July 2020, Salt Spring Island Market Analysis

July begins the final half of the year.

Best Rural Areas in B.C.?

It’s a Summer Season that is missing many of the loved events that are usually part of the Salt Spring visitor experience. July 1st will not see the Classic Car Show, the kids events, the live music, the fireworks. The Saturday Market is not “on”. ArtCraft and ArtSpring are missing. And so on…. Covid-19 has affected all regions, globally.

Mount Baker

The ten week “stay home/social distance” pause in B.C. (mid-March to late June) seemed to unleash a desire for city dwellers to move to rural areas. The online world and its work at home ethic allows this move.

A Buyer’s Market in Coastal Region

Real estate sales have picked up dramatically in all the B.C. coastal secondary home markets. Most buyers locally on the Gulf Islands continue to come out of Vancouver. Lifestyle change is underway. These buyers are able to work from home, may be in the tech world, and do still have jobs. The low interest rates are in a buyers favour, IF they qualify.

These buyers are seeking a house…they are not looking for a building project…it still takes time to sell undeveloped land or a parcel with a small cabin or a house needing significant renovation. These buyers do not have time to build a house…they have sold and need to match their sale dates with their purchase dates.

Ganges Harbour

Rural Pacific Northwest Lifestyle

They are also looking to buy down, price-wise, in most cases…they want to sell as high as possible in the city and then to pay less for a rural property/put some funds in the bank. A debt-free lifestyle appears to be a part of such a rural property search.

There is also, however, a concern about the amount spent on government bail-outs during the pandemic closures…a concern about the resulting validity of currencies. This financial concern may be why there are now some higher-end residential sales and even why some special (waterfront or very large view acreages) undeveloped land parcels are finding buyers…a type of land-banking? Wanting strong hard assets in one’s portfolio? Hmmm…. a different kind of buyer.

Residential listing inventory (in any type or price range) remains exceptionally low. Unless they have to, most owners do not want to be sellers. They recognize, too, that a property on a Gulf Island may prove to be an outstanding investment in these uncertain times. When something sells, often there is no replacement listing coming onstream. It may be that we will see price increases as the summer progresses. Low inventory and increased buyer demand usually result in price escalation.

Uncertainty is the only Reliable Constant

Will this current flurry of real estate action maintain, or is it just pent-up demand after ten weeks of inaction, and may not sustain? Are global events driving the Vancouver market resurgence? If so, is the real estate activity in the coastal secondary home markets just beginning? No crystal ball available. The one constant right now: uncertainty.

As reopenings continue, there remains a concern about a possible second wave of the covid-19 virus in the Fall. Social distancing remains firmly in place. Sanitizing measures and control over numbers in a retail store are strictly adhered to. Showing protocols are in place for real estate viewings.

Stage 3 of the recovery is now underway. Soft reopenings of stage 1 and stage 2 took place between early May and late June. Many of the small Ganges businesses are hoping for a summer season of recovery…and worrying that they may have to close, if not. The lengthy closures created difficulties for all local businesses, in all secondary home/rural regions…and Salt Spring is no exception.

It is important to think local, to support local, to buy local…whenever possible. In being pushed into the online world, it means the way forward (the “After”) will not look at all like the “Before” (pre-March 12th). The online world puts all businesses everywhere in competition with each other. It’s not a level playing field, but it is a very wide one.

What’s It Like on Salt Spring Island during Covid-19?

Meantime: the Islands Trust effectively capped growth on the Gulf Islands in 1974, via strict zoning/density bylaws. This creates a general limiting effect on inventory, regardless of market trend in play at any given moment. Combine the Gulf Islands governance model that limits growth with a desire from buyers to own what’s available, and one can see that price rises will occur, over time.

At this very beginning of July, then, there are 84 residential listings.

  • 45 of these are below one million.
  • 29 of them are between 1 and 2 million.
  • 8 of them are between 2 & 3 million.
  • One is over 3 million and one is over 6 million.

At the very beginning of July, there are 72 land listings.

  • 64 of these are below one million
  • 6 are between 1 and 2 million.
  • Two are listed above two million.

At the very beginning of July, there have been 79 “solds to date”.

  • 59 of these sales have been below 1 million.
  • 17 sales have been between 1 and 2 million.
  • Three sales have been over two million.

The various listings and sales show huge variety, as usual on Salt Spring. People create their dream, and there are never exact comparables in property types.

This is a very low listing inventory. Ask me about this.

Salt Spring Island Microclimate

Salt Spring Island and the Southern Gulf Islands are beautiful places, with a micro-climate known as “cool Mediterranean”, where vineyards/wineries, cideries, olive groves, orchards, berries, all arable pursuits prosper, and where the sea enfolds them…these islands are in the heart of some of the best protected boating waters in the world. The rural seeker is attracted to the Gulf Islands.

Salt Spring’s year-round lifestyle, its amenities (including a hospital), its three routes regular scheduled ferries, its regular sked floatplane services…these make it an interesting place to live, in January as well as in July. Ease of access counts.

How to Find a Realtor on Salt Spring Island

Thinking of selling? For the past three plus years, I have offered serious online marketing options (including mattaport 3-D plans, drone videos, etc.)…since the recent closures and push to the online world, many realtors are suddenly now using these tools. I am always seeking best steps going forward, in marketing to this online world. Call me! I look forward to sharing my successful and proven marketing opportunities with you.

In this exact moment in time, with everything underway at once, it’s essential to remember we do have an “off button”. Periphery vision is more important than ever. Anyone anywhere can create the future. What do you see as beginning the “After”? Your ideas are important.

Meantime, Summer is a beautiful season on the Gulf Islands, but it is a short one. Enjoy the natural beauty, the ease of the season…breathe…decompress…enjoy. The sea calls….