COMOX, B.C. While British Columbia fishermen were concernedabout reduced salmon stocks returning a few years ago, realtor DaveProcter noticed a trend of his own. People from the Prairie provinces, who had been the predominantbuyers of resort properties in the Comox Valley, started going todepressed United States real estate markets instead. We re still getting the retirees, Procter, who heads up DaveProcter Realty with Re/Max in Comox, said in an interview. But a lot of the resort people are transient. |
If I depended on myincome coming in from that market now, I d go broke. He said Victoria remains a destination point for Western Canadianretirees, but the Comox area saw the number of resort buyers fromAlberta begin to deteriorate in 2008. We re still getting buyers from Edmonton, Calgary, Regina,Saskatoon and Winnipeg who are late baby bombers and are retiring,but they re coming for a different reason, they re coming to livehere full time. What we re not getting are the resort buyers, who would come inhere for a recreational purpose. The resort buyers evaporated whenthe U.S.
market caved, and when the opportunities started downthere. The result is that Comox Valley waterfront properties have dippedin price for the first time in the 32 years Procter has been inbusiness, presenting an opportunity. Here, in 2007, a waterfront lot would be $600,000 to $650,000plus. Now I ve got waterfront lots for $275,000.
We had sevenlots, we just sold one the other day for $275,000 including HST,and we have three others. It took from January until now tovirtually give them away. If people really knew what the land costsand servicing in B.C. is, they d realize they were getting adeal.
The U.S. housing crisis is playing havoc with resort real estatemarkets all across Western Canada. A half-dozen years ago, a building boom in resort propertiesstarted in the West, as places like Canmore in Alberta, plusFairmont and Invermere along the Rocky Mountains, as well as ComoxValley on Vancouver Island, were the playgrounds for WesternCanadians. In neighbouring Courtenay, B.C., which was the fastest-growingCanadian city in the mid-1990s, the gated Britannia developmentalongside the Crown Isle Golf Resort attracted a large Calgarymarket, plus other Prairie people. Then a mosaic of events changed the picture.
The U.S. housing crisis produced a glut of houses for sale orfacing foreclosure, and they became available at bargain basementprices. Also, the Canadian dollar soared in value, increasing itspurchasing power in the U.S. And there s been a change in weather.
I ve lived here all my life and the in last three years, theweather hasn t been what we re used to getting. We ve had somereally strong winds, Procter said. The thought process is that a lot of times somebody buying herefor resort purposes can be put off by poor weather. His observation of what s happening with resort properties fromCampbell River down to Nanaimo dovetails with what an income taxclient of mine is finding with his eight rental recreationproperties in southern Alberta and eastern B.C. He has faced highvacancy rates as Western Canadians opt to holiday in the U.S.instead, often scouting out potential property to invest in.
I can see why people go there, Procter said, having just spentsome time in Scottsdale, Ariz. A half-million dollar property at Crown Isle, you can buy itthere for half price. If you re sitting in Calgary and you want togo somewhere hot and you re a golfer, and it s a differencebetween $500,000 and $250,000, and planes fly directly there,we re losing that resort buyer. I think there are some good opportunities there, but I thinkpeople are being bought by the overall dollar.
For me, I d benervous buying down there. If you look at the tax laws some stateshave put in, we re bailing them out, and what will the futurebe? There are signs that the U.S. housing market is slowly recovering.The U.S. Case-Shiller index showed prices were up 0.09 per centseasonally adjusted in March, indicating a bottom may be forming.But getting Westerners back buying Canadian resort propertieswon t happen overnight.
The resort buyer coming back into this area, I wouldn t count onit for another three to five years, Procter said. One thing that could change it is if our dollar goes down again,or there s taxation that makes it difficult to get your money outof there. But the mindset is that people are so mesmerized by theopportunities down there. Meanwhile, Canadian resorts are scrambling. Some 29 condominiumsand penthouses at Grande Rockies Resort in Canmore are going up forauction June 23, with starting bids at $90,000, compared toprevious asking prices ranging from $185,000 to $1,367,000.
AndFairmont Creek Property Rentals is offering five nights stay forthe price of three. firstname.lastname@example.org.
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