Tag Archives: vancouver island

November 2015, Market Analysis

November 2015

Fulford Harbour, Salt Spring Island

Fulford Harbour, Salt Spring Island

We are now sliding into the Fall-into-Winter moment.

There is often a perception that Salt Spring, the Gulf Islands, and Vancouver Island are seasonal markets…busier in late Spring and Summer…with less happening in the supposed “off season”. Not so.

It’s important to be presented to the marketplace at all times, in this post-Internet era. The Google search eye never sleeps. Someone, somewhere is searching.

In our secondary home/discretionary region, on this thin strip of the beautiful Pacific Northwest Coast, potential buyers now turn up, physically, between mid-summer and late fall…to view what had caught their attention earlier, on the net.

Many sales thus take place between August and end of the year. This catches many sellers off guard, if they have only a Spring/Summer mindset for a possible sale.

At this point, in a still busy sales time, we can point to continuing signs of an authentic market shift…in a strong upward direction:

  • Thinning inventory.
  • Rising price levels in the entry level residential priced category.
  • Sales of undeveloped land.
  • Stronger interest in higher end residential options…with more sales in this segment.
  • Buyer desire to buy a retirement or recreational or investment property.
  • Concerns over currencies making hard asset investments of interest.
  • Media reporting on all the above.

No matter the market trend in play at any time, there is always opportunity in a property purchase. Over time, a real estate investment is an important one. It is a wealth builder and a wealth preserver, although it is a “long tail” investment decision.

If you are considering a purchase of a Salt Spring Island, other Gulf Island, or Vancouver Island property, call me. My strong referral network will connect you to the best agents if your wish list lies in an area outside my circle of expertise. Benefit from my knowledge, of both inventory & of trends…let me help you to discover the right property for you.

The transition period between a buyers and a sellers market is rapidly closing, in our Gulf Islands area.

In the entry level priced residential properties (below $550,000, say?), we are already seeing sellers conditions. In undeveloped land sales, it’s still early days. Waterfront & superlative ocean view acreages always see earliest activity, in upper tier residential (over $900,000), and this pattern has just started (since August?)…waterfronts and equestrian friendly acreages are currently most in demand. The spread between list and sale price points is rapidly narrowing in all property types.

These are the key factors pointing to the close of the transition period: narrowing price spread, thinning inventory, sales volume increase.

Our coastal secondary home regions only began to see “soft” recovery in late 2014. Now, although still not even-handed, and many properties still not seeing “fast sales”, we are almost through the transition period…many people, locally, liken both our current real estate and our small business recovery to 2006/2007 patterns. Pre-economic collapse of 2008, then. All good news!

How may I help you to buy your special Salt Spring Island, Gulf Island, or Vancouver Island property? Call me! Look forward to working with you.

October 2015, Market Analysis

October 2015

October is a beautiful month on Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands. Vancouver Island (which I always think of as the largest of the Gulf Islands) shares this Pacific Northwest Coast autumn beauty.>

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

The Canadian Thanksgiving celebration takes place in mid-October, and always sets the Harvest theme.

On Salt Spring, the Saturday Market continues until month’s end, and the Tuesday Farmer’s Market showcases the harvest produce. Apple Fest is the first October annual event, and then Sip and Savour (held this year on Thanksgiving Weekend…restaurants are offering special wine pairing dinners plus harvest themed opportunities…local fare always in the forefront… Wine tastings at the 3 local vineyards, cidery & brewery offerings available, plus farmgate stands are open throughout the Island).

The October weather varies from late summer to “real Fall”…the days are shorter…crisp evenings mean stargazing. Plus, evening classes, clubs and hobby groups, choral entertainments, ArtSpring’s theatre, dance, music, speakers program…all things that are not to be missed…and the Arts Council’s amazing SNAAP puts Salt Spring on the artistic map, Canada-wide, this October.

Salt Spring is truly an authentic year-round destination. October is that “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” that the poet Keats wrote about, centuries ago. Much to enjoy!

Real estate remains active in the Fall season. Often, people look at properties in Spring/Summer and then decide to “act” in the Fall/early Winter. Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island communities are, in the main, secondary home/discretionary markets. Decisions to buy are “by choice” decisions.

The post-Internet era has delivered huge choice to buyers in this coastal region. Why here? What about there? Choice creates time lags in the decision process, regardless of market trend in play.

The recovery is seriously underway in our “by choice” coastal areas…thinning inventory, renewed interest in undeveloped land opportunities, a renewed interest in upper-tier priced residential options…these are all pointers to an authentic recovery. It is still not an even-handed recovery, and prices have not yet stabilized. What can be said, at the beginning of October: the direction is “up”.

