Emerging luxury housing market on Vancouver Island puts hidden gems on the map
Amid the pandemic, a luxury market has emerged on Vancouver Island – bustling with wealthy people seeking a more temperate climate and a better way of life. Cities and even villages that had long been hidden gems are suddenly very present on the map.
Foreign buyers, especially West Coast Americans, are sweeping up waterfront properties. Like others in the industry, Victoria’s real estate agent Logan Wilson, who works for Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, suspects part of the demand is coming from those seeking refuge from extreme heat and water shortages. .
“I’ve booked weeks in advance at the moment,” says Wilson. “It’s fascinating. I can only speculate as to why these things are happening. My instinct is that it has to do with the weather, the government, the security, the water. In the western parts of the United States, you have tremendous wealth in these areas through the tech industries, and there is a tech industry here in Victoria that you can join.
“I think with the heat wave that’s going on there, the drought, that sort of thing, these areas look better to them. Many buyers are leaving California.
Vancouver Island, of course, has seen record high temperatures over the past 10 days, part of the heat wave that enveloped the west coast – although the temperature is now dropping. Wilson points out that its climate is usually relatively temperate compared to areas south of the border which experience extremes.
“You can come here to water your lawn, take a shower and do whatever you want, while [in parts of the U.S.] you have a moratorium on the use of water, ”and much higher temperatures, he said.
Mr. Wilson recently achieved a record-breaking sale for the Victoria area when he sold a lavish 67-acre waterfront estate for $ 12 million. The new owner of the 10,700 square foot home will have space for 15 cars, guests with a separate residence, a caretaker, and a boat that can be mechanically moved from the boathouse to the launch pad with the push of a button. button. They are also considering a tax bill of $ 20,000.
But considering the house cost more than $ 20 million to build, it’s a steal, says Wilson, who could not reveal the buyer.
It has also just listed another waterfront property near Parksville in Nanoose Bay, with a population of 6,000. The 9,000 square foot home at 2426 Andover is listed at $ 7.6 million, a record for the community. The bare land sold in 2016 for $ 500,000. They’ve already generated a lot of interest and it will line up screenings towards the end of July or early August. (The Canada-U.S. Border is currently closed to non-essential travel until July 21.)
Interest in such properties, he said, comes mainly from high net worth individuals in the United States and Europe.
Douglas McGowan, a Sotheby’s agent with 28 years of experience, says they are selling homes over $ 3 million eye-to-eye to overseas buyers.
“I would go further than Logan [Wilson] and say that buyers aren’t just from California, but all over the coast, from Oregon, Washington. We see a lot of Washington professionals buying on the island and all over the west coast of the United States, ”said Mr. McGowan.
“We have virtually sold two or three high-end properties to Americans on the West Coast. In one case, our agents made a Face Time tour of the property. In another case, they bought our MLS stat sheets and a whole bunch of photographs. And it was over $ 3 million, so that’s a pretty good deal of confidence in real estate on the island.
Mr. McGowan guessed that overseas buyers are looking for second homes – a butt with low crime, slower pace, and plentiful water.
At one time, buyers heading north to Victoria were generally retirees looking to get away from it all. Now, young shoppers are flocking to cities like Qualicum, Parksville and Courtenay, and the wealthy are looking for secluded and idyllic spots. (There are private fishing lodges where you have to fly to get there.) Forty-five properties over $ 3 million sold last year, which is significant for an island of nearly $ 1 million. inhabitants, said McGowan. .
“There are a lot of hidden gems on the island that are secret and quiet,” he adds.
For example, Sotheby’s has just put up for sale a property in Tofino near the village of Tahsis, an ancient paradise for fishing and harvesting oysters. It can be reached by an old logging road or a 40-minute boat ride to Nootka Sound. There is no house on the land, which has 1.5 km of sheltered waterfront on the west side of the island and full exposure to the ocean. This 186-acre recreational property is listed for $ 2.2 million and has its own 55kW generator, motorhome shelter, workshop, dormitories and a small cabin.
“You have to go to Tofino and then take a dirt track and a beaten track. It will take work to grow there, ”said McGowan.
Mr Logan says there are also large areas of bolt holes on the Gulf Islands, but these rarely change hands.
Luxury aside, the entire market “has peaked” across the island, he adds. The Vancouver Island Real Estate Board has reported price increases of 27 percent on a typical single-family home over the past year. Prices in the Capitol area of Victoria rose 17%, bringing the benchmark price for a home to $ 1,036,100 in May. And this is not just a phenomenon of the capital region. In the town of Campbell River – a three-hour drive north of Victoria – home prices have risen 30% year over year, taking the typical price to $ 614,400.
The neighboring towns of Parksville and Qualicum, once a quiet haven for retirees, are now the second costliest communities outside of Victoria, according to Richard Plwens, real estate agent for Royal LePage.
In Parksville, he and his sister Susan Forrest, a real estate agent, recently received 12 offers for a rural rancher at 976 Maple Lane Drive. It sold for $ 1.2 million – $ 200,000 more than asked. In 2012, the house sold for $ 482,500.
Over the past year, homes in the area have typically increased by $ 100,000, says Plowens. The price increases are largely due to demand exceeding supply. They typically have around 600 listings in the market, while they now only have a third, he notes.
The pandemic, he adds, has also put many small communities “on the map” for people outside the region. Now, he says, the lowest price for a waterfront property on the island is around $ 1.5 million, and that would be a redevelopment.
“We list houses, and it’s very difficult to determine the market value because there is a consumer who comes from outside the area and who proves everyone wrong,” says Plwens. “We usually say to customers, ‘He should sell between this point and this point,’ but anything can happen. Someone comes in as a white knight and puts extra money on the table, and with no strings attached. “
But he doesn’t think the momentum is sustainable.
“We deal with all age groups and the younger buyers here are feeling the pinch. Mortgage rules have tightened and they have limits on what they are allowed to spend. And we need young people to support a community, ”says Plowens.
“There are good and bad in this market for sure … but there is nothing normal about real estate.”
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