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Market Analysis, January 2019, Salt Spring Island

View of Mount Baker from Salt Spring Island

January is an interesting month. It’s mid-winter, a quieter time, with many people taking holidays in sunny places…and there is a sense of pause after December’s busy holiday celebrations.

The beginning of a year is also a time to dream our plans into action.

In real estate, potential buyers are active on the Internet, searching out information on areas that might be of interest to them. Potential sellers are wondering about market indicators…mulling over timing…seeing if it’s a good time to list.

There are always sellers and buyers

Real estate on the Gulf Islands is not time sensitive. Although tourism is busiest in late Spring to late Summer, real estate activity takes place throughout the year…the Gulf Islands / Salt Spring Island are really “seasonless”.

January is a good time to catch up on the societal changes underway. Read information on block chain technology. Get behind the sound bites/prepared headlines. Think about what it really means in Life After Google. Attend investment conferences. Listen a lot…no one really has definitive answers. Your ideas are equally worthy.

These profound societal shifts will also change real estate, as an industry. No aspect of our culture will be untouched. Important to remember: in change lies opportunity.

One thing we know, locally, as we start into January: the listing inventory remains very thin on Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands. Owners are still preferring not to be sellers.

The Islands Trust

The Islands Trust maintains those 1974 “controlled growth” zoning/bylaws. This means there will always be low inventory, in spite of market movements over time.

Buyers right now are hoping to connect with a Gulf Island property. Market signals like lack of inventory coupled with buyer desire do result in price increases, over time.

In spite of immediate repercussions from the provincial government’s 2018 measures to suppress real estate markets in Vancouver (and also in Victoria, Nanaimo, Kelowna), it is not possible to artificially control a market long-term. Markets have their own rhythms. The spring/summer 2018 pause in action, as a result of government interventions, may be erasing.

Vancouver is now a world-class city, and may never be affordable. The buyer market is global. When owners sell in Vancouver, they will buy in nearby areas…Salt Spring, with its year-round lifestyle and services/amenities at hand, is often top of mind for that buyer from elsewhere. Supply of product becomes of interest.

There is no “local buyer” on the Gulf Islands

There is no “local buyer” on the Gulf Islands…whether a recreational buyer or someone seeking a year-round lifestyle, the Gulf Islands destinations attract…and it’s rare that people move around once they locate here.

I often think that real estate sales in the Gulf Islands fall into thirds. November, December, January, February are perhaps similar enough to be noted as a market “one third”. The first two months of a New Year do seem to mirror the patterns of the last two months of the previous year.

It’s common to have some sales reported in the early days of January…the business would have been done in the latter part of 2018, but completing in early 2019 (perhaps for tax reasons).

It really takes until March Break to see the emergence of a market trend, in our kind of secondary home/discretionary marketplace.

Steady activity and consistent sales best describe the closing months of 2018. Most sales were residential offerings, below 800,000. This pattern may continue into the first two months of 2019. There does seem to have been a slow beginning in interest in the upper tier priced residential market segment, in 2018…this trend may continue more strongly in 2019. An interest in undeveloped land parcels/and a construction project may also be a feature of 2019…based on lack of residential supply.

No one has a crystal ball. In our global village world, no area is immune from events in distant places. The allure of “pocket places” remains, however (and Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands, protected by the Islands Trust 1974 mandate, and close to major centres, are such pocket places).

2019 may see continuing low inventory and also a beginning of higher prices (that old law of supply and demand).

January gets its name from Janus, the ancient Roman deity with two faces…one looking back and one looking ahead. Pay attention to the past…but definitely be looking ahead. That’s where discovery lives.

Discover Yourself Here!

That’s the Salt Spring Chamber of Commerce invitation: “Discover Yourself Here!”, and it’s a promise to those who respond.

Are you seeking a Salt Spring Island or Gulf Island property? Benefit from my knowledge and expertise. How may I help you to buy your special place? Call me!

March 2013, Market Analysis, Salt Spring

In like a lamb, out like a lion…

love those weather lore quotes. Always said with firmness, as if weather is a known quantity, unchanging, to be counted on.

March hovers between winter’s grey and Spring’s allure. This might be the year where we are gifted with one of those delectable Pacific Northwest Coast early Spring moments…fingers crossed.

A change of seasons is always welcome. Other changes may not be so pleasing. Attitude decides, perhaps?

Our moment in time seems to be about nothing but change, where suddenly what used to work no longer does.

The eraser of the Internet just keeps brushing through all of society, wiping clean earlier solidities.

That search engine eye never sleeps. Anyone anywhere (if governments allow it) can seek and find. Suddenly the seeker of information is in control of the process.

We can buy cars via an Internet search. We can buy stocks through Internet trades, do our banking online, purchase gifts and groceries and household items online, discover real estate choices via Internet marketing, make travel arrangements and accommodation bookings online, pay bills, meet significant others, and take part in online delivered education choices. Medical appointments dealt with virtually, books and music purchased and enjoyed online, business webinars held in lieu of flights to meetings in central locations…there is no aspect of our business and personal lives untouched by the impact of the Internet. Retail storefronts are abandoning their fixed locations and easing into online versions. What does this mean for commercial malls? What about the disguises offered by virtual worlds?

Two realities are meshing…face to face and virtual meet-ups. Isn’t that what social media is all about? Is one encounter better than the other?

Hybrid pre-Internet beings are betwixt and between, able to speak both Twentieth Century dialect and Twenty-First lingo. Post-Internet inhabitants don’t understand what all the fuss is about…it’s all just the surround sound of our time…the wallpaper, if you will, and not to be paid attention to.

So, a table of diners in a restaurant are observed flowing between texting those not present on that ubiquitous smart phone and chatting to each other…often at the same time. People walk along texting or checking emails or making calls. Laws are passed to prohibit driving and texting or using a cell phone, at the same time.

That smart phone blurs the physical and the mind’s eye, floating us between here and there, and effortlessly so.

Neither good nor bad…just what is.

Language is an elastic communication device, and as Marshall McLuhan reminded us: “the medium is the message”. So what if twitter and texting prescribe short-hand symbols? As long as the messaging is understood by the recipient, does it matter?

We live in a time when everything is still available to us, pre and post Internet styles seemingly evenly weighted. The terrain continues to quickly evolve. Still a brief time left to enjoy this moment of shift, between two world views.

Oh, yes…all you hybrid beings out there: how long did it take you to figure out LOL?

Laughter, remember, is essential at the cellular level. Out loud is just fine with me.