Salt Spring Island, March 2023, Market Analysis

March, 2023.

Meteorological Spring

March 1st is meteorological Spring…the calendar says it’s March 20th. This 2022/2023 winter La Niña weather pattern on Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands brought several snow and wind storms, (not our usual “cool Mediterranean” winter pattern). Now the very beginning of March says hello and smiles its daffodil promise. I’m in.

A pause is not a correction

What about that mixed message real estate pattern? In Fall 2022, there was a significant pause in activity/outcomes, although low inventory remained the theme. Buyers appeared to be digesting fearful issues such as increases in interest rates and impacts of inflationary pressures. A pause is not a correction.

In early 2023, activity began again. The same uncertainties remained: impacts of interest rate rises and inflationary pressures, worry about geopolitical issues (distant wars, supply chain inadequacies, concerns about lingering pandemic outbreaks and possible new ones, currency worries, among others)…it seemed, however, that people just wanted to get on with their lives, and so action ramped up.

The main driver to action continues to be that flight from urban to rural. The main buyer profile in the rural areas continues to be from Vancouver/Lower Mainland.

Lack of Housing Remains

The lack of housing is a huge problem across Canada, and also impacts the entire province. Federally, the government is seeking to attract 500,000 immigrants a year, starting this year. Lack of housing to buy or to rent will continue to keep prices stable in all regions…and possibly lead to renewed price increases, especially in desired areas.

On Salt Spring, at this very beginning of March, there are very few single family homes listed for sale, and those residential offerings under one million tend to be strata properties (mainly townhomes) or small recreational cottages or serious fixer-uppers. Even properties over a million may need renovations…there are very few step-in ready opportunities available at this moment.

Self Reliance vs Assistance

Interest in farm-style options continues…a desire to be self-sufficient (yes, that’s our friend the “back to the land” movement again). Boaters do ask about waterfronts with a dock…and these are quite rare now. Rare does imply stronger pricing.

There may be some listings opening up from aging retirees, who might like to return to city options, to be close to specific health requirements or to family, but they can’t move unless they can find something where they would like to move to…lack of inventory is an issue everywhere. These aging boomers do not want to be houseless, and so that lack of housing product everywhere does stop listing outcomes on the Gulf Islands.

We live in an era of profound change and part of that is to do with impacts of artificial intelligence on our everyday lives. Another: the moving off of the boomer voice and the impact of the millennial shift. It’s important to think about that when listing a home built in the 1990s, say. A lot of that era is on the Gulf Islands. Who is the buyer? What is a millennial seeking? How might one create that in a boomer-built house?

In spite of so many shifts and concerns, it’s important to remember the important things: family, friends, volunteering, keeping an eye on the future (no need to fear it…it’s just the evolution of what we always do…live our lives), and to work for best outcomes for our communities.

Looking to move to Salt Spring or a Gulf Island? Thinking of selling your piece of paradise? Call me. Successfully connecting buyers with sellers since 1989, I look forward to bringing my expertise, knowledge, and experience to your benefit. (

So…March. Time to pick up a picnic lunch and renew your experience of Ruckle Park trails and ocean vistas. Time to meet with friends for lunch or dinner with a view (Moby’s, Seaside, Auntie Pesto’s, Rock Salt, Hastings House). Time to seriously Spring Clean (it’s the windows…sparkle them up). Time to get ready for all the upcoming openings (Saturday Market, galleries showcasing new artists works, splashes of colour in gardens, the delectable coves and beaches to visit and to inspire summer plans).

March is the beginning of our Gulf Islands season. The earth flowers forward. Be there. Notice. Be inspired. Welcome.