes (Whistler
, Telluride, Vail, Aspen) & sunseekers are finding delights on beaches (in Hawaii, Southern California, Florida, Caribbean islands, and Mexico).

It’s a time when the Pacific Northwest Coast enjoys its “lull” time….we are a seasonal marketplace.

Property inquiries right now are mainly by phone, text, email, & Facebook, from potential buyers who are “elsewhere”…important then, as a seller, to be “out there”…have to be “seen” in order to be picked up on the Ethernet circles…that initial discovery is what brings interest, which is what brings a subsequent physical visit to satisfy that initial curiosity…then, if the visit “clicks”, there is an offer & a potential sale outcome.

This process all takes time.

Sellers need to understand the time lag aspect in all discretionary area sales.

On Salt Spring & the Southern Gulf Islands, the buyer profile is now mainly from out of province/out of country, and this has been the case since the Internet erased time & geography. Since 2001, perhaps?

In not being a “local buyer”, it immediately builds in time lags, regardless of market trend in play.

A downmarket trend may extend the time lag envelope, as the buyer becomes “reluctant”, but the distance between discovery to arrival to decision-making is a long one, regardless. It involves travel and discovery of an unknown destination…thus might mean two visits before a final decision is taken. It can take anywhere from 3 months to 3 years to sell a property in a discretionary area.

A successful transaction always involves a willing seller and an equally willing buyer. This equation has been a lop-sided one for several years, in our secondary home/discretionary marketplace…and it’s been the same, globally, in most secondary home/resort-based areas.

The “flat” period began in 2006; the economic debacle was evident to all by late 2008. All secondary home regions were afflicted by the fact that a discretionary purchase is always one of choice. One can put on hold the purchase of a second or third recreational home or a retirement decision can be deferred.

The uncertainty of the inflation vs deflation debate has also kept people, who are able to act, still choosing to hold cash positions.

Struggling homeowners have tried massive price reductions…with the strong Canadian Dollar against the U.S., and many sunbelt properties having reduced by 50%, we saw one of our traditional buyer profiles (Albertans) heading south of the border.

Price reductions did not work, for the most part, in our secondary home area…the discretionary buyer remains on the sidelines, and historically low interest rates are not yet generating sales action, either.

It’s about consumer confidence, of course. Until that returns, we can expect further doldrums in any secondary home environment, regardless of price point or property type, and that affects Salt Spring and other Gulf Islands, too.

Nothing remains up or down “forever”…all markets have cycles. In some areas of the U.S. there are reports of increased sales volume, resulting thinning of inventory, prices remaining suppressed but stable. This is good news, if authentic information and not wishful thinking. Statistics can be manipulated to support any particular situation!

I always think our local area is the tail of the dog…when the head shakes, the tail responds later, whether in an up or a down scenario.

It could be that we will look back two years from now & decide that the bottom-bottom in the housing market occurred between October 2010 & October 2011. We may actually be in year 7 of a 7 to 10 year cycle, which implies an upward process has begun. Sales volume will improve, if this is so, and sales of undeveloped land would also show improvement…a resulting thinning inventory would presage price increases.

Certainly it is currently a historic buyers market moment…price reductions of a substantial amount, good selection of properties, motivated sellers, historic low interest rates…what is needed is a significant recognition of this by the still reluctant buyers who could act.

This lack of confidence/lack of action is a global reaction to continuing economic uncertainties. Salt Spring & the Gulf Islands are affected, as are all secondary home/discretionary/resort-based areas. That global village means we’re all linked into the same information loop.

I always think that January/February continue what was going on in November/December. It seems to take until March to have the true tone of a year become evident.

In the meantime? Keep up to date on the day to day shifts in economic issues (the media will be sure to keep you easily in their narrow focus tunnel vision reports!), and also tune out, from time to time, to practice your periphery vision, which is always open to the creative spark that evolves the new….

If we’re in one of those major societal shifts, with the same lifestyle schism as the Agrarian/Industrial Revolution split offered, then our outcomes might depend on which side of the abyss we’re on. What abyss? Well, the one separating the 20th from the 21st Century, of course! If you’re on the right side of this major divide, then opportunity abounds….

There are always buyers & sellers. Inventory & prices may shift & change…the dance of markets is wave-like…an up & down rhythm.

Looking for details on “what’s for sale” & “solds to date”? Call me…Salt Spring Island, Southern Gulf Islands, Southern Vancouver Island…I look forward to helping you to discover your dream. Waterfronts, oceanviews, farms, building lots, commercial/investment, recreational…call me!

How may I help you to buy your Salt Spring Island or Gulf Islands property?