For a detailed report of sales to date, please contact me.

The late summer through fall market delivers consistent sales. Between early October and end of year, many more sales will take place. These will create a new update report in time for projected early Spring activity. The last three months of the year are often mirrored in the first three months of the following year. October/November/December of 2015, then, presage the early opening days of 2016.

The momentum is upward. The inventory is low in any particular property segment. Prices are beginning to stabilize.

Are we on the way to sellers market conditions? Possibly by Fall, 2016. Markets are always moving, in that alluring wave pattern. We appear to be cresting up.

September 2015, Market Analysis

September 2015, Market Analysis

Salt Spring Island, 2015

Salt Spring Island, 2015

Real estate is always a sure-fire conversation starter. “What’s the market doing?” is a classic opener.

For those who have been holding secondary homes/recreational properties, during an almost eight year downturn, it’s welcome news indeed that the answer is now “Definitely improving!”.

All markets are cyclical in nature

All markets are cyclical in nature. Sellers would prefer to sell on a high, and buyers would love to buy on a low. Recognizing pivotal market trends is a tough call. It’s usual to understand things when they have already passed by…easier to enjoy that 20/20 vision of the past.

The recreational markets are particularly difficult to call. Unlike a primary residence/city marketplace, where one lives year-round, works there, sends children to school there, the secondary home/rural marketplaces are by choice areas.

Old Scott Road

Old Scott Road

No one “has to” buy a property on a Gulf Island or in a rural community on Vancouver Island. Such a decision is totally discretionary, and does require consumer confidence in economic outcomes.

The post-Internet world we all now inhabit has changed the fabric of recreational ownership. It’s probable that 100% of such purchases start with an Internet search, and possibly that start occurs a good two years before a purchase is even seriously entertained.

That internet search puts all recreational regions on the same level. The buyer is no longer specifically targeted to one area… all such regions are now in competition with each other. Choice is huge.

The difficulty with several evenly weighted choices is that the viewer of same may put off acting. A buyer wants to “be sure”, before choosing. Why this place? What about that one? How to decide? Too many choices may mean no decision is taken.

I often think that a happy visitor experience in a recreational area can lead to a real estate purchase there. Successful tourism outcomes seem to drive all secondary home economies.

So…tourist discoveries are apparently showing their best patterns since 2007. Real estate sales volume in rural/recreational regions has improved dramatically. We may be just at the beginning of a market trending upward, in such discretionary areas. This might be the brief equilibrium moment between a buyers and a sellers market.

The allure factor that encourages a discretionary property decision might be the opportunity to live, even part-time, in a kinder gentler place. To be self-sufficient. To remember our essential selves.

April 2015, Market Analysis

April 2015, Market Analysis – Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Back to The Seller Side

Yes, it’s true…the real estate market is turning back to the seller side of the sales equation in the secondary home marketplaces…good news indeed for Salt Spring Island & Gulf Islands & Vancouver Island owners.

On the Pacific Northwest Coast, which includes all Gulf Islands, including Salt Spring Island, plus Vancouver Island, plus Sunshine Coast, the secondary home/recreational/discretionary marketplaces are all definitely on the improve.


Inventory has “thinned” dramatically in the entry level priced residential segment. Slow sales in this price category, over the past 2 years, have quietly erased inventory backlog. Affordably priced undeveloped land is now beginning to sell as a result…buying land & building a cottage or choosing a manufactured home allows one to keep the budget at that entry level price point.

As inventory “thins”, prices stabilize. In some cases there are already small bidding wars.

Buyers who are able to increase their budget are starting to look at higher priced residential offerings, for more choice & potentially more motivated sellers.

For The Luxury Buyer In Salt Spring

For those able to consider a purchase in the luxury/upper tier priced property segment, there are still deals to happen, for a buyer. It may take until the Fall Market to see stability in pricings in the over one million category. Right now, this property segment is experiencing the uptick in interest & resulting lower offers that the entry level category experienced during the past two years.

I think when we arrive at late September/mid-October timeframe, we will see an even-handed recovery firmly underway.

I believe we are in the very last stages of a transition period, here, in our coastal region, between buyer & seller markets.

My definition of a buyers market: lots of listings & no buyers. And a sellers market? No inventory & lots of buyers. I think we are moving to that sellers market description.

It has been a long 7 years in all the secondary home/discretionary markets, & globally so. Some areas may even have experienced the “pause” 10 years ago. Within our overall coastal grid, places are never evenly busy.

British Columbia, An Undiscovered Coast

On this still relatively undiscovered Coast, we are always the tail of the dog. Now, however, we are seeing dramatic improvement…sales volume to date, for Salt Spring, has improved by close to 30% over previous year. Price stability has just begun…price increases may be on the horizon, but not just yet. This upward sales volume pattern is in evidence on the entire coastal rim.

