February 2021, Salt Spring Island Market Analysis

Light at the end of the tunnel

Wow…February…and the days are appreciably longer…with snowdrops, crocus, early rhodos, camellias, forsythia inviting us to pay attention to gardens.

A short month, with both late Winter and early Spring in its days, February promises positive change.

Hesitations still continue on the covid front, but the vaccine roll-out (which is not without its distribution hiccups) has encouraged people to see that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

On February 12, the Asian horoscope changes from the Year of the Rat (known for turbulence and societal shifts) to the Year of the Ox (perhaps a year to digest and solidify all the rapid changes that struck 2020?).

Alice-astro, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In change lies opportunity. We all relate differently to change…the key perhaps is in how we approach it. The universe reminds us that we only face one way in time: forward.

So what about real estate activity at this exact moment? I do this report at the beginning of every month…updates as the month progresses are found on my twice weekly blog. Thank you for checking in!

The early closures in 2020, due to the government’s efforts to control the pandemic outcomes, resulted in a buyer desire to sell in the city and to seek a rural haven. It was a short season in 2020 (on Salt Spring, from around June 23rd to year end), but an intense one.

As listings steadily sold, nothing new came onstream to take their place. At the same time, most owners did not want to be sellers. Plus, the societal shift to the online world allowed people on the right side of the digital divide to continue to work from home…thus allowing the rural opportunities to encourage that lifestyle rewrite. A further plus: historically low interest rates. A perfect storm? Possibly.

Prices Stabilizing due to higher Demand

We are right now at a moment of extremely low inventory coupled with continuing high buyer demand…usually a recipe for serious price escalation. To date, prices have stabilized. In some entry level price ranges, there are small bidding wars. In the higher tier priced options the spread between list and sale prices remains in place, although that spread is slowly narrowing. Buyers now need to make their highest and best offer when presenting.

That said, even with desire to buy, it still takes time to achieve a sale in any secondary home market. First step is to choose “for” the area…it can take three visits before an offer. For higher priced options, it can take longer. It’s that need “to be sure”, in that all important “decision for” a specific area.

At this very beginning of February, then, there are 50 residential listings on Salt Spring Island.

  • 25 of these residential offerings are listed between 299,000 and 998,500.
  • Fifteen of these residential listings are between 1,025,000 and 1,985,000.
  • Five of the residential options are asking between 2,000,000 and 2,625,000.
  • One property is listed at 3,100,000. One property is asking 6,688,800.
  • There is one listing at 12,000,000.
  • There are two listings asking 14,000,000.

By the time you get here …

Meantime, the beauty found on Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands is both inspiring and restorative. To be able to own and to enjoy a property of any description here is a gift we give ourselves. Nothing/nowhere is perfect…maybe ownership and enjoyment of the rural lifestyle in this particular place, though, is “practically perfect”?

On Salt Spring? Whether sit down or take-out, remember to support our amazing local restaurants. All covid protocols are in place and they are consistently following safety measures for your protection.

And yes, it’s so easy to shop online…but before clicking to order from that non-local big box option, check out our local retailers. They may be able to match item and price, if not already in stock, and your support of “local” keeps the community alive and well. Our “season” really only fully clicks into place in April…our local businesses need our care and support now. “Buy local…or bye bye local”…a sign in another community, but it says it all.

Time on your hands? Check in with the many volunteer non-profit organizations that exist here…find out what you can do to be helpful. In our form of non-municipal governance (Islands Trust and CRD), it is these very non-profits that help to create our community’s well-being.

In business (my definition: if you are providing an item or a service for sale, then you are in business), you need to join the local Chamber of Commerce. This gives you a larger voice in creating good outcomes for the entire community. The Chamber has a non-government “voice” and can therefore think out of the box. Those words “resilience and recovery” can be an integral part of that Chamber voice.

So…February. Let’s step into it with enthusiasm and creativity. Yes…different days…but days of possibility. In real estate, there may be less inventory choice and we may be at the beginning of serious sellers market outcomes, but there is always opportunity.

Seeking to sell? Benefit from my targeted and productive marketing solutions. (2020 Medallion sales award). I look forward to presenting your property to optimum in today’s digital universe.

