Real Estate Market Interview on CKNW 980 AM Radio - Saturday September 17th

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Hear Tom’s Radio Interview on Moneytalks Hosted by Victor Adair

  • Photograph of Tom Whitfield
  • Parksville Qualicum Beach REALTOR®
  • Published: Sep 21st, 2016 at 12:21 pm

Victor: Welcome back. Victor Adair sitting in for Michael Campbell and his section of the show is usually called the big, fat investment idea and usually it’s our guest that has the best, fat investment idea but this time it’s me who has the idea but I want to go and get some confirmation from an expert, so my absolutely brilliant big, fat investment idea was this: at least 2 or 3 times in the past couple of years that when I hosted the show, I’ve said to Ozzie Jurock, I think people should be selling in greater Vancouver, moving to the Island, moving to the Sunshine Coast, the Okanagan, whatever, you know because the arbitrage was so incredible. Ozzie agreed and saw that it was happening. I mean talk about being in the right place at the right time, if you bought a home in greater Vancouver 10, 20, 30 years ago, you hit the jackpot! While real estate prices in Vancouver were going through the roof they were rising, but not nearly as fast, in all these other places. It’s a huge change in lifestyle and so on but I’ve got Tom Whitfield on the line here. He’s a Realtor in Qualicum Beach at RE/MAX (Anchor) Realty and he’s here to tell us what’s been happening in the market mid-island and what the impact of the changes in greater Vancouver are. Tom, thanks very much for taking the time to visit with us this morning.

Tom: Hi Victor, thanks for having me on your show.

V: Now Tom, my sense is that over the past number of years a lot of the people that moved to the mid-island here were coming from the prairies and that’s changed a bit recently. Is that right?

T: Yeah that’s very true. Some years I may get 50% of my buyers coming from the prairie provinces. That’s not the case this year. The number of folks coming from the prairies is way down but what’s compensated for that is our numbers are way up from the Lower Mainland people.

V: And sales on the Island, generally, and in the mid-island in particular are up since over what they’ve been in the past couple of years and prices have been rising as well?

T: Absolutely. We’ve had a huge sales year this year. Our sales volume is up about 40% over last year for this time. Single family homes prices are up just 15% for this time, compared to last year. Compensating that, our inventory’s down about 30% for this time as compared to last year. So we’ve had a tremendous sales year.

V: Well you’ve got a much smaller market in mid-island there so it stands to reason that, I think the total population is less than 50,000 people in the sort of the what-we-call the mid-island area. So with the buyers coming over and snapping up houses your inventory would evaporate to some degree. Then, how much cheaper? Let’s do it that way. How much cheaper does a house cost over here than it does in greater Vancouver?

T: OK. Well, for instance, our average single family home, right now, is about $465K. So, you know, a waterfront , my gosh, you could get a walk-on waterfront house here for $1-2M . So what is happening is that people are escaping the traffic. I hear about traffic in the Lower Mainland all the time. So it’s a lifestyle change and hey, what a great thing if you could sell for $1.5 over there and maybe buy over here for $500 to $700K, pocket the difference, invest it. That’s the big win!

V: Yeah, so it’s really a twofold thing isn’t it and I think you’ve told me when talked before that a lot of the people that are coming here are retired people and some of the things that would maybe keep them tied to Vancouver are well, you know, the grandkids are back there or other family and friends and so on but it’s not that far to get back from the Island and I should also say back from the Sunshine Coast because I know the same sort of thing is happening there and back from the Okanagan because people are going there. But people getting out of the busyness of Vancouver. But also taking advantage of this huge rise that they’ve had in property prices, to sell there and go and buy something in a lower market and put the balance of the money in the bank.

Tom your, I should mention this here, your web address is tomwhitfield.ca and, as I mentioned, you work at RE/MAX in Qualicum Beach if people want to talk to you for more particular information but.....Tell me what is happening in the market here outside of greater Vancouver because of that tax on foreigners that’s happening in the greater Vancouver area.

T: Well I like to call it the great pregnant pause. You know, maybe it was the third week in August that something happened and of course it was the 15% foreign buyer tax and so I think what we’ve got is a number of folks kind of watching the situation over on the Lower Mainland. Do they list? Do they not? Can they sell their house over there or can’t they? So we’ve got a bit of a holding pattern going on. The stats for June, July and August were pretty much identical for us over here in terms of sales volume and number of homes sold. It’ll be interesting to see what the stats are for the month of September. I think September’s really going to tell the story. People I think  are going to continue to come here, maybe not in as large a number as what we’ve seen over the last little while. But it’s all about lifestyle. You mentioned the market here, it’s almost 100% retirement. Retirement and tourism, that’s what drives our local economy here and the lifestyle is so, so very good here. So for those lucky few that can sell there, escape, get over here, it’s a win! What keeps people in the Lower Mainland is often family, friends, that kind of thing. But let’s not forget we’re only a 2 hour ferry ride, a 25 minute plane ride  and, guess what, those guys want to come and visit you here.

V: Yeah (chuckle), so if you buy a house make sure you get a guest bedroom.

T: There you go.

V: Tom, then so what’s you’ve seen is that prices have risen here, like they have risen in greater Vancouver, but we’ve kinda got a, as you call it, a great pregnant pause here, a kind of a levelling off period here now and I know you’re optimistic about the future.

T: Absolutely. I mean, our single family home sale prices are up by 15%... that’s not a huge amount. For a number of years we were creeping along at 3-4%.and I think people are really seeing the value here and I don’t see our prices spiking here at all. Actually I don’t see them going down either.

V: Tom, I tell you what, I can hear they’re gonna start playing the music here. Thank you for taking the time to visit with us and giving us this news about the mid-island real estate market. I look forward to seeing you again over here.

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