Tag Archives: marketing

July 2012, Salt Spring Island Real Estate Market Analysis

The short intensity of our “season” is upon us…July/August/Sept/October are the physicality moments on Island, for actual viewings.

Inquiries come in year-round, but physical presence to view happens in this short window. Often, when an offer comes in during other months, it turns out that the viewing of the property occurred during these four key months.

These months are also considered to be the best, weather-wise, in our region…definitely a correlation, then, re this timing issue.

Tourism has been the start of sales action in our Gulf Islands environment. People arrive by private boat, by ferry/car, by floatplane…they stay, meander the charms of Ganges Village & discover the environmental beauties of the Island itself…then they decide on a second home/recreational retreat or, if possible, retire & move here, to discover a new lifestyle.

No one “has to” buy on Salt Spring or on another Gulf Island…..it’s all by choice.

This discretionary quality can often mean time lags in decisions. Important for a seller to be “out there”, though, so that a buyer searching on the internet can discover their property option…even though months may go by before they turn up to view & more months may pass before a sales transaction takes place. There is no motivator to action…it’s all at the discretion of the buyer.

Sellers need to be patient & realtors need to be consistent in their marketing message. The Internet has totally changed real estate as an industry, and this is especially evident in the secondary home marketplace. The consumer is now in control, and in a secondary home/resort-based area, the consumer controls the where and the when of all sales.

That said, both the tourism discovery and the weather pattern that attracts, in this coastal region, are underway.

For the first time in almost four years, buyers are back in our area. Appraisers feel that prices dropped around 35% between mid-2007 and mid-2012. Sales volume this year, however, has gone up over last by around 40%.

The sales activity between January 1 & end of June has mainly been in the entry level residential category. Starting in mid-April, the buyer was having to come closer to a seller in offer price point…before that, a seller had to drop further, never mind the reductions en route, to meet the buyer. The difference? Thinning inventory in the entry level residential segment creates price stability.

Prices in the upper tier priced residential options are not stable. The very few sales between one million and 1.5 still show large reductions at the point of the offer.

Undeveloped land sales and commercial property sales remain “flat”.

At this beginning moment, first of July, we may see a build-up of activity in the upper tier priced properties. Between 2007 and present day, most have seen price reductions in the millions…as they slowly capture a buyer’s attention, price points drop substantially further at point of the offer. In this still sticky segment, the buyer reluctance remains a factor.

So…price stability & thinning inventory in entry level residential, lack of consistent interest in upper tier residential, with accompanying severe price reductions when a sale does take place, and no interest yet in undeveloped land or in commercial opportunities. Hmmm…sounds like a market in flux, to me.

Markets are cyclical, and we may be in year 7 of a 7 to 10 year cycle…this implies a natural uptick in activity. Thinning inventory foretells price increases. Undeveloped land sales/new construction will follow, as good residential options sell off. The upper tier options will also improve in sales as a safe haven seeking continues to grow.

So important, in a shift moment, to be looking down the highway and not in the rear view mirror. A positive change is underway in real estate investing.

We are just entering our “season”…and the larger market cycle is slowly upticking. As a seller, this is good news for the first time in four years. For a buyer, it’s an alert to act now…that proverbial buyers market does not last forever, and by this time next year may have vanished entirely.

Perhaps this is the sales volume season?

More information? Call me! How may I help you to buy or to sell your special Island property? Look forward to bringing my knowledge (of both inventory and of trends) to your benefit.

May 2012, Salt Spring Island Real Estate Market Analysis

Copyright, Li Read, 2012

May, 2012.

It’s Spring in more ways than one…the slow uptick in the real estate market continues. Is this the renewed market everyone has been seeking?

Beginning days of improvement are underway, after the severe three year “Fall & Winter” flat/inaction in the hard asset investment choices…now there is a re-emergence of sales volume…are we in year 7 of a 7 to 10 year cycle? Perhaps.

If so, it’s a natural progression towards stability & growth. All markets follow cycles, and the feedback from all regions is that sales volume has jumped up in the entry level priced residential property category. Prices are still volatile.

This entry level pricings segment always improves first…in our local region, we have seen a sales volume uptick of around 30%, although the majority of sales to date are below 700,000…& most sales still fall below 500,000.

