Increasing demand and limited supply have pushed housing prices way up in Vancouver and Victoria

Good homes available for less than $200,000

Vancouver Island housing price hikes restrained compared to Vancouver and Victoria, Port Alberni cheapest place to buy

You’ve undoubtedly heard all about the voracious housing market in metro Vancouver, about how some homes are quickly selling for $1 million over their asking price.

And you’ve probably heard about how this buying frenzy has leaked into Greater Victoria causing its inventory to dry up and its prices to skyrocket.

But have you heard about what all this rabid house-gobbling has done to the prices in Port Alberni? No?

That’s probably because it has done nothing, zilch, nada.

According to the Vancouver Island Real Estate board, the benchmark price for a single-family home on the Pacific side of The Hump in May 2016 remains identical to what it was one year earlier — less than $200,000.

To put it another way, for the price of just one home in Vancouver, you could pick yourself up seven or eight similar homes somewhere near the Alberni canal.

Alberni, followed to a lesser degree by most of its neighbour communities north of the Malahat, has yet to feel the full effect of the recent buying frenzy, meaning some of the most affordable homes in the entire southwest corner of B.C. can be found not far from your front door.

“Well, (Alberni)’s certainly got the cheapest homes,” VIREB president-elect Janice Stromar said. “I actually grew up there and it’s a great place to raise your kids and a great place to retire.”

Although total sales on the Island outside Victoria are climbing at a faster rate — 46 per cent from May 2015 to 2016 — than they have in in either Greater Victoria or Greater Vancouver, that has yet to translate into a corresponding leap in price.

The VIREB, which tracks properties north of Victoria, reports buyers should be able to purchase a typical home for $354,500, a jump of just 9.4 per cent from May of last year. That compares with Greater Vancouver, which reported a benchmark price for detached homes that jumped 37 per cent to a shade over $1.5 million, and Greater Victoria, where the benchmark price for a home in the core region climbed 19 per cent to $706,500.

This comes at a time where Victoria reported a sales increase of 42.4 per cent and Vancouver posted record sales totals for the month of May — 35 per cent higher than its 10-year average.

People talk about Asian and other international buyers pushing the market, but Stromar said that is not necessarily true, at least north of the Malahat. A recently completed 2015 VIREB buyers’ profile showed just two per cent of its buyers came from outside Canada.

Besides, she said, while the market in the big city can influence the local market somewhat, the two do not necessarily directly correspond.

According to Stromar, the bulk of the people sparking the demand from Cowichan north are coming from the usual sources: locals looking for a change and people — largely retirees — migrating to the Island from the Mainland or Alberta.

That said, she has noticed an increase — too small to call a trend — of people escaping the Vancouver market to commute or telecommute from here, as well as a reversal of what had been an outflow of younger workers to Alberta.

In terms of raw numbers, 771 homes changed hands in the VIREB area during the month of May, while 1,289 were sold in the Greater Victoria area.

But the number of available homes remains low throughout the Island. And the laws of supply and demand dictate houses will not remain relatively cheap as long as that situation persists and individual houses continue to get multiple offers.

“The inventory has not been able to keep up with the demand,” she said. “ The demand does not seem to be lessening. I have buyers that I’m taking out every day.”

 

Benchmark price

May 2015 May 2016

Campbell River $278,400 $287,500

Comox Valley $323,800 $360,400

Duncan $297,400 $317,300

Nanaimo $351,700 $389,800

Parksville/QB $365,600 $417,900

Port Alberni $197,300 $197,300

Victoria $593,200 $706,500

— Victoria and Vancouver Island Real Estate Boards

Follow me on Twitter @JohnMcKinleyBP

Just Posted

Wind warning in effect for Greater Victoria

Strong winds could reach up to 80 km/hr along coastal areas

Heavy snowfall closes Mount Washington for the day

Road to ski resort deemed unsafe, “high avalanche danger”

Whisky society commits to charity donation in wake of whisky raids

Refund of Victoria Whiskey Festival tickets won’t impact charity beneficiaries

Victoria housing provider launches crisis prevention program to combat homelessness

Pacifica Housing aims to address challenges before tenants risk evictions

Victoria wins crucial WHL contest over Giants in Langley

Royals take over second in B.C. Division ahead of Vancouver

WATCH: Giant waves smash Ucluelet’s Amphitrite Point

Folks made their way to Ucluelet’s Amphitrite Point Lighthouse on Thursday, Jan.… Continue reading

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Saanich signals support for in-fill developments in Gorge-Tillicum

The Gorge-Tillicum neighbourhood continues to experience infill. Council’s committee-of-the-whole signaled Saanich’s support… Continue reading

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Final phase of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy trials to kick off in B.C.

Doctors hope to get psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy legalized in Canada and the U.S. by 2021

WHL winning streak ends at four in Kelowna for Victoria

Royals lose 8-4 as Rockets explode offensively

Wind warning back in effect around Vancouver Island

80 km/h winds expected Saturday, Jan. 20, on east coast of Island, 100 km/h on west coast

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

UPDATE: BC Transit’s handyDart service strike delayed

LRB application by contractor means new strike notice must be issued by union

Most Read