Great to See All Candidates Prioritize Housing - Now to the Hard Work

Over the course of the past 6 months, volunteers from across the Island have been exploring solutions to our affordable housing crisis. Members of our group have held hundreds of meetings and conversations with community leaders, current elected officials, planners, non-profit housing proponents, engineers and water experts, builders and rental suite owners, and those most impacted by the current crisis including seniors, teachers and healthcare workers, young families, farmers and business owners. Through these discussions we have identified four high priority housing solutions that, if implemented, we believe would go a long way towards easing the crisis. There are of course many other ideas that will help however we believe these four will have the most significant impact and are the most viable given Salt Spring’s unique governance. At the root of any long term solution is the need to increase the supply of long-term rental housing and affordable homeownership for Sal…
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Salt Spring Makes the Cover of the Vancouver Sun - But Not for a Good Reason

Salt Spring makes the cover of the Vancouver Sun - but not for a good reason The severity of Salt Spring's housing crisis is well known by the many hundreds who are directly affected, and by a few hundred more like me who know people who are. But as of yesterday, tens of thousands across the province won't just think about forests, beaches, and the Saturday market when they think about Salt Spring, but also about our severe housing crisis, and how a caring community like ours could have allowed it to get this bad. Vancouver Sun reporter Behdad Mahichi was on Salt Spring two weeks ago, and wandered across the table of our new group advocating for solutions to the housing problem. After chatting with some volunteers and reading some stories people have sent us, he pitched an article to his editor and was back on Salt Spring last week. The article, "Salt Spring Island's housing crisis pushing out longtime residents" graced the front page of the Tuesday, August 7 edition…
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Proposed Speculation Tax Now Excludes Salt Spring and The Gulf Islands

To help make housing in overheated markets more affordable and available, the B.C. government is targeting property speculators, while making sure that over 99% of British Columbians will not pay the speculation tax. Carole James, Minister of Finance, made the announcement while releasing details of the new tax on speculators, which was announced in the February budget. “Our government wants to make sure people who live and work here are able to find and afford a good home in their community,” said James. “For too long, this housing crisis was allowed to escalate, and it has hurt working families, renters, students, seniors and others around the province. With this new tax, we’re targeting speculation in the housing market and freeing up vacant housing to be homes for British Columbians.” The tax details released today contain a series of thresholds, exemptions and geographic refinements that serve to focus their reach on people who own multiple homes left empty in ove…
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Real Estate Report: What's The Market Like?

As a Realtor, when I meet someone on the  street, in a restaurant, in the bar, wherever, it’s a toss up whether the first question is “ How are you?” or “How about this weather” or “ What’s the market like?" The two most common points of interest are the weather and the real estate market for many. I get asked so often I feel like a YouTube video being played. So here it is. 2016 was a record year for real estate sales on Salt Spring. It started out with a boom and never quit. Predictions were that 2017 would slow down. In the 1st quarter of 2016 there were (plus or minus), 78 new listings as compared to 51 sales. In 2017 for the 1st quarter there have been 54 new listings as compared to 49 sales. This is the continuing saga. Sales are down but in a large way because of the shortage of inventory. For the 1st quarter of 2016, the average time on market for the sold properties was 178 days (DOM). In the 1st quarter of 2017 that had dropped to 101 DOM. Of the 54 new listings in…
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2016 Was a Record Year for Real Estate on Salt Spring Island

The total number of Real Estate sales in 2016 on Salt Spring Island was 364 sales - that is pretty well 1 sale each day! This is a record breaking number, the previous highest number of sales was in 2003 with 316 sales. The 17 year average is 239 sales annually. Between 2008 and 2013 inclusive the number of sales was below 200 each year. In the rest of the Province the records show similar high numbers. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a record 112,209 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in 2016, an increase of 9.5 per cent from the previous year. Total sales dollar volume was a record $77.6 billion, up 18.8 per cent from 2015. The average MLS® residential price in the province climbed 8.6 per cent to $691,144 on an annual basis in 2016. The total value of all properties sold on Salt Spring Island was over $200 million. What about the prices? The high sales volume exerted further upward p…
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Former Vancouver Residents Making Home on the Island

What would you have done if your modest Vancouver bungalow could suddenly make you a millionaire? Take the cash and run? That’s exactly what a number of Vancouver homeowners started doing at the end of 2015. Feeling as though they won the lottery, these homeowners cashed out and got out of the mind-blowing―or mindboggling, depending on how you see it―Vancouver real estate market. But where did they go? There’s a good chance that you’ve met some of them here on Salt Spring Island. Many of those who cashed out sold to foreign buyers and moved to other locations on the BC coast and the Okanagan with the goal of buying down―that is, buying homes that sell for less than what their Vancouver home sold for. Salt Spring has an attractive infrastructure for former city folks, and when they come here to buy down, that means they’re purchasing homes under $750,000. These buyers are different than buyers who have previously bought on Salt Spring; they’re not from the United States…
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Real Estate Report: What’s enough information?