Prices are not stable and there are still serious price reductions at the point of an offer, in spite of earlier reductions en route to the offer.

Action in the upper tier priced residential category remains very spotty/flat…undeveloped land options & the commercial segment remain without interest.

Nevertheless, an increase in sales volume of around 30% in the first quarter is a sign of an emerging market. And in our specific area, this renewed activity is fully there at the beginning of our traditional “season”: May to early October. Good news, then, to have seen the first quarter busy when it should be & in the price level it should be. Timing is key to all markets.

Throughout North America, strong sales & thinning inventory are the outcomes of this first quarter activity, & this is now the case in secondary home/discretionary regions, too. Something new! Yes, the strong sales action is mainly in entry level priced residential properties, but this activity is seen across the board.

By July, all media options (they are always behind a market trend, as have to rely on statistics from past months) will be reporting this shift into renewed buyer action.

Why now? Perhaps the fear that cash is eroding as a means to preserve capital is making buyers reappear? Currencies are suddenly perceived as insecure, & there’s a growing desire for a safe haven, a seeking to be self-sufficient, a fear of the stock market’s volatility?…these all might be some reasons for the return to hard asset investment choices, & a resurgence in interest in discretionary properties. Suddenly, a purchase of a unique property in an area like the Gulf Islands is perceived as a good holding.

With huge uptick in entry level sales, which brings strengthening of prices & thinning inventory, and at the time of year this traditionally happens (first quarter), we are positioned to now welcome upper tier priced property buyers, & investors in land. May, July, August, early September are the key months, traditionally, for that investor buyer to appear.

The property market in secondary home/discretionary regions slowed in 2006. Sales volume decreased & a pause was very evident by 2007. The economic collapses of 2008 afflicted all regions, globally.

Primary residence/city markets saw a soft uptick in entry level sales by 2010…the secondary home/resort based marketplaces remained sluggish. Low interest rates never seem to jumpstart action. Buyers set markets, not sellers or realtors. When a buyer is “on hold” (& no one “has to” buy a second home or retire in any particular timeframe), then nothing will happen in a discretionary marketplace.

Price reductions don’t drive action. Those sellers who had the option to do so, and did remove themselves from the market, were wise. Pressure from companies to reduce prices (without an outcome) was perhaps understandable, from the company’s point of view, but it was not reflecting the buyer voice. When a buyer says: “I don’t know…I”ll think about it”…they mean it!

Now, the buyer is back, for the first time in the past three year period. The secondary home marketplace is busying up. By late Fall, we may see action having occurred in upper tier priced residential, in undeveloped land opportunities, & in commercial/investment options. We may be approaching year 8 of a 7 to 10 year cycle, and so should see thinning inventory/price stability/some multiple offer situations for unique & irreplaceable property options. Those owners who waited it out were wise; not always possible to do that, though.

The real estate industry itself continues to shift dramatically, in our post-Internet world. Change is the wallpaper of our global village. Thales was right that we never step into the same river twice. Now, as we enter May & the beginning of our “real” (& very short!) season, the buyers are back in our kind of market-by-choice, & the uptick is here. More info? Call me!

Don’t be looking in the rear view mirror…time for that down the highway vista!

Sales volume + thinning inventory + stability of pricing = movement to a sellers market.

And your thoughts are? Always welcome!

How may I help you to buy your special Salt Spring Island or Gulf Islands or Vancouver Island property? Call me!

April 2012, Salt Spring Island Market Analysis

April, 2012

Change is erupting all around us.

The change of seasons is the easy one!

The continuing evolution of our post-Internet 21st Century world delivers shifts on an almost daily basis, and in all spheres.

The MLS system is undergoing substantial change. The consumer control over connection means agent marketing must change, and what about social media venues for linking a buyer with a realtor and thus with a seller? What about that role of the realtor as the connecting bridge between a seller & a buyer?

Locally on Salt Spring, in real estate, we have seen the closing of a long standing franchise based local office and seen its office space & remaining realtors being assumed by a non-franchise off-island company.