Seeking to buy? Look forward to hearing from you. There will always be ways to connect your hopes with best outcomes.

January 2021, Salt Spring Island Market Analysis

Salt Spring Island
Salt Spring Island

January is named for the Roman god Janus…he had two faces, one looking back to the past and one looking straight ahead, into the future. At this very beginning moment of 2021, it’s clear that we are looking forward into pivotal change.

Roman god Janus
Roman god Janus

The various closures in 2020, propelled by governments trying to control the covid-19 virus, unleashed a shift to the online world. Now that this acceptance of a digital environment has become the new normal, it means that new and dynamic communication formats will just be the surround sound of our time. If you are not in, you will be out.

Nothing is untouched. For techies, who have for years been able to work from anywhere, this is just how things are. For the rest of us, the learning curves may be deep or shallow…but evolve we must.

Is Rural Living the new ‘Chic’?

In times of extreme change, it’s important to be practicing our periphery vision. No leaning forward to go down prepared tunnels of information…instead, lean back and take in that 180 vista that periphery vision allows…that’s where creative change lies.

With the immediacy of data today, anyone anywhere can think about outcomes and so can create ways and means to go forward. Hmmm….in this digital universe, how might we create lifestyle scripts that allow us to successfully embrace change? There’s the challenge.

Meantime, short-term, at this beginning day of January, we note in real estate that the 2020 pandemic pushed city dwellers into seeking rural lifestyles. The ability to work from home, coupled with a desire for space, for an apart area with pleasing lifestyle options but away from city issues, created an upsurge in real estate sales in all rural communities, across Canada, and that includes Salt Spring Island and the Gulf Islands.

Revising Our Life’s Script

 Salt Spring Island
Salt Spring Island

We enter 2021, on Salt Spring, with a shockingly low inventory and with a strong buyer desire. In 2020, most owners did not want to be sellers…this helped to keep inventory low. As properties sold, nothing new came on to take their place. Prices stabilized.

There appears, in response to the covid pandemic, a desire for people to rewrite their life script. The allure of the rural is definitely a part of this.

The last time this lifestyle rewrite was evident was just after 9-11. In response to that former time’s sales volume increase and resulting low inventory, we saw substantial price increases in the Gulf Islands. Will we also see this as we progress through 2021? Perhaps…projections are calling for continuing interest in rural regions, continuing low inventory, continuing buyer demand.

Current Inventory Gulf Islands, 2021

At this exact moment in time, then, at the very beginning of January on Salt Spring, we have 39 residential listings, of which:

  • 23 are listed between 299,000 and 998,500
  • 15 are listed between 1,025,000 and 1,985,000
  • Five listed between 2,000,000 and 2,625,000
  • One listing at 3,100,000
  • One listing at 5,900,000
  • One listing at 6,688,800
  • One listing at 12,000,000
  • Two listings at 14,000,000
  • 54 land listings
  • 9 commercial listings
Salt Spring Island
Salt Spring Island, Skywater

This inventory count might sound like a lot of choices, but as soon as one puts in the desired parameters (for example: 3 bed/2 bath, a view, good sun, good water, no huge renovations required, quiet area, close to town, budget up to 800,000), then there might be only two listings on the entire island that would meet that wish list.

Recent Real Estate Sales on Salt Spring

There were 237 sales in 2020. Prices were between 120,000 and 2,600,100. Most sales were below 998,000, but there were several sales between 1,005,000 and 1,950,000. There were 7 sales between 2,050,000 and 2,600,100.

Sales volume was up in 2020 over 2019, with most sales occurring after the first pandemic shut-down…on Salt Spring, residential sales began around June 23rd and undeveloped land sales started slowly around early November. Vancouver sellers remain the main buyer profile in all the secondary home markets.

The Islands Trust, a government body created in 1974, “to preserve and protect” the environmental beauties of the Gulf Islands, for the benefit of all B.C. residents, used severe zoning/bylaws restrictions to control growth. By doing so, the Trust ensured that property prices would (over time) escalate…a desire to own and a control of inventory are always factors on all Gulf Islands. Connect that perpetual governance model of controlled growth with a market upsurge in sales volume, and price rises may be the outcome.

