South Coast Homes $600,000 Less Than In Metro Vancouver
The average house price in Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast or Nanaimo on Vancouver Island is now about $600,000 less than in Metro Vancouver and $50,000 less than the Canadian average of $416,000.
It appears that buyers, mostly retired persons or those seeking a more laid-back environment, are getting wise to what Sechelt realtor John Thompson calls “a crazy reality.”
Thompson ticks off the “screaming deals” that he said dominate the 90 Sunshine Coast properties he has listed for sale. These include three-bedroom newly renovated house just steps from the ocean at Roberts Creek for less than $400,000; and waterfront cottages from $499,000, “offers considered”.
In West Vancouver, nine kilometers away by ferry, the average detached house price in November was $1.9 million, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.
When a waterfront house near Pender Harbour, once valued at $1.4 million, went to foreclosure this summer, Thompson bought it himself. “At $736,000 I couldn’t resist,” said the veteran realtor with Re/Max Oceanview Realty.
According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation regional analyst Carol Frketichthe spiraling prices seen in Metro Vancouver have not been matched in smaller coastal markets, and she suggested more Lower Mainland residents may decide to cash out and move to lower-cost areas.
This year, the average price of a detached house sold through the MLS of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver increased 8% from a year earlier, to $997,800, while prices increased around 4% in the rest of the province. In the past five years, a typical house owner on Vancouver’s West Side has seen prices rise 48.3%, to $2.3 million; while they fell 5.3 % lower on the Sunshine Coast to $353,700.
The same price gap is seen on Vancouver Island, confirms Steve Pakozdy with Royal LePage Nanaimo.
Pakozdy, who, like Thompson, said sales have been picking in the second half of this year, is seeing more retiree-aged buyers moving over from the Lower Mainland.
In one recent scenario, two friends are selling an older house – “bulldozer bait” – in Richmond for $788,000 and a $2 million “teardown” on Vancouver’s West Side and retiring together in Nanaimo. Pakozdy said the pair has apparently settled on a brand new three-bedroom, two-level detached house in a south Nanaimo subdivision. “Prices are from $309,000 to $319,000,” he said.
But Pakozdy said he doesn’t see any signs of a sudden, sharp increase in sales or prices, particularly in recreational property on the Gulf Islands off Nanaimo’s coast.
“Island properties are still selling at firesale prices,” he said. He points to a 2,500-square-foot house on half-an-acre of waterfront on Mudge Island, off the Nanaimo shoreline, that was listed last year at $499,000. It sold in September for $289,000.
Bigger investors are taking note of Sunshine Coast potential. This year buyers from mainland China bought the Sechelt Golf and Country Club, where a new hotel is planned, and a 43-acre island off of Pender Harbour. Vancouver developer Onni has built a new waterfront development of townhomes in Porpoise Bay, called Edgewater. Pacific Spirit Properties has built the 104-unit oceanfront Watermark condo development in downtown Sechelt.
In Nanaimo, where a China-based travel firm plans a $50 million luxury hotel, promoters have raised $15 million and purchased two fast passenger ferries, which they plan on running between Nanaimo and downtown Vancouver by next summer.