I think this kind of amalgamation/restructuring will continue. The impact of the internet on all business models continues. Nothing remains untouched. The car industry, the travel industry, the stock market & financial side of investment, even education…these business models have completely changed because of that consumer-oriented Internet impact. The Real Estate industry is no exception.

The franchise model of real estate is a 20th Century and pre-Internet concept. Any benefits to a franchise connection were erased after the internet’s impact. The Internet delivered control of the sales process to the consumer of the service.

As the technological and consumer oriented world continues to progress, some franchise options are disappearing or are trying to survive by amalgamating with others. The “big box” solution.

Some others are attempting to fit the very different evolutions in the business world into their systems…add ons with the appearance of the “new” (meaning the “current”). Since the ground level is where the change has occurred, this band-aid approach may not be sustainable.

Localized boutique style and “niche” business models may be an arrow towards a new/different sales model…if such boutique ventures are using the Internet the way the consumer is involved with it, that is. One has to be where the customer is…otherwise, in the all encompassing terrain of the Global Village, the information won’t get to the consumer.

The bottom line: what system displays the information directly to the consumer, and, at the same time, invites a proactive response from that consumer? Ah…that is the question and the oh so sought after answer! Isn’t that what SEO is all about?

Real Estate companies put together an array of marketing ideas for their salespeople. The company charges their salespeople to use them. Nothing is for free. These options appear as logos on generic company sponsored business cards, and are mentioned on company websites.

To benefit from these options, though, an individual realtor would have to pay for their use. Belonging to a franchise company is the generic logo part. To use what that company promises, the individual realtors pay to take part. Unless they do that, the company descriptions are just logos, with no particular focus on specific listings/areas.

Marketing is about perception, of course. Even if no substance behind it, the mere statement of something promised will often create an initial business relationship. This does not deliver a hoped for result, however.

Be sure to inquire. Yes, yes…your company says “x”, but do you do that for me, as my individual realtor in my specific area? Be a savvy consumer!

A branch office of a franchise (each office is locally owned and operated; the franchise name is like an overall umbrella name), or a boutique option (specific to an area), or a realtor acting unilaterally, as a Licenced individual…the 21st Century allows them all, and due to the impact of that direct consumer experience, the search engine power, all of them are now equal in marketing venues. Now that is something different!

A “big box” name is sitting on the same level playing field, now, as the area specific boutique office or even the individual realtor presence. That leveling influence is, of course, the result of the consumer driven Internet search…with its capability that puts the user of the search in control of both the discovery & the outcome. Different days, indeed!

And what about that office? Is it real? Virtual? Does it matter? Not.

In the Ethernet space of the virtual Internet world, it’s the information that is being provided, to the searching & consumer driven “engine”, that is the essential item.

I always feel that our time is like that classic schism between the long ages of the agrarian lifestyle & the sudden, unforeseen, explosive impact of the Industrial Revolution. Those on the side of the older world experienced the pain of change & some jobs disappeared. Those on the side of the new world of the machine age experienced the euphoria of change & new jobs came into being. Sound familiar?

Change means different…something new replacing something old. In a post-internet business environment, the key is to get the information to the attention of the person who needs that information. However, that “consumer in control of the action” aspect means that the end user is in charge of the “where & the when” of the action.

I think real estate as an industry is in the middle of the change delivered by the Internet.

As a realtor, one has to be in the flow of the shift, and be attentive to what delivers the bridge moment between a seller and a buyer.

That is where a realtor lives…at the point of expediting that connection. Important, then, that the realtor remain nimble & willing to change, & to experiment, in the effort to connect a listing with a buyer.

Ah…in change lies opportunity.

Markets are not static items, either. This Spring, the Gulf Islands are showing a definite uptick in sales volume in the entry level priced residential category. It is just beginning to be felt by the upper tier priced residential options. Good news, indeed! We may be in the slow climb out of a downmarket…perhaps we are in year 7 of a 7 to 10 year cycle?

Our season is traditionally March Break to Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend, in early October. For the first time in four years, there is market buoyancy when there should be.

As a buyer, it’s important to recognize that the benefits of a buyer’s market may be dissipating. Seller’s market in place by late Fall or by early Spring, next year? Hmmm…change, remember. Being nimble..being in the flow of what is.