With less inventory, there may be fewer sales going forward and prices may escalate. It usually takes until early March to see the tone of a year, in real estate activity. Stay tuned.

Digital Transformation

Traditionally, the coastal secondary home/recreational marketplace goes from mid-March to mid-October, but the always-on digital universe may erase this “March Break to Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend” grid of activity. New visual ways to market property may result in people buying properties without physically viewing. Stay tuned.

The work from home dynamic and the turn to online shopping, forced on everyone during the pandemic closures, make change inevitable for commercial real estate. The owners of office towers and shopping centers in major urban regions will need to consider how to respond. A repurposing of such commercial spaces will need to take place.

Locally, the Islands Trust has an opportunity to repurpose Ganges Village…to perhaps allow empty second floor offices to become rental living spaces. The Trust could also allow empty street level stores to allow live/work options. Creative thinking is required. Time, indeed, for 1974 (the year the provincial government created the Islands Trust) to meet up with 2021 requirements.

Salt Spring Island, Real Estate Office
Salt Spring Island, Real Estate Office

Pandemic & Tourism on Salt Spring

Tourism has been very hard-hit all over Canada as a result of covid pandemic edicts to stay home/only essential travel encouraged. With a visitor-centric economy on the Gulf Islands/Salt Spring Island, how will this tourism aspect be successfully revitalized?

Words like resilience and recovery are meaningless without creative changes…which brings us back to the Islands Trust. As the form of governance on the Gulf Islands, are the trustees and planners on Salt Spring wearing Janus’ backward gazing face or are they seeing with his forward direction stare? We should be asking.

Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands are beautiful regions and the Trust did “preserve and protect” them for the benefit of all B.C. residents. To ensure this protective quality, going forward, the inadequacies of the Trust’s oversight do need to be addressed. Asking questions of both the Trust and the CRD is the way to ensure that the alluring lifestyle enjoyed on Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands continues.

Looking Ahead & Embracing Change

So, at the beginning of this first month of a New Year, let’s look forward…no point in turning to gaze behind us. The pre-covid time is gone. Time now to remember Alice Through The Looking Glass…she had to run very fast, just to stay still. We are at the very beginning of new ways to be. Let’s embrace change. Scary? Only until we get used to it. And your thoughts are? Always welcomed.

How may I help you to achieve your real estate goals in 2021? Whether selling or buying, benefit from my expertise, knowledge, innovative marketing ideas, and experience. Your best interests truly are my motivation. Look forward to your call.

December 2020, Salt Spring Island Market Analysis

'Tis the Season, 2020

We have arrived at the very beginning of December, in this most awkward and disturbing year.

Covid, and its attendant government closures to flatten the curve of this potentially deadly virus, have caused several interruptive pauses throughout 2020.

Although the calendar says Winter starts officially around December 20th, we in the great Pacific Northwest Coast know that November signals the seasonal shift in our region.

‘Tis the Season (of 2020)

Real Estate on Salt Spring Up or Down?
Salt Spring Island in the Snow

A darker time of year, coupled with continuing covid closures, is disturbing to many…and afflicts many businesses struggling to survive.

It’s rare that the Southern Gulf Islands get snow…when it happens, islanders love to take photos…and when it occurs, it doesn’t last long. I always think that Winter in this area is like a long late Fall or a lengthy early Spring…depending on one’s point of view. Shorter days are a factor.

Covid has cancelled the seasonal traditional pleasures at this December time of year. It is so important to listen to the shop local, think local, be local messaging in each small community. The hope is that visitor-centric communities will see business survival over the winter season.

People in many locales are decorating, putting seasonal lights up, and doing it earlier. A great idea! To be a billboard of light, for those passing our homes, gives such pleasure…maybe that’s our holiday gift to family, friends, neighbours.

How is Covid-19 affecting Salt Spring Island?

And what about real estate in the time of covid? That first closure, on March 12th, which lasted for 10 weeks, and a bit longer on the Gulf Islands (travel is tied to ferry schedules and they had to reinstate routes and sailings), signaled a lifestyle change. City dwellers, able to work via the internet and thus able to choose a rural area for their year-round living choice, began to check out all the secondary home/rural regions.

