Vacation property market ticks up…But people are being more careful about what and when they buy. Industry observers are not expecting a return to the pre-2008 boom years.
Recently listed: A taste of what has been on the market recently in several key vacation property markets in B.C.
At one time, people needed to feel connected to a resort to want to buy into it. Memories of summers past worked some strong voodoo. However, by the time of the 2008 recession, that had changed.
“People were going to places they’d never been and just saying, ‘Well, everything goes up, I’ll go there for a weekend and if it’s nice I’ll buy one,’ ” said Scott Brown, senior vice-president of Colliers residential division.
But with the economic collapse of 2008, secondary residences were one of the first sacrifices people began to make.
In B.C., vacation resort property markets are just now beginning to recover. Kelowna, Whistler and towns along the Sunshine Coast all saw their markets fall by as much as 25 per cent.
“What we’re starting to see is a rebound in consumer confidence, and also an aging population,” Brown said.
“We don’t believe the industry will be back at the peaks that it was, because a lot of that was inflated by investing. But we do believe the end-use demand is starting to emerge again.”
However, there are differences.
“People are really valuing the use, and if they can’t justify the use by how much time they’re going to spend living in that home a year, they would rather just take their budget and stay in the nicest rental they can,” he said. “Before, everybody was always buying things. Now we’re back to, ‘If you’re here enough it makes sense to own.’ ” One sign of recovery is construction of new projects, including Onni’s Edgewater at Porpoise Bay, a beachside development of 116 town homes in Sechelt.
“We’re not saying it’s going to be superbullish, but there are developers now in B.C. starting to forge ahead with new projects and planning new releases next summer,” Brown said, citing a proposed hotel development in Gibsons as an example. “And that’s a really encouraging sign.”
This past September has been the busiest month of the year for his Gibsons-based office, the Robinson’s Group’s Cody Robinson said.
“We had a slow spring. But things have turned a corner. People from Vancouver are coming over to look at our properties. In our office right now, of the people who are buying. We’re seeing a 50-50 buyer pool of local and off-coast buyers.”
He’s been working with Onni Group on selling its Edgewater town homes and also the Watermark, an oceanside development in Sechelt of 104 residential suites.
2008 was the high point for real estate in the area, Robinson says. Since then, “We’ve probably dipped 15 to 20 per cent in the vacation market,” he said. Total average sales price dropped roughly seven per cent.
“We’ve seen some prices improving in the vacation rental market in the past number of months,” he said. “But there are still a lot of great deals out there.”
The Whistler market is also seeing some improvement.
“We feel there was a bottom to the Whistler real estate markets, in 2011-2012,” Whistler Real Estate Co.’s Elizabeth Chaplin said.
But the amount of property sold so far this year is encouraging, she says. “Properties are selling when the consumer sees a property with good location, price and quality.
Whistler, she says, has had to “reinvent itself for a changing demographic.”
Baby Boomers are going south, not north for skiing, she says, and the next generations are shrinking. Plus, Whistler is no longer just a ski playground – there are summer activities like the Iron Man competition as well. The town has also become an arts and culture centre, with music festivals, the Whistler Film Festival and the under-construction Audain Art Museum, as well.
Read more from Vancouver Sun’s November 6, 2013 article here.