March 2012, Salt Spring Island Market Analyses

It seems, in our secondary home/discretionary area, that January & February are often a continuation of the rhythm of November & December, of the previous year.

March, then, usually begins the pattern of the current year, and the number of March Break arrivals to view property, and possibly to make offers, forecasts the summer season…busy at March-Break-into-Easter usually means brisk sales time from mid-May to mid-September (our traditional “season”).

We may be in year seven of a seven to ten year cycle, which means a slow upticking in sales volume may already have begun. To date, there have been fourteen firm sales, since beginning of January. Ten have been under 620,000…most below 500,000.

This steady sales pattern mainly in the entry level residential category has been a feature of the Salt Spring sales picture for about two years…this busier first two months is perhaps a sign of consistency to the marketplace…a good feature, indeed.

Sales in undeveloped land options have not yet improved. In a downmarket, buyers are not seeking a holding property nor do they want a building project. The slow roll-back of the HST tax may help in the new home category
, particularly in city or large town environments, with developments & spec housing…in discretionary/secondary home areas, where building projects are custom & personal options, the HST repeal may or may not create activity.

The upper tier priced luxury residential segment also remains quiet. In some few cases on Salt Spring & the Gulf Islands, extraordinarily motivated sellers have accepted very low prices, well below intrinsic or replacement values & also below tax assessments. Personal need is not noted by appraisers; they look at the sale price, only. These lower prices will affect stats.

In many cases, in the luxury segment, local realtors have encouraged very broad price reductions, in an effort to jump start action from a buyer. These reductions do not appear to create buyer interest. In a secondary home marketplace, a purchase is about choice…and that choosing can be deferred until the buyer sees a definite sign of a hard asset recovery. Buying is an action propelled by confidence.

Price reductions do affect all sellers, however, as it is essential to be seen to be competitive in pricing, when a buyer might be looking at equivalent properties, also for sale.

Thinning inventories may lead to price stability and then to slowly increasing prices.

Nothing ever stays down (or up)…that equilibrium moment, when the teeter-totter of a market cycle appears to be evenly balanced, is of very short duration.

Low mortgage rates are not the motivator to action that one might think. It is buyer confidence that creates a market response. Sellers and realtors do not create a market…buyers do.

In a city market, there are usually more entry level options available, overall, and correspondingly fewer luxury choices. In a secondary home/discretionary and resort-based area, the opposite is true. Such areas attract buyers lucky enough to own more than one property, or purchasers who, because of the Internet, can choose to live anywhere in the world and thus could work from a Gulf Island, or perhaps the buyer is someone who has done well elsewhere & can now choose a Gulf Island to retreat/”retire” to…it’s a specialized buyer profile who is in a position to create their personal dream.

A purchase in an area like Salt Spring Island and the Gulf Islands is about choice…and choice in timing is also a part of this. The buyer sets the pace in a discretionary marketplace.

The Gulf Islands are not municipalities…they are governed by the government body known as the Islands Trust. The Trust has been in place since 1974, & development on all the Islands is firmly controlled by strict zoning/density bylaws.

Bowen Island voted to become a Gulf Islands Municipality some years ago…the Trust & its bylaws remain in place, however. Salt Spring might consider this outcome, too.

There is an impression that the international market is moving out of cash right now and back into hard assets/commodities, including real estate. The continuing unraveling of the global economic picture has an impact on every region. We are in the post-Internet world, vitally interconnected, and the Global Village is with us. In difficult times, hard asset investment is understood as a way to protect capital.

An interesting sidebar to the post-Internet world is that it has not only erased time & geography, but has also made “someplace” in competition with “everyplace”. It’s a big world, after all! Choice, again….

Salt Spring Island and the Gulf Islands enjoy scenic beauty and environmental protection. They enjoy all of the amenities necessary to partake of life in the “real” 21st Century, and yet experience the allure of “yesteryear”. They have easy access to major centres, yet offer a village lifestyle. A temperate climate creates opportunity to be self-sustaining…the 10K diet is alive & well, here. A strong arts community, a dynamic cultural life, an oceanfront pleasure…these islands are in the heart of the best protected boating waters in the world. One is gifted to be able to live in this still very undiscovered area.