Snow on Lake in BC
Snow on Lake on Salt Spring Island, BC

Hong Kong Chinese, many with Canadian passports, looked beyond the provincial government tax suppression measures that had caused a pause in Vancouver sales (between 2017 and 2019). Suddenly, Vancouver sellers were turning up in all secondary home regions as buyers, and this also ignited sales on Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands.

Is the Real Estate Market Up or Down in BC?

Locally, the market clicked into place around June 23rd, for residential properties. Vancouver sellers had sold a house and needed a house at this end. To begin with, most sales were below 800,000…and then the price point went steadily up to around 1.4. A handful sold between 2 & 3 million. There may have been price reductions en route to an offer and there were still many price reductions at the point of an offer.

Undeveloped Land On the Gulf Islands

Real Estate on Salt Spring Up or Down?
Real Estate on Salt Spring Up or Down?

Now, at the beginning of December, the inventory for residential listings is exceptionally low. Very recently, we have seen buyers starting to consider buying an undeveloped land parcel and to begin a building project. This usually occurs as soon as good residential options have evaporated. It often presages, too, price escalation. At this moment, prices have stabilized.

So, at this very beginning of December…approximately…

  • 55 residential listings
  • 66 land listings.
  • 220 “solds to date”

The inventory of available listings remains extremely low and sales volume has increased over the year, in spite of various covid-related closures.

Salt Spring Island Market Trajectory 2020-2021

Projections are calling for continuing interest in rural regions, and with price increases for any new listings may be on the rise. It is not expected that inventory will increase substantially. Low inventory and high buyer demand usually lead to price escalation. It may take until late February to see the tone of 2021.

Rare whiteout day on Salt Spring Island
Rare whiteout on Salt Spring Island

When will the Canada-U.S. Border Reopen

No place is apart from global outcomes. A change of government in the U.S. will affect Canada. A majority NDP government in B.C. will affect provincial outcomes.? A vaccine against covid will bring change. A re-opened Canada-U.S. border may allow the re-emergence of a traditional buyer in the Gulf Islands. Change, change, everywhere a change…..

Hard asset investment may be another reason why real estate is looked on favourably right now. What I call “land bankers” are now recently turning up to look at undeveloped land parcels. The Islands Trust, a provincial government body created in 1974, did cap growth through its strict zoning bylaws. This cap on growth, over time, is appealing to that investor-buyer.

The season/weather is actually irrelevant in our Gulf Islands area. Although more people might visit Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands in the summer months, it is very usual to see Fall-Winter offers/sales. The Gulf Islands are “seasonless” regions and real estate interest and outcomes occur year-round.

How may I help you to fulfill your Gulf Islands and Salt Spring Island desired real estate outcomes? Look forward to hearing from you.

November 2020, Salt Spring Island Market Analysis

I always think the calendar shift between seasons is a month out on the Pacific Northwest Coast. To me, November is the bringer of Winter.

Daylight Saving Time has returned to Standard Time, and the shorter days are with us. Temperatures cool. Rainy days that live up to the “wet coast” description come and go. Grey is the palette.

The continuing covid-19 restrictions (no large gatherings, social distancing, staying home if not feeling well, frequent hand-washing, sanitizer if not possible, wearing of masks in interior spaces) mean cancellation of loved seasonal events.

Autumn in Salt Spring Island, BC


Online meetings, online shopping, online family and friends visits, online education, online medical, online legal advice….yes, it’s communication, but it’s very different from in-person meet-ups. It’s neither good nor not-good…it’s just different.

Marshall McLuhan, back in the 1970s, alerted us that “the medium is the message”. He was implying that our communication methods shape us. Is the online method making us observers instead of participants?

Meantime, lovely Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands continue to shimmer forward, and to remind us of the beauty of all seasons in this region.

View from Skywater in Salt Spring, British Columbia

Real estate? At the very start of November, we continue to experience thin inventory and buyer desire remains high. Prices appear to have stabilized, although there remain many reductions at the point of a sale.