Our discretionary area sales window runs from March Break through to Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend (mid-October). It remains a weekend business until mid-May, perhaps. Late June to late September remain the busiest sales months.

A seasonal marketplace once more on the move…plus, a lower Canadian Dollar against the U.S. currency…plus a general safe haven seeking in this turbulent global political & economic time of change…& the ability to live anywhere while working in the digital universe…it all adds to the general rhythm of uptick.

Salt Spring – The Allure of A “Caring Community”

The allure of a caring community is another attraction of the secondary home regions. An aging in place demographic, a strong community service volunteer group, a caring underpinning to the Island…this certainly describes exceptional Salt Spring Island.

Yes, it’s different than the flat conditions of the past 7 + years. However, there is always opportunity. The key? Recognizing it when it appears before you, and then acting on it.

An outcome of the global search is that it throws up a lot of surface information…& a lot of choice usually means slowness in action. The “have I seen it all yet?” syndrome. So important to listen for the “ping”. If a property lights up for you, then that’s the one to act on. It’s about listening to our inner voice.

I sometimes think searching property sites has become an entertainment feature…kind of like a 90s sitcom…look but not act. For an investment uptick, though (always better to buy on a rising market), now is the time for buyer involvement.

Continuing low interest rates are in favour of the buyer, for the time being.

Although inventory is thinning out in the affordable price segment, there are still creative ways to remain on budget.

Salt Spring Island Real Estate – An Appreciating Asset

An investment on a Gulf Island, including on Salt Spring Island, the largest & best serviced of this “southern” grouping, remains a good investment. Over time, a property purchase on Salt Spring Island & the Gulf Islands will build in value.

The Islands Trust put a cap on growth back in 1974…through strict zoning/density bylaws controls. Supply & demand is a factor in a Gulf Islands market, due to the Trust’s non-growth policies.

Enjoyment of a property is also a valid marker of value for a discretionary region. That enjoyment may include the ability to be self-sustaining. The benign micro-climate in our coastal environment makes this possible.

Yes, all markets are like a wave…up, down, up, down…never static. In real estate, it seems that the down never falls as low as the previous down. Thus, over time, a steady increase is consistently shown. On the rise, the fix & flippers start to reappear. Savvy ones are acting now.

Between 2000 & 2001, sales volume rose 50%. Between 2002 & 2005, prices rose 60%. A slowing trend took place between 2006 & 2007. Then the economic collapses of late 2008…now, at the beginning of April, 2015, we seem to be emerging back into 2002 times. Possibly we will look back & decide that 2010/2011 were the true flat bottom years in our discretionary area.

In change lies opportunity.

February 2015, Market Analysis

February 2015, Market Analysis – Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

The reminder from that savvy Ancient Greek, Heraclitus, that we never step in the same river water twice, is a thought to hold onto. As he noted, the only constant in life is change.

3-D printer, robotics revolution, driverless car…the word is out: humans need not apply. So, if the age of jobs is over, what next?

Is the age of travel also over? Violence is found in all places. Going out to buy bread or meet a friend for coffee can result in death by violence…a politically motivated person can take events into their own hands & too bad for you, in the corner of the cafe, minding your own business, with totally distant thoughts.

What did John Donne alert us to? Never send to ask for whom the bell tolls, for it tolls for thee? That, yes, & also the reminder that any man’s death diminishes us all.

So, as usual, the poets instruct us.

Cavafey, a recent Greek poet, reminded us that there’s no point in waiting for the barbarians to arrive…they are already here…they are us. Isn’t that the news that Pogo brought back from the swamp? I have seen the enemy & he is us?


Meantime, Voltaire suggested that we might want to just stay home & cultivate our own garden.

It’s difficult to offer specific outcomes in local real estate markets, when societal shifts of such a deep nature are in full swing. These societal shifts are shaping economic outcomes. Global rhythms shape specific regions…it’s called the global economy for a reason. No area is remote. The connectivity of the post-Internet world means the butterfly effect is in play.

A study of history, both far & immediate pasts, might be of some help when attempting an interpretive role.

When the Industrial Revolution exploded onto the centuries old agrarian lifestyle, it was a knife through an established & thus well understood pattern.

Today, technological innovation is slashing through the vestiges of the latter years of the 20th Century.

If you stand on the technology side of this shift, there is endless opportunity. If in the recent past…well…just read a George Eliot or Charles Dickens novel for some gloomier outcomes.



Big picture events colour our tiny lives. Within that frame, what does a move to Salt Spring Island, to a Gulf Island, to a Vancouver Island community offer?

