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Current Market Conditions
Copyright, Li Read, 2007
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In the Gulf Islands/Salt Spring Island marketplace, the "year" actually seems to run from
July to July, and not from the calendar year of January to December.
The Spring market, then, is really a continuation of the previous Fall's dynamic.
If there's going to be a further price increase, or a potential decrease, or simply a
stable/inactive period, it will be evident in July.
To date, in 2007, there have been consistent sales in the low end residential category,
and in the fairly "high end"/luxury price point (2 million to 2.5 million range). There
have been few undeveloped land sales (seemingly, most buyers do not want to encounter a
contractor; they prefer to purchase an existing dwelling, which is immediately useable,
even if they plan to remodel or to rebuild, at a future point).
What I call the "middle band" does seem to be relatively inactive. On Salt Spring, this
would be the price point between $900,000 and $1.5 million, say. To date, this inaction,
in this market segment, is seen all over the Coast, so, again, it's not specific to Salt
Spring Island or to the Southern Gulf Islands.
The RE/MAX and the Royal Lepage companies both put out Canada-wide Recreational Property
Reports, in the Spring. Western Investor, plus other business oriented papers, and daily
newspapers (Vancouver Sun, Vancouver Province, Globe and Mail, etc.) also carry
recreational property reports, in the late Spring time of year.
In these reports, the general consensus seems to be that secondary home markets, whether
small interior towns, or Vancouver Island communities, or Sunshine Coast venues, or Gulf
Island choices will see huge uptick, as the buyer profile is willing to own two homes, and
often will pay more for the second home residence than for the primary marketplace option.
It could be that people are buying for retirement, later, and so they are looking for
something "fine", in their second home purchase.
On a Gulf Island, the protection of the Islands Trust, with their mandate of "to preserve
& protect" the park-like ambiance of the Islands, and with their severe zoning
restrictions to accomplish same, one will always find a limited inventory of available
properties for sale. This is a form of protected investment, and buyers do note this.
Although it's important for a seller to be listed, and marketed by their realtor, on a
yearly basis, it's also essential to note that the buyers tend to come in specific time
periods. This is more true than ever. There is sparse weekend activity, at March
Break/Easter, & at Victoria Day and Memorial Day Weekends, in May, but the main
activity/arrivals time, on the Gulf Islands, including on Salt Spring Island, runs between
last weekend in June, throughout all of July, all of August, all of September, and into
early October (Can. Thanksgiving Weekend), with consistent daily activity. At other times,
it's weekend business, and not every weekend.
The Islands have become a secondary home/discretionary marketplace/destination venue, and
so time lags are involved in all sales. First, the potential buyer has to discover the
area, then arrive to view, then look around at competing Coastal areas, and then decide
"for" a particular Island.
This all takes time, and is one reason why all sales seem to take between one and three
years to accomplish. The buyer usually visits at least two times, and often three, before
a decision to purchase is made. The buyers aren't "local", and so they take time between
It's definitely a process, and if sellers need a quick sale, they soon discover that this
is not a characteristic of a secondary home marketplace! The buyer is in control of the
"where" and the "when" of all sales transactions, as every purchase on a Gulf Island is
The classic signs of a seller's market are still with us -- low inventory and good buyer
demand. In secondary home markets, though, one is affected by conditions in the home areas
of the buyers, and not by "local conditions". The "plateau period" of 2006 (which was a
global phenomenon) may have marked the middle period in a market cycle. As usual, no one
has a crystal ball!
Over time, a property purchase on a Gulf Island, including on Salt Spring Island, will
prove to be a good investment. Low inventory, due to the Islands Trust's protection and
non-growth stance, ensures a stable, if not ever increasingly expensive, area.
Salt Spring Island and the Southern Gulf Islands are special places. Proximity to major
centres, yet a sense of being "apart". All amenities easily reached, yet a pristine
quality to the land. A micro-climate that offers an almost "california pattern", with more
sunshine/less rainfall than other Coastal areas. Plus, sited in the best boating waters in
A very special place, indeed!
For more information on the Islands, and how you can be enjoying same, "see Li for
RE/MAX Salt Spring
Real Estate Sales & Prices Surge in June
Entries for 2006
Entries for 2005 & Earlier
Contact Li Read at RE/MAX Salt Spring, 131 Lower Ganges
Road, Salt Spring Island, BC, V8K 2T2, Toll-Free 1-800-731-7131