(April 23, 2016
Real estate agent Chuck Meagher is touring six Lower Mainland residents around Greater Victoria this week, kicking the tires on condos, single-family houses and a couple of acres of bare land. They’re part of a growing wave of house-rich Vancouver property owners heading to the capital region where property is less pricey.“Two of them are ready to move now. Given the market that they have in Vancouver, they thought, ‘We are going to Victoria and find what we want and buy it first, and then we will put our house on the market,” Meagher said Thursday.The others are looking to buy properties and hold on to them for the future. “There’s a real movement out of Vancouver — and why not?” added Meagher. Imagine having bought a house in Vancouver 20 years ago for $400,000 and today it could easily be worth $2 million, he said.Greater Victoria real estate agents say they frequently field calls from Vancouver residents, seeking to cash out and relocate here.This year’s first quarter saw the average residential sale price in the capital move up 10 per cent to $543,564, compared with the same months in 2015, said a spring trends report from Re/Max on Thursday.Sales numbers jumped by 48 per cent over the same period.“Increasing prices in Vancouver have played a major role in motivating buyers to look at Victoria for comparatively affordable options,” the report said. “With limited inventory for both condo units and detached homes, Victoria is in a seller’s market.”Time on the market for condos slid to 57 from 64 days, year over year, the report said. Single-family homes dropped to 38 days from 51.Other drivers include ongoing low interest rates, workers who have relocated from Alberta where the oil and gas sector has slumped, and the low Canadian dollar in relation to the U.S. greenback, Re/Max said.First-time buyers spurred by low interest rates typically buy condos for between $300,000 and $400,000, the report said. “A number of ongoing condo projects geared toward single young buyers feature smaller units under 1,000 square feet,” Re/Max said. Four condo projects are in the pre-sale stage and several buildings are under construction.“Victoria’s condo market is expected to continue to grow steadily in the next few years,” said Re/Max. “Retirees attracted to Victoria’s climate and scenery are an important driver of demand in this market, as they look to downsize to properties that require less maintenance.”At the other end of the market, sales for detached homes in the $1-million to $5-million range has been very active in the capital region, Re/Max said.