Following Voltaire’s advice, a move to such rural coastal opportunities means experiencing community, means the ability to be self-sufficient, means the luxury of being slightly “apart”, without being isolated. These are safe haven venues. It is possible to be self-sustaining. More information? Call me!

Recent Salt Spring & Gulf Island sales appear to be predicting a shift from a buyers to a sellers market, in the secondary home markets. It is a slow but steady rhythm.

The tax assessments still reflect the past 7 year downturn. It may take until 2016 for the tax assessments to reflect recent sales volume uptick. Prices have not yet stabilized.

Thinning inventory will continue to highlight price stability…& possibly increases. The tail end of a transition period between market trends reflects both past & future, in the short-term.

Oceanfronts, oceanviews, acreages, building lots, residential, commercial, investment, recreational…varying types of properties, varying prices…your special property dream is out there, waiting for you.

I often find that the first two months of a new year follow the patterns of last two months of the previous year. Most sales have remained in that entry level residential segment. The spread between list & sale prices has been narrowing in this property segment…lower inventory encourages strengthening prices. Some recent sales in undeveloped land may also predict an uptick in a market. Sales growth in the upper tier priced residential market appears to be underway…price reductions at point of these sales remain dramatic.

The sudden collapse in commodities markets may have serious outcomes for the secondary home marketplaces. An Alberta buyer has been a traditional coastal purchaser.

It takes until mid-March to see the first aspects of a new year market take shape. March Break is the traditional beginning to the “season” on Salt Spring & the Gulf Islands.

I usually write my market thoughts at the beginning of a month. Between early January’s “report” & now, we saw events in France plus a continuing crash in the commodities markets…societal & economic shifts together can deliver a “pause” to a discretionary marketplace.

It’s important to act prudently. Should one make a lifestyle move to a softer/gentler place, & live more simply, & slightly “apart”? Hmmm…. Decisions, decisions. In change lies opportunity.

How may I help you to buy your special property on Salt Spring Island or on another Gulf Island or on Vancouver Island? Please contact me…your best interests are always my motivation.

Looking for information about specific areas? Information about properties and opportunities? Call me! Benefit from my knowledge (of inventory & market trends) and from my expertise (experience counts!).

January 2015, Market Analysis

January 2014, Salt Spring Island Real Estate

Welcome to these early days of the first month of a brand new year.

Ganges Harbour, Salt Spring Island
Named after Janus, the Roman god who looked behind & ahead, at the same time, January straddles what has been & what will be, in real estate outcomes.

Many indicators are out there that are predicting a strong transition from a down to an up market, in the secondary home marketplaces, & globally so.

Salt Spring Island, the Gulf Islands, & Vancouver Island are often the tail of the dog in a market recovery. A recovery is never even-handed. Some places & some property types recover faster than others. The good news: if every story has a beginning & a middle & an end, then here, on the coastal “rim”, we are at the close of the transition “middle ground” between market trends.

The beginning of the recovery might be seen as having become visible by October 2013. It began with sales volume increase in the entry level residential category. Prices did not stabilize.

By October 2014, all property types were finding interested buyers (undeveloped land, higher end residential offerings, thinning inventory in entry level residential options, which helped to solidify prices, & even commercial sales began to occur).

No market ever stays up or down

No market ever stays up or down. Since late 2013, then, our slow coastal region’s recovery, in discretionary areas, had begun.
Ganges Harbour
I often think that secondary home sales mirror the fine art world’s sales pattern…perhaps within six months. The late Fall 2014 art action at the auction houses would seem to point towards an active secondary home sales rhythm to be in place by April/May of 2015.

Perhaps safe haven investing is the biggest motivator to sales in a discretionary/recreational marketplace, right now. If there is a concern about currencies, then a hard asset purchase might be an outcome of such a worry. It’s about preservation of capital. The plus of self-sufficiency might be an alluring factor for choosing Salt Spring & a Gulf Island as the destination. Our lower Canadian dollar against the U.S. dollar is also often an attractor to a buyer, for our area.


January is a good time to attend investment conferences…listen well. Soak in the prevailing thought. Read investment articles…catch the vibe. Being informed is always the best first step in decision making.

It’s also important to act. The buyers market conditions are dissipating in the secondary home regions. Between now & April, we may see the “deals” evaporating. It has been a long seven year downturn in “by choice” markets. Indecision meant buyer inaction. That is over. Short-term, the upper tier priced residential opportunities may still see some price spreads between list & sale. The entry level market has seen price solidity develop.

If you have long dreamed of owning & enjoying a Salt Spring & Gulf Islands property, now is your moment to buy. The market is shifting upwards…which results in less inventory & higher prices. That’s the description of a sellers market.