Salt Spring Island: Arts, Music & History

Salt Spring Island: Arts, Music & History

Well done, Birgit Freybe Bateman! 70 photographs are crated and on their way to Russia (to the Stroganoff Palace
of the Russian Museum, to be exact). This retrospective of Birgit Bateman’s amazingly evocative and thoughtful photography is called: “Mindful Vision”. On Island, we’ve been lucky to view Birgit’s work at such presentations as ArtSpring’s “Photosynthesis” show. The “Mindful Vision” show will be seen during the peak tourist season, between July 2 and August 30.

Salt Spring Woodworks has had a name change: same location and same beautiful offerings, just a re-name to Duthie Gallery. A physical change to the gallery itself mirrors the name change. The evocative Summer Lights exhibit will be back in July/August, Thursday to Monday, 9 to 11 p. m. Currently, the gallery is open Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or by appointment.

Alan Gerber plays Moby’s tonight, a dinner music show, $12 cover charge, show at 8 p.m. It’s a WOW…wave if you see me!

Saturday, May 14th, it’s an opening reception at Starfish Gallery in Grace Point Square…featuring Susan Haigh and introducing Beverly Chicoine. Show runs from May 14 to June 4th.

Mark your calendars: Viva Voce performs at ArtSpring, Saturday, May 28th, 8 p.m., and Sunday, May 29th, 2 p.m. Conductor: Debbie Toole, accompanist: Chris Kodaly.

House concert, May 14th, with John and Michelle Law: folk, bluegrass, acoustic country. RSVP to 250-537-1059, plus ticket info.

ArtSpring benefit on Saturday night: Joy Kogawa will read from her lifetime of award-winning creative work, at ArtSpring Gallery. MC will be Briony Penn. The evening is presented by the Land Conservancy of B.C. Doors open at 6:30.

Tonight is a very important evening at Mahon Hall. The Salt Spring Arts Council‘s steering committee for a new arts school will present a distillation of recent community conversations at a wrap up session. Starts at 6:30…see you there!

Don Conley presents Back to Bach…the last presentation of Simply Organic, for the Spring season. Don will explore the development of the concerto form during the Baroque period, which was a time of flowering of emerging musical forms. Mark your calendar: May 18th, 10:10 a.m., at All Saints by the Sea. Lucky Islanders, to have this in our midst!

This Saturday, the Salt Spring Island branch of SPCA invites the community to an animal-themed day of fun. From noon to 4 p.m., at location below Gulf Islands Veterinary Clinic. Check this fund-raiser out!

Live music venues: Harbour House Hotel, Friday, Saturday, Sunday! Moby’s Oyster Bar (Alan Gerber tonight). Treehouse Cafe…tonight, catch Peter Prince. Friday, it’s the so talented Billie Woods. The 111 nights of live music (Music Under The Stars) begins in May 16th!

The Salt Spring Forum presents Maher Arar, at ArtSpring, May 21, at 7:30 p.m. He speaks on Democracy, Human Rights, and the Middle East. Call ArtSpring for ticket info.

Lots to see and to do…enjoy the Spring Season!

Marketing Real Estate in “Interesting Times”

November 2010 | Gulf Islands Real Estate Market Analysis

Interesting times we live in!

Wasn’t that the Chinese Curse?

I think, though, that change offers opportunity…

Check out my radio show podcast and listen to my interview with “Carolina George.”

George, originally from Ontario, now lives in North Carolina, and is a major player in the digital post-internet world we now all inhabit.

As a hybrid being, with a foot in the 20th Century and another in the beginnings of the “real” 21st Century, I feel like my role might be as an interpreter between two beings: BG (Before Google) and AG (After Google).

A divide that is so profound that there is really no true meeting ground.

The historian Barbara Tuchman wrote a book, in the 1970s, bringing to life the world of the 14th Century. It might be prudent to revisit her book. Messages from the 14th to the 21st Century? Perhaps….

After all, Gutenberg‘s discovery at that time, and subsequent implementation of the printing press, erased centuries of agrarian top down culture and gave birth to the ascendance of “the common man” and the creation of that middle class power base that resulted in the Industrial Revolution.

Click here to download a PDF of analysis and here to read in its entirety.