137 residential listings

  • 36 listings between 299,000 and 998,500
  • 23 listings between 1,025,000 and 1,998,500
  • 7 listings available between 2,000,000 and 2,700,000
  • One listing at 3,100,000
  • One listing at 5,900,000
  • One listing at 12,000,000
  • Two listings at 14,000,000

70 land listings

  • 60 listings between 149,000 and 995,000
  • 7 listings between 1,020,000 and 1,395,000
  • 3 listings between 2,150,000 and 2,495,000

211 sales to date

  • 157 sales between 120,000 and 998,000.
  • 48 sales between 1,017,000 and 1,900,000
  • 6 sales between 2,050,000 and 2,600,100

Price reductions were seen in most transactions at the point of the offer, and price reductions were also still taking place en route to that “last list price”, before the accepted offer.

About Salt Spring In the Winter?

Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands are secondary home markets. Buyers choose to come to Salt Spring and to the other Gulf Islands. No one “has to”. It still takes time, and two visits if not three, for that interested buyer to choose the “where”.

Buyers want to be sure, before committing to the specific island…it’s always a two-step dance. Choose the island and then decide on the property.

As good residential inventory cleans out, there is more interest in undeveloped land and a building project.

There are now many opportunities to showcase a property online. For several years, I have offered 3-D image rich plans and also video walk-throughs and drone videos. Now, these are just required items. Buyers, in spite of these specialty visual marketing options, are often asking realtors to do a face time walk through. Is the next step buying without an on site visit? Perhaps.

salt spring views

What is the Secondary Home Market Like in BC, Canada?

In past years, approximately 50 % of the buyers in the secondary home venues were from the U.S. and Alberta. The closing of the border back in March means no U.S. tourists and no potential buyers. Previously, U.S. & Albertans were recreational.

Since 2016, most buyers have been from Vancouver, and they plan to live in their new areas. This is another reason why it takes two (and often three) visits before choosing for Salt Spring or a Gulf Island…it’s that “being sure” thing, again.

November is the beginning of Winter here, regardless of what the calendar says. Yes, Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands enjoy that “cool Mediterranean” micro-climate and there are more sunny days/less rain than anywhere on the coast. Warmer, less rain, a temperate climate that allows for orchards, olive groves, vineyards, wineries, cideries, craft brewery…lucky us! Salt Spring offers a year-round lifestyle. Questions? Call me!

So…no large gatherings, cancellation of most seasonal events…a different kind of November, indeed, in the time of covid.

What’s Really Important?

Important to pay attention to what is there, right in front of us, to experience and to enjoy. Whether selling, buying, or resting in place, we are in a beautiful environment, with a soft climate, and no thing remains the same forever. When our new normal finally arrives, will we be ready?

That winter pasture, looking sere and lifeless on its surface, is busy at the root level…when Spring arrives that eruption of new growth is suddenly there. Right now is perhaps our “tending the roots” moment.

So: read a fat book, collate family recipes to gift on to younger generations, cook from scratch, light candles for dinner, be cosy by the fireplace, write your memoirs, be totally at ease in the online world (lots of tutorials to look to)…if that’s our surround sound, then let’s be fully immersed in it. Plant bulbs…be wonderfully surprised when they flower forward in February. Decorate for Christmas and give pleasure to others.

October 2020, Salt Spring Island Market Analysis

Is it Fall of 2020?

Livestock
Livestock

October. Here we are…at the 4th quarter in a year’s activity.

It’s also the continuation of the Harvest season…with the Canadian Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend in mid-month.

Covid…whether it’s considered a second wave or just the continuation and possible mutation of the first…remains the background to our days.

Most of us find ourselves saying “these are different days” and they are.

Squash
Squash

As the days shorten, and it cools in the evenings, the restaurants that relied on creative outdoor seating arrangements are grappling with how to social distance when back inside.

Ferries, grocery stores, retail are now making wearing of masks mandatory. Be prepared.

It is flu and cold season, along with covid virus, and the social distancing when out in public, the staying home when not feeling well, and the government encouragement to keep our contact groups small, are all features of this seasonal shift to Fall.

