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!