September 13, 2016
Island life is calling
By Michael Bernard
While Metro Vancouver’s red-hot real estate has dominated the public’s attention this summer, Greater Victoria’s market has been quietly warming up after being left out in the cold since the recession of 2008.
Several developers have set off a building boom across southern Vancouver Island. They are anticipating not only a continuing steady migration of people relocating from elsewhere in Canada, but also that local millennials will be anxious to jump from rental digs to permanent homes.
Victoria is making up for lost time after lagging behind its Lower Mainland counterpart, says Brendon Ogmundson, economist for the BC Real Estate Association.
“The construction market and economy in Victoria are booming right now and it is increasing demand for housing,” says Ogmundson.
“We have seen the highest rate of population growth – 4.5 per cent annually – in Victoria since 2012. At first we thought it was the Baby Boomers retiring, but there are a lot of people actively seeking to work rather than to retire.”
The new Metro Vancouver tax on foreign buyers may add to the pressure as buyers look to Victoria as an alternative for investment property, he says, adding that the squeeze on supply is expected to last at least 18 months, meaning Victoria will remain a sellers’ market.
Meanwhile, for those with a yen for the Island’s good life, here is a rundown of the major projects underway, from the quiet seaside village of Sooke to the city lights and bustle of Victoria.
Ninety-one three-bedroom townhomes on 10 acres (four hectares) of oceanfront
From $430,000 for units from 1,550 to 1,700 square feet.
Sales centre: 6995 Nordin Rd., Sooke; open noon to 4 p.m. (except Wednesdays)
Occupancy: Fall 2016
Heron View Villas will appeal to those interested in resort-style living at a fraction of Metro Vancouver’s waterfront prices. Developers Silvercreek Development LP launched the fourth of 11 phases this summer with an enviable list of already-built amenities that include a marina on Sooke Harbour, a pool, gym, hot tub and owners’ lounge with unobstructed water views. The West Coast Craftsman-inspired townhomes are designed to capture the downsizer’s heart with the latest in stainless steel appliances, quartz countertops and European cabinetry in the kitchen and equally modern touches elsewhere.
Pacific Landing at Havenwood, Colwood
First phase of 33 homes on a 12-acre
(4.9 hectare) beachfront site
From $430,000 for 1,050-square-foot two-bedroom condo suite
Sales centre: 3221 Heatherbell Rd., Victoria; open noon to 5 p.m.Occupancy: March 2017
The value of beachfront property hasn’t been lost on Calgarian Rick Courone, vice president of business development for Privest Wealth Management. Not only did his Alberta-based firm invest in Pacific Landing, but he bought one of the two-bedroom units going up next to Royal Roads University just west of Victoria. “It’s spectacular,” says Courronne. “I mean, where can you buy beachfront property for under $500,000?” With his daughter in Victoria, he is also considering purchasing one of the 10 strata-titled offices that Pacific Landing is developing to accommodate a changing crowd coming to the island to work now and retire later.
Royal Bay, Colwood
28 single-family homes,
1,467 to 1,928 square feet
Prices from $519,900
Sales centre: 3549 Ryder Hesjedal Way, Colwood; by appointment only
Occupancy: Summer 2017
In the same western community but much larger, Royal Bay will eventually be home to 2,300 houses, townhomes and rental apartments in a master-planned community on 400 acres (162 hectares) of waterfront. The developer’s design ensures there will be a park just a five-minute walk from every home. The first phase is built with families in mind: a new high school opened in Colwood in September 2015, and an elementary school is planned. About 100 acres (40 hectares) is dedicated to green space, complete with bicycle paths and pedestrian walkways.
Black and White,
1033 Cook St., Victoria
75 condominium homes in a six-storey residential and commercial building
From $279,900 for a junior one-bedroom to penthouses, from 504 to 1,518 square feet
Sales centre: 1010 Fort St., Victoria; open noon to 5 p.m., Wednesday to Saturday
Occupancy: Fall 2018
For those more interested in the city lights than the call of the wild, Abstract Developments has created a cut-above urban life with real wood floors rather than laminate, flat panel cabinetry and quartz kitchen countertops, under-mounted sinks and premium European appliances. The amenities are unique: an on-call chef and sommelier, a right-sizing consultant for those downsizing and even Victoria’s only electric BMW and electric bikes for owner use in the garage. Even the parkade has a unique touch: It will have murals and other artwork, well suited to dwellers in a culture-rich city.