Veggies & Harvest on Salt Spring Island
Veggies & Harvest on Salt Spring Island

Covid has cancelled or re-imagined to a virtual platform many Island events (Fall Fair, Sip and Savour, Apple Fest, Salty Awards, craft fairs, Christmas on Salt Spring among others). Canadians are being encouraged by the federal and provincial governments to forego large family gatherings at Thanksgiving. All meetings and AGMs of various groups are also continuing to be held virtually.

Is The Past Prologue?

Marshall McLuhan reminded us in the 1970s that “the medium is the message”. Our communication methods create us as a species. Online is a talking head process. Will this make us into a species of observers and not participants? What then of Aristotle’s dictum that we are social animals? Hmmm….deep stuff here. Needs some thought. Change is the only constant. Virtual, though, is not the same as “in person”.

Till

So, here we are, at the very beginning of October. In real estate, in all rural/secondary home regions, inventory has thinned right out. That province-wide 10 week shut-down, that began on March 12th, created a huge desire on the part of city dwellers to get to rural/secondary home regions. The Sunshine Coast, the Gulf Islands, Vancouver Island, the Interior communities…all of them experienced a strong real estate sales uptick as soon as the government allowed phase one recovery.

Market Stats:

At this very beginning of October, then, we see

  • 84 residential listings on Salt Spring. This does not separate out waterfronts or farms or acreages…it is just all residential options that are still available.
  • They range in price from $420,000 to $14,000,000. (There are approximately 48 listings between $420,000 and $998,500. There are approximately 24 listings between $1,025,000 and $1,998,500. There are 6 listings between $2,000,000 and $2,700,000. There are 2 listings at $3,128,000 and $3,200,000. There is one listing at $6,688,800, another at $12,000,000, and two at $14,000,000).
  • At this beginning day of October, we see 69 land listings. Again, not separating out waterfront or farms or acreages…just undeveloped land options.
  • The available land opportunities range between $129,000 and $2,495,000. (There are approximately 60 listings between $129,000 and $995,000. There are 6 listings between $1,020,000 and $1,395,000. There are 3 listings between $2,150,000 and $2,495,000).
  • There have been 171 “sales to date”. In this unexpectedly busy year, we are seeing an increase in sales over 2 million (not a feature of our market between 2017 and late 2019).
  • (There have been 121 sales between $120,000 and $998,000. There have been 43 sales between $1,017,000 and $1,900,000. There have been 6 sales between $2,050,000 and $2,600,100).

Rural Shift Continues

The buyers in 2020 continue to be mainly from Vancouver and the desire to redo lifestyles and move to rural areas are the drivers of activity. It is a rewriting of one’s life script.

Bees
Bees

Vancouver buyers plan to live in the location they choose as their destination area…they take time as they first interview the areas they are considering, and so they do check out other rural regions before deciding “for” Salt Spring.

There are few new listings coming onstream to replace the “solds”. Unless they “have to”, most owners of rural properties are holding…they do not want to become sellers.

Thin inventory and high buyer demand can often lead to price escalation. At moment, it seems to be about price stability.

Conditions for Volatility Remain

Next year? There are many variables, including outcomes of elections this Fall, and the continuation of covid responses…the move to hard asset investments may also continue. If so, and inventory remains low, we may see serious price escalation begin. The Island Trust’s cap on growth and the continuing historically low interest rates will both be a part of this.

More information on market trends? Call me! Benefit from my knowledge, expertise, and experience. Your best interests truly are my motivation.

Meanwhile, beautiful October has arrived. Described by the English poet, John Keats, as the “season of mellow fruitfulness”, it is a segue from late summer into winter…enjoy its many Harvest pleasures.

Is Salt Spring Island A Tourist Destination?

The trails for walking/hiking beckon, sailing races have switched from Wednesday evening to Sunday afternoon, the restaurants and coffee stops continue their covid protocols and are offering seasonal delights. The Saturday and Tuesday markets are still underway. Farm gate stands await your pleasure. The Ganges galleries continue to showcase their artists. Watch the ArtSpring newsletter for upcoming events and look for the winter version of ArtCraft (social distancing in place for both, of course).

Salt Spring may have moved into a slower lane, but it remains a treasured place to visit in this softer season.

