Copyright, Li Read, 2020
October. Here we are...at the 4th quarter in a year’s activity.
It’s also the continuation of the Harvest season...with the Canadian Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend in mid-month.
Covid...whether it’s considered a second wave or just the continuation and possible mutation of the first...remains the background to our days.
Most of us find ourselves saying “these are different days” and they are.
As the days shorten, and it cools in the evenings, the restaurants that relied on creative outdoor seating arrangements are grappling with how to social distance when back inside.
Ferries, grocery stores, retail are now making wearing of masks mandatory. Be prepared.
It is flu and cold season, along with covid virus, and the social distancing when out in public, the staying home when not feeling well, and the government encouragement to keep our contact groups small, are all features of this seasonal shift to Fall.
Covid has cancelled or re-imagined to a virtual platform many Island events (Fall Fair, Sip and Savour, Apple Fest, Salty Awards, craft fairs, Christmas on Salt Spring among others). Canadians are being encouraged by the federal and provincial governments to forego large family gatherings at Thanksgiving. All meetings and AGMs of various groups are also continuing to be held virtually.
Marshall McLuhan reminded us in the 1970s that “the medium is the message”. Our communication methods create us as a species. Online is a talking head process. Will this make us into a species of observers and not participants? What then of Aristotle’s dictum that we are social animals? Hmmm....deep stuff here. Needs some thought. Change is the only constant. Virtual, though, is not the same as “in person”.
So, here we are, at the very beginning of October. In real estate, in all rural/secondary home regions, inventory has thinned right out. That province-wide 10 week shut-down, that began on March 12th, created a huge desire on the part of city dwellers to get to rural/secondary home regions. The Sunshine Coast, the Gulf Islands, Vancouver Island, the Interior communities...all of them experienced a strong real estate sales uptick as soon as the government allowed phase one recovery.
At this very beginning of October, then, we see 84 residential listings on Salt Spring. This does not separate out waterfronts or farms or acreages...it is just all residential options that are still available. They range in price from $420,000 to $14,000,000. (There are approximately 48 listings between $420,000 and $998,500. There are approximately 24 listings between $1,025,000 and $1,998,500. There are 6 listings between $2,000,000 and $2,700,000. There are 2 listings at $3,128,000 and $3,200,000. There is one listing at $6,688,800, another at $12,000,000, and two at $14,000,000).
At this beginning day of October, we see 69 land listings. Again, not separating out waterfront or farms or acreages...just undeveloped land options. The available land opportunities range between $129,000 and $2,495,000. (There are approximately 60 listings between $129,000 and $995,000. There are 6 listings between $1,020,000 and $1,395,000. There are 3 listings between $2,150,000 and $2,495,000).
There have been 171 “sales to date”. In this unexpectedly busy year, we are seeing an increase in sales over 2 million (not a feature of our market between 2017 and late 2019). (There have been 121 sales between $120,000 and $998,000. There have been 43 sales between $1,017,000 and $1,900,000. There have been 6 sales between $2,050,000 and $2,600,100).
The buyers in 2020 continue to be mainly from Vancouver and the desire to redo lifestyles and move to rural areas are the drivers of activity. It is a rewriting of one’s life script.
Vancouver buyers plan to live in the location they choose as their destination area...they take time as they first interview the areas they are considering, and so they do check out other rural regions before deciding “for” Salt Spring.
There are few new listings coming onstream to replace the “solds”. Unless they “have to”, most owners of rural properties are holding...they do not want to become sellers.
Thin inventory and high buyer demand can often lead to price escalation. At moment, it seems to be about price stability.
Next year? There are many variables, including outcomes of elections this Fall, and the continuation of covid responses...the move to hard asset investments may also continue. If so, and inventory remains low, we may see serious price escalation begin. The Island Trust’s cap on growth and the continuing historically low interest rates will both be a part of this.
More information on market trends? Call me! Benefit from my knowledge, expertise, and experience. Your best interests truly are my motivation.
Meanwhile, beautiful October has arrived. Described by the English poet, John Keats, as the “season of mellow fruitfulness”, it is a segue from late summer into winter...enjoy its many Harvest pleasures.
The trails for walking/hiking beckon, sailing races have switched from Wednesday evening to Sunday afternoon, the restaurants and coffee stops continue their covid protocols and are offering seasonal delights. The Saturday and Tuesday markets are still underway. Farm gate stands await your pleasure. The Ganges galleries continue to showcase their artists. Watch the ArtSpring newsletter for upcoming events and look for the winter version of ArtCraft (social distancing in place for both, of course).
Salt Spring may have moved into a slower lane, but it remains a treasured place to visit in this softer season.
Salt Spring and the Southern Gulf Islands are always lovely, but there is a special beauty on the great Pacific Northwest Coast that belongs to the Fall season and to October in particular.