July 2012, Salt Spring Island Real Estate Market Analysis

The short intensity of our “season” is upon us…July/August/Sept/October are the physicality moments on Island, for actual viewings.

Inquiries come in year-round, but physical presence to view happens in this short window. Often, when an offer comes in during other months, it turns out that the viewing of the property occurred during these four key months.

These months are also considered to be the best, weather-wise, in our region…definitely a correlation, then, re this timing issue.

Tourism has been the start of sales action in our Gulf Islands environment. People arrive by private boat, by ferry/car, by floatplane…they stay, meander the charms of Ganges Village & discover the environmental beauties of the Island itself…then they decide on a second home/recreational retreat or, if possible, retire & move here, to discover a new lifestyle.

No one “has to” buy on Salt Spring or on another Gulf Island…..it’s all by choice.

This discretionary quality can often mean time lags in decisions. Important for a seller to be “out there”, though, so that a buyer searching on the internet can discover their property option…even though months may go by before they turn up to view & more months may pass before a sales transaction takes place. There is no motivator to action…it’s all at the discretion of the buyer.

Sellers need to be patient & realtors need to be consistent in their marketing message. The Internet has totally changed real estate as an industry, and this is especially evident in the secondary home marketplace. The consumer is now in control, and in a secondary home/resort-based area, the consumer controls the where and the when of all sales.

That said, both the tourism discovery and the weather pattern that attracts, in this coastal region, are underway.

For the first time in almost four years, buyers are back in our area. Appraisers feel that prices dropped around 35% between mid-2007 and mid-2012. Sales volume this year, however, has gone up over last by around 40%.

The sales activity between January 1 & end of June has mainly been in the entry level residential category. Starting in mid-April, the buyer was having to come closer to a seller in offer price point…before that, a seller had to drop further, never mind the reductions en route, to meet the buyer. The difference? Thinning inventory in the entry level residential segment creates price stability.

Prices in the upper tier priced residential options are not stable. The very few sales between one million and 1.5 still show large reductions at the point of the offer.

Undeveloped land sales and commercial property sales remain “flat”.

At this beginning moment, first of July, we may see a build-up of activity in the upper tier priced properties. Between 2007 and present day, most have seen price reductions in the millions…as they slowly capture a buyer’s attention, price points drop substantially further at point of the offer. In this still sticky segment, the buyer reluctance remains a factor.

So…price stability & thinning inventory in entry level residential, lack of consistent interest in upper tier residential, with accompanying severe price reductions when a sale does take place, and no interest yet in undeveloped land or in commercial opportunities. Hmmm…sounds like a market in flux, to me.

Markets are cyclical, and we may be in year 7 of a 7 to 10 year cycle…this implies a natural uptick in activity. Thinning inventory foretells price increases. Undeveloped land sales/new construction will follow, as good residential options sell off. The upper tier options will also improve in sales as a safe haven seeking continues to grow.

So important, in a shift moment, to be looking down the highway and not in the rear view mirror. A positive change is underway in real estate investing.

We are just entering our “season”…and the larger market cycle is slowly upticking. As a seller, this is good news for the first time in four years. For a buyer, it’s an alert to act now…that proverbial buyers market does not last forever, and by this time next year may have vanished entirely.

Perhaps this is the sales volume season?

More information? Call me! How may I help you to buy or to sell your special Island property? Look forward to bringing my knowledge (of both inventory and of trends) to your benefit.

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