The Next Real Estate Boom
According to some real estate professionals, the dream of homeownership in Metro Vancouver is dead for the average family. Despite the area’s attempts to approve a large number of affordable new builds, the supply just can’t keep up with the demand. Out of all townhome starts completed in the area in 2016, only eight of them remained unsold by the end of December. For as long as inventory continues to be unable to meet demand — as it seems to be in the Vancouver area — prices will remain sky-high.
In an attempt to combat the sizzling 2016 market, the government implemented a series of new real estate rules that — while seemingly effective on cooling the market — haven’t made home buying much easier. Last summer, the first of these attempts emerged when the government released a plan to charge an additional fifteen percent tax on foreign buyers purchasing homes in the Metro Vancouver area. The intended result of this tax was to bring home prices back down to more attainable thresholds.
More recently, the City of Vancouver implemented an empty homes tax to encourage home owners to rent out their currently vacant homes, in hopes that this will help with the lack of rental units on the market at present. The new tax will charge home owners an additional one percent of the property’s assessed value if the property is left vacant for more than six months out of the year.
However, the new rules haven’t made much of a difference for the average buyer — and certainly not for buyers looking to obtain the detached home, single-family lifestyle. According to the MLS Home Price Index report, the benchmark price of a detached home in the Greater Vancouver area was at $1,474,800 for January 2017. In a shocking comparison, the benchmark price for a detached home on Vancouver Island was just $400,000 for the same month. So, why aren’t more people making the jump across the Strait of Georgia? Stats show that more and more people may now be starting to feel the magnetic pull of the island. School District 61 (Greater Victoria) saw a surge in enrolment starting in 2017, and is expecting to see a growth spike of 2000 students within the next ten years!
Those who have already made the jump know best why the Island calls out to families: it’s a home that offers a truly “free” lifestyle. World-class outdoor recreation is just a stone’s throw away, but a quick road trip will have you back to the energy of the city. It’s a lifestyle that many dream about: home from work within fifteen minutes, more time with your family (and less in traffic), and that elusive “small town feel” by many people’s reckoning.
As of late, the Island has become home to a booming tech sector that should be capable of providing ample job opportunities to sustain a surge in the population. However, newcomers should prepare for a slower pace of life. Stop and smell the roses. Wave to your neighbours. The pleasantries of everyday living on the Island may come as a shock for those who are used to bustle of Vancouver — but, it’s an easy lifestyle to get accustomed to!
At its core, Vancouver Island is a beautiful microcosm of all the best British Columbia has to offer, and as more people become weary of their hectic lives, may be the next in line for a real estate boom.