It has always been my belief that you can never have too much information about a subject. On the other hand, there is a point where you have enough to make an informed move. This applies to Real Estate and is very relevant in todays fast market. Buying property is one of he biggest decisions you can make. Unless you are a billionaire, this will be a major portion of your net worth. I don’t know about you but I have in my lifetime lost pretty much everything a couple of times and I didn’t like it. I was younger and could pick myself up and start again. Now I’m not so young, What’s enough information? Of course you have to do your due diligence. You have to know where it fits in the marketplace and if it is reasonable value. If you like it and there are no obvious issues then you have to make a decision to make an offer. This is not a “ You bought it you got it, so sorry, end of story” situation. Your safety net is conditions or subjects as they are called. These are questi…
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Real Estate Report: Don't Hold Your Breath

'The Times They Are A-changin' - Bob Dylan - I still get emails from people saying they expect prices to start going down. I hope they aren’t holding their breath. As a realtor, making an announcement that demand is high, supply of listings is low and that will generally equate to higher prices is a double edged sword. Buyers have been in wait-and-see mode for a long time. That is over. The other side of the blade is sellers who overreact and overprice their property can lead to stale listings rather than the bidding wars they want. Prices seem to be rising but if you want 2 years from now prices, wait 2 years. There have been announcements about prices in Victoria being up by 15% and people ask if that is the case on Salt Spring. We still have too small a statistical number to clearly define that but the gut feeling is yes, prices are up. How much is almost impossible to answer as you would have to have a number of identical properties sell last year and this year to make t…
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Real Estate Views: In Deference to the Experts

I recently had a client that was about to put in an offer on a property and was feeling me out about what price they should put on the offer. This gets to be a very complex question depending on both the buyer and the seller. In my mind the main focus should be on facilitating a transaction. If there is no sale, neither the buyer nor the seller are happy. No one wins. The word “ wins” is very telling. It’s amazing how buyers go from a state of warm and fuzzy with visions of enjoying the property to gaming mode in the blink of an eye. When I say gaming mode, I mean they do a Jekyll and Hyde, Werewolf transformation. All of a sudden it is not about buying the property they want, it’s the competition, it’s the game, the ego. It’s the “ them or me” state of mind. The property becomes secondary. With any negotiation, there will be two starting points. The sellers price and the buyers price. The negotiations will hopefully settle out somewhere in between. This client quoted the …
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Real Estate Report: Where do the buyers come from?

It has long been a standard question, “ Are the American buyers coming back?”. Just to put it in perspective, if we go back to the heady days in 2007 when there were 234 residential sales in that year as compared to 2014’s 183 sales, only 4.2% of the buyers were from the US. In that same year 11% of the buyers were from Alberta. 81% of the buyers were from BC of which 17% were from the lower mainland and 46% were from Salt Spring Island. In 2014 and continuing into 2015, the US buyers were only 1.5% of the market and Alberta only had 4.3%. Buyers from BC were still on top with 85% of the buyers of which 20% were from the lower mainland and 45% were from Salt Spring. John Cade, Pemberton Holmes Salt Spring Island
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Real Estate Report: How’s the Market?

The daily question for a Realtor® again has to be answered with qualifications and take into consideration that when you are dealing with small sample of data one or two anomalies can through all the ratios out the window. The attached stats are for residential sales only for this period of time. What does it tell us? In general, it’s telling us the market is looking pretty good. We have had 25 sales to date in 2015 and compared to 15 and 17 respectively for the last 2 years for the same period. Of course, as any Realtor® will tell you, we can go for a period with no sales and the averages will come into line with the previous years but in this industry you have to have a positive outlook every day and try to keep the momentum going. In general it is looking pretty good so far. A word of caution though, it’s not time to start raising prices. Since a very large percentage of our buyers come from “Away”, they perceive Salt Spring to be a rural island and are surprised by th…
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Real Estate Report: Improving Trend?

The Real Estate year of 2014 finished decidedly on a higher note. For the first time since the price peaking years of 2007/8, the number of sales exceeded 200, representing a 17% increase from the last 5 year average of 183 sales per year. A total of 214 properties exchanged hands on the island in 2014 with the total volume of $111,039,622. All numbers in all sectors were moderately up. The average price of a non-waterfront SFD is now $507,159 ($249,839 in 2000 and $623,492 in 2008). In the oceanfront property sector the average sale price is $982k (the average sale price in 2008 was $1,875,333 and $554,049 in 2000). 6 non-waterfront homes sold over $1 mil but only 9 in the waterfront sector (interestingly enough, the most sales of waterfronts over $1 mil occurred in 2012, 14 in total). In 2014, there were 16 Townhomes sales, 11 homes in Brinkworthy and 22 sales of vacant land. The highest sale was a waterfront property on Bold Bluff – sold for $3.545 mil (ov…
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Real Estate Report: Market on Target

One of the things about being a Realtor is that the common greeting I receive is “ Hi John, how’s the market?”. It has been said that Canadians are obsessed with the weather and watch the weather reports like the stock market. They also seem to be obsessed with the real estate market in the same way. In fact you can take any 6 o'clock news channel weather report and exchange the temperatures and rain or snow predictions for property types and prices and it would fit seamlessly. They want to know what the temperatures were today, what are they now and what will they be tomorrow and what is the trend in the near future. Standing in front of a map of BC the Realtor reporter can point to areas with a big capital “ H” and explain that there has been a High pressure front in Campbell River and the market volume has risen by almost 46% in 2014 which will move on down the island in the next month or so. The “ L” area around Kamloops is was a cooling trend but it is a weak front an…
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