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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lost dog reunited with family three months after going missing along Juan de Fuca trail

‘The poor thing was skin and bones,’ says one of the Sooke rescuers

Victoria family donates 878 falafel wraps to support Beirut blast victims

Wrap and Roll pulls in $20,500 during weekend fundraiser

Reimagined campaign continues to make Vancouver Island wishes come true

#UnWinedOutside allows participants to support Make-A-Wish Foundation, local businesses

Battle of Fairy Creek: blockade launched to save Vancouver Island old-growth

‘Forest Defenders’ occupy road to prevent logging company from reaching Port Renfrew-area watershed

Police investigating string of break-ins at closed Saanich care home

Electronics, tools reported stolen from Mount Tolmie Hospital

B.C. records 30-50 new COVID-19 cases a day over weekend, no new deaths

Many of those testing positive were identified by contact tracing for being linked to other confirmed infections

Five B.C. First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

Rent-relief program becomes new front in fight between Liberals, opposition

Opposition trying to draw parallels between decision to have Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. run program and the WE controversy

Nanaimo woman will buy ‘supersonic’ hair dryer after $500,000 lotto win

Debra Allen won $500,000 in July 28 Lotto Max draw

Ottawa sets minimum unemployment rate at 13.1% for EI calculation

Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July

Cougar euthanized after attacking little dog in Qualicum area

Owner freed pet by whacking big cat, but dog didn’t survive the attack

$45K in donations received after couple’s sudden death in Tulameen

Sarah MacDermid, 31, and Casey Bussiere, 37, died August long weekend

Famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer brings movements of joy to Long Beach

Internet-famous dancer is exploring Vancouver Island, