Copyright, Li Read, 2020
We appear to live in a ricochet world now...daily change is upon us.
In a significant storm at sea, a sailboat puts out drag items that slow, even an anchor, to keep the ship as steady as possible and as much on course as one can steer. This is when seamanship counts.
Every storm is a new experience, but the knowledge to ride it out is based on past information about what worked in previous bad storms.
A good image to hold, as we face the real 21st century...a time of huge societal change...and health pandemics are a part of this. Chaotic fear is not the antidote.
March saw governments around the world trying to interrupt ("flatten the curve") the spread of the covid-19 virus. Shutting down businesses and insisting on social distancing/staying at home were the preferred routes of such interruption.
In B.C., various federal and provincial government edicts came down...the result being insistence on self-isolation/staying at home, cancellation of events in order to prohibit crowds, a "social distancing" requirement, promises of monetary help, curtailing of non-essential travel, border closings, online banking and credit card payment only (no cash), closures of restaurants and pubs that were unable to offer take-out...cumulatively, these are just a few of what will be long-term societal shifts.
It may be that the virus will be with us until late summer...more daily lifestyle changes may occur. Certainly, many small businesses in tourism based seasonal economies may not recover.
Social distancing and a complete turn to online options could be speeding up the creation of the real 21st century. The virus will be contained, in the end, but the changes wrought meantime, by reliance on staying at home/turning to online options for business/shopping/interaction/news, will hasten this communication method. It will become the norm and face to face interaction may no longer be the chosen style.
There are always pivotal and global shifts throughout history. In the 14th century, the Black Death (bubonic plague) killed a third of the population, was misunderstood until later as to transmission, and may have speeded up the end of the medieval (feudal) society...it may have encouraged humanism and the Renaissance (the birth of individualism).
World War One was a global catastrophe and, at the end of it, its chaos unleashed the global Spanish 'Flu epidemic...which killed more people than the war. The real beginning of the 20th Century began: the end of colonialism, the creation of new countries, mini-regional wars, and the rise of competing political movements. Some feel that those changes are still being worked out today.
The internet electronic revolution in communication had a slow start. Now we are experiencing the "internet of things" (yes your smart fridge can talk to your car, and yes, Alexa listens to you even when you think she's off)...combine all this with the speed of connectivity (now 5G), and no wonder the integration of machine and human is well underway. This corona virus pandemic is encouraging the shutting down of human personalized interaction and bringing in distanced online interconnectivity (smart phone to smart phone).
Will this encourage or discourage further globalism? Hmmm.....
Meanwhile, back on Salt Spring: many events were cancelled in March, following the government guidelines to stay home whenever possible and to limit numbers at any gathering. The government required closures of businesses, unless essential services.
As a recreational and tourism based economy, the cancellation of events and closure of small businesses, at the beginning of our traditional season, directly affects the entire community. Salt Spring's many small enterprises may not all recover.
It is essential that all local groups, government and private, work together to help to sustain and then renew our visitor economy. Check with the Chamber of Commerce to see suggestions for best steps forward. Your help and ideas are needed. We are, indeed, all in this together.
Real estate in secondary home markets can sometimes be oddly busier in a time of crisis. Seeking a recreational retreat, far from crowds, and yet easy to get to, can be alluring. It is possible to spend a day on Salt Spring, coming out of Vancouver (our main buyer profile on the Southern Gulf Islands), and to view property opportunities...one can stay in one's car on a ferry, and follow a realtor to the various viewings. At the moment, it is a mixed scenario as to viewings and any potential following transactions. There have been some listing cancellations, as sellers do not want strangers in their homes. For those seeking undeveloped land, it is easier to view on one's own, with full information to guide one. It's a tremulous moment right now. The government, however, has now said that lawyers, realtors, and land registry are non-medical essential services. On Salt Spring Island, the Trust and CRD have sent strong messages not to visit the Gulf Islands at this time.
Interest rates remain extraordinarily low. If one is able to act, it is a good time to be a buyer. Inventory also remains low (since late Fall...a beginning move to a seller's market), yet there are still worthy options to consider. More information? Call me! Your best interests are my motivation. Benefit from my experience, expertise, and knowledge of inventory and trends.
At the very beginning of April, then, there are approximately 73 residential properties for sale...not separating out waterfront, views, or farms, or lots/acreages. Of these listings, 39 of them are below one million and 36 of them above.
There are approximately 79 land listings....not separating out lots, acreages, waterfronts, views.
There have been 31 "solds to date", selling between 156,000 and 1,840,000. Of these, eight sold below 500,000, nine below 700,000, six below 800,000. One sold at 865,000 and one sold at 980,000. There were six sales between 1,090,000 and 1,840,000. Many of the January/February sales were completions of transactions begun between November 2019 and January 2020.
A total of 152 listings, houses and land combined, as we enter April, is not a big inventory. In more regular times, there could be around 380 such listings on Salt Spring.
The impact of the corona virus, and its subsequent closure of businesses, staying at home government requirements, have also affected real estate outcomes in all secondary home regions. Those now sheltering in place, until the pandemic measures ease, are viewing MLS and other sites...possibly as entertainment. When things once more invite travel and property discoveries, these current "inquiries only" may lead to pent-up demand. The key? How long will the suppression measures last? Hmmm.....
An investment on a Gulf Island is worth considering. The Islands Trust, the form of governance for the Gulf Islands, created by the provincial government, and in place since 1974, basically capped growth on all the islands..."this much, and no more". Is this the description of a protected investment? Over time, this lack of growth creates higher values than in some other areas, where growth is encouraged. More information? Call me!
April is a lovely month on the Gulf Islands. It segues from early Spring at its beginning to full Spring at its end.
Yes, there have been postponements or cancellations of events and all non-essential businesses have closed in response to the provincial government's "social distancing" requirement...and potential visitors to the Gulf Islands are being discouraged by the Trust...the small populations may have a larger category of "over 60" residents, and so the risk of infection from visitors to the islands increases...and yet the wondrous eruption of Spring remains all around us.
For those who live here, even when forced to stay at home/close their business, with all those serious attendant worries, there is still much to be thankful for on Salt Spring and the Southern Gulf Islands.
Remember the words of a Canadian poet (W.H. Davies):
"A poor life this, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare."
When lucky enough to be present, be sure to look around you...be inspired by Salt Spring's amazing and restorative Spring face...enjoy small pleasures.
How may I help you with your Salt Spring Island real estate needs? Look forward to connecting with you.