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Home News British Columbia Cottage country bargains may finally stir buyers
Cottage country bargains may finally stir buyers | Print |  Email
Tuesday, 26 March 2013 18:44

B.C.'s recreational real estate market remains in the doldrums with prices in popular vacation destinations now lower than a decade ago - but some realtors see evidence of a spring turnaround.
"I have been getting more calls in the last two weeks than in the last two months," said Diana Starbuck of Prudential Sussex in Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast, a coastal resort community just north of Vancouver.
Starbuck recently sold a Gibsons waterfront house that was listed at $1.4 million five years ago, for $820,000. She believes that aging homeowners in Metro Vancouver are beginning to realize how far there retirement dollar will go in places like the Sunshine Coast.
In the Central Okanagan, February MLS detached sales were down 17.7 per cent from the same month a year earlier, according to the BC Real Estate Association (BCREA). Condominium sales plunged 24 per cent and townhouse sales were down a startling 30 per cent from February of 2012 - and that month had seen lower sales than in 2011. The average house price is $354,000, down 1.5 per cent from 2012 and the fourth straight year of price declines.
In the South Okanagan, the year-to-date average house price is now $266,610, down 12.4 per cent from a year ago, with sales down by nearly a third.
On Vancouver Island, north of Victoria, MLS sales are down 14.2 per cent and prices off 6.6 per cent from what was a dismal 2012.
On the Sunshine Coast, the average detached house price, at $350,500, is 11 per cent lower than five years ago and Starbuck said the luxury home prices offer the best bargain. She points to a high-end oceanview home near Gibsons that was built for $849,000 in 2009. It is listed now at $649,999. This is about $110,000 below the average detached house price in Metro Vancouver.
On the Gulf Islands, "waterfront prices are back to 2003", according to Rich Osborne of LandQuest Realty.
Cameron Muir, chief economist for the BCREA, said tougher mortgage regulations that require a minimum 20 per cent downpayment on secondary homes, and a downturn in the Metro Vancouver housing market are both playing a role in slower sales of recreational real estate.
See Western Investor's May issue for a full report on the recreational market, including tips on the best cottage bargains.



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