Salt Spring Island, December 2023, Market Analysis

December, 2023.

December. It brings celebrations and also a recap of an entire year’s outcomes.
It also introduces the calendar shift from Fall into Winter on December 20/21… (although meteorological Winter is December 1st).

Short days, mix of rain and sunbursts, occasional snow, and a turn towards the cosy appeal of “home”. December also offers cultural traditions and celebratory holiday events…whether with family or friends or on one’s own, it’s important to pay attention to and to enjoy these annual celebrations.

Real Estate Salt Spring – December 2023

Looking at real estate outcomes, the entire Fall has been a continuation of low inventory, with steady buyer inquiries, but slower sales decisions. Buyers have continued to be interested, but also remain in a “pause mode” about action. December begins with the same trend.

Part of the “pause” is about worry: interest rate uncertainty, impacts of inflation, currency worries, lack of choice for buyers (low inventory does not encourage action), wars and rumours of wars, geopolitical fears. At the same time, a desire to escape urban for rural continues as a strong motivator for action. It’s true that sales are down, but that is partly because there are fewer listings to sell.

What is the Best Time to List

There is no specific “good” time when one might decide to list…there are always buyers around. Sellers and realtors do not create market trends…buyers do that. They act and so create a pattern. The federal government push for strong immigration continues, and the lack of housing also remains as a cross-Canada factor. Lack of supply keeps prices stable and promises escalation.

Salt Spring Island – Recreational Area

In B.C., the provincial government continues to add regions to the speculation/vacancy tax. This is in an effort to add to the rental housing stock. If the government added back in the “fixed tenancy” option on a lease, one might find a lot more owners willing to be landlords. The current provincial government cancelled this option. The Gulf Islands (under the Islands Trust form of governance) are considered recreational areas (along with Whistler) and so are not part of the speculation/vacancy tax regions.

Currently, a year lease in a rental goes automatically to a month to month when the lease expires, and an owner can only evict a tenant if they plan to move back into the home or if they sell it and the new owner is moving in. A fixed tenancy means a tenant leaves on that date…or a new fixed tenancy lease can be structured. On the Gulf Islands, this is the only latitude for an owner to remain in control of a tenancy. When the government cancelled this option, rentals became scarce.

Recent Sales Data – Salt Spring Island

At this very beginning of December, there are approximately 88 residential listings available on Salt Spring…not separating out single family, townhomes, waterfront, view, farms. There are approximately 34 land listings for sale…not separating out lots, acreages, waterfront, view, farms. There have been approximately 173 sales to date, ranging from $55,000 for a single-wide trailer in a mobile home park to $4.288 for a 5 acre waterfront home. That may sound like a lot of listing options (122+/- in total, residential and land), but a more balanced market would be in the neighbourhood of 250+ total listings. Lack of supply is the key to price stability and possible price escalation. The market trend effects of this continuing high immigration and low housing inventory may be clearer by late February/early March.

Will AI Change Real Estate?

The impact of AI on real estate is in its infancy…it will be interesting to see outcomes as we go into the new year. New ways to deal with commission structures will also be discussed. December is a month that straddles the past year and looks forward to the “almost here” new year. Change remains the surround sound of our times.

Meantime, this time of year inspires and offers the allure of lights and decorations and special events…of sounds and songs of traditions…of family and friends gathering…of the beauty of a quieter and softer season. It’s a time to enjoy this season of gratitude and joy.
December smiles hello…..