Li Read - Real Estate Office
Li Read – Real Estate Office

Salt Spring and the Southern Gulf Islands are always lovely, but there is a special beauty on the great Pacific Northwest Coast that belongs to the Fall season and to October in particular.

September 2020, Salt Spring Island Market Analysis

Salt Spring Island, Fall

September is a segue from late summer into early fall, and at this very beginning of the month we are still enjoying sunny days and warm temperatures.

Market Uncertainty Prevails

There remain many uncertainties going forward, due to the impacts of covid-19. Will some businesses that tried to hang on over the traditional July/August summer season now close for good? Will students return to school, with covid protocols in place, or will online classes and home schooling continue? Will covid protocols for accommodations and restaurants allow those visitor-centric businesses to survive over the fall/winter months? Hmmm…the rhythm of Salt Spring may be totally changed as the Island struggles with resilience and recovery.

Migration or Long Term Investments?

The ten week shut-down did result in city people seeking apart places…this was the driver for real estate sales in the Gulf Islands…a Vancouver seller was becoming the buyer in all secondary home regions. In some cases, Vancouver properties were selling to Hong Kong Chinese, many of them with Canadian passports. In other cases, some buyers for the rural areas were simply land-banking, concerned about all the money being printed, and the resulting worry over the validity of currencies. Hmmm….

Low listing inventory and high buyer demand, plus a lack of interest from owners in becoming sellers, have been a feature in all the secondary home markets…including on Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands.

Low inventory and high buyer demand can result in price escalation. This may be underway at this very beginning of September.

Market Snapshot

At this first of the month timeline, a snapshot of the Salt Spring market shows

84 residential listings (not separating out single family, townhomes, waterfront, farms…simply the number of available homes).

Prices range from 479,000 to 14,000,000.

There are currently 76 land listings (again, not separating out lots, acreages, waterfronts, view, farms).

These land opportunities are residentially zoned. Prices range from 129,000 to 2,495,000.

There are 11 commercial options for sale…some are business only and others land/building and business.

Prices range from 175,000 to 15,000,000.

At this very beginning of September, there have been 145 “solds to date”. Some sales occurred in January/February.

Then the 10 week closures due to covid-19 caused a total pause in activity. Around June 20, the increase in buyer action began.

Sales range from 120,000 to 2,600,100.


Rural is Trending

The main driver of sales? The strong desire to get out of the city and to relocate to a rural area. Most sales have been residential, as people plan to live in the chosen rural area…they are not looking for a building project. That said, there is an emergence of a land-banking movement…parking cash in good undeveloped properties. This began to be seen in late August. Very low interest rates are another propeller to buyer action right now.

Listing inventory in all property types/price ranges remains extraordinarily low. Sellers on a Gulf Island are always aware that it is a buyer’s choice to decide “for” a Gulf Island /Salt Spring Island. In the main, sellers do listen to serious offers. The lifestyle offered on Salt Spring/the Gulf Islands is very pleasing…but it is also always a choice. More information about this, and the interesting cap on growth, created by the Islands Trust back in 1974? Call me!

As covid-19 continues to have impact globally, and as geopolitics evolve, the lovely “apart” places (such as Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands) will not be unaffected. We are all part of the world outcomes. Pre-covid, globalization was the pattern. Post-covid, will we see a return to more local investments? Is that even possible in an online world?

Community Matters

Salt Spring also offers a caring community and that aspect is ever more important. Support local, enjoy local, choose local…especially as the online purchase/distribution option continues to grow. It is a choice to preserve the Salt Spring vibe.

Meantime: September offers that amazing harvest time…catch the Tuesday Farmers Market, check out the farm gate stands, be on a farmers “box” list and support local. A pared down / covid responsive Saturday Market is also underway. ArtCraft is open for a few more weeks…check out the amazing artist offerings here. Fall Fair will be a virtual event…be sure to view it online. ArtSpring is opening for some events…with covid protocols in place. Cooler mornings and evenings, with warm afternoons, are a part of September’s easing from summer-into-fall. Lots of decks and patios to enjoy coffee, lunch, dinner…how lucky we are with our super restaurants. Hiking/walking trails, kayak voyages, sailing races…the natural world beckons.

This is a beautiful time of year…enjoy!