Recreational Real Estate Hot

Buyers of recreational property are pushing up sales — especially in the entry-level price range — but the market has not recovered to pre-recession levels, says a new report by real estate giant Re/Max.

“I have never been busier,” said Sandra Smith, an agent for Macdonald Realty on Saltspring Island.

The upcoming long weekend sees her “booked solid with buyers” at a time when inventory gives buyers plenty of choice. Water view properties from $500,000 to $800,000 are especially popular.

“My personal thought is that we are not going to see a big spike in prices,” Smith said yesterday.

Buyers are arriving from such areas as the northwestern U.S., Alberta, Vancouver and the Island, Smith said.

Some are seeking an island getaway that will be a retirement home in a couple of years, while others are young families.

Smith said buyers held off last year because of the recession.

Allan Bruce of Pemberton Holmes on Saltspring is also seeing a steady stream of buyers.

“We still have a steady market but certainly the volume is down,” he said. The strongest activity is for properties below $500,000.

Across Canada, 79 per cent of recreational areas saw an increase in the number of sales for the first three months of this year, compared to the same time last year, the Re/Max report said.

“Stronger than expected economic recovery, combined with additional incentives such as rising interest rates, stricter lending criteria and a new sales tax have served to kick-start activity in recreational markets from coast to coast,” said Elton Ash, regional vice-president for Re/Max in Western Canada.

Buyers are looking to stretch their dollar as much as possible, he said. “This is especially true in Western Canada, where values have softened considerably year-over-year but are now starting to firm up.”

The starting price for a three-bedroom, winterized waterfront property on a standard lot on Saltspring Island would be $750,000 to $800,000, the report said. “Recreational property sales have more than doubled on Saltspring Island over last year.”

Five years ago, international and American buyers were more active in the market than today, it said.

On Vancouver Island’s west coast, the starting price for the same three-bedroom house is $499,000 in Ucluelet, and $875,000 in Tofino.

A two-bedroom waterfront condo starts at $245,000 in Ucluelet and $429,000 in Tofino, the report said.

Inventory is high, creating an “overabundance of listings at all price points,” which affect price, Re/Max said.

Showings have increased in the Comox Valley-Mount Washington region, where an “oversupply of inventory has placed buyers firmly in the driver’s seat,” the report said.

The starting price for a three-bedroom house was pegged at $475,000.


Article from The Victoria Times Colonist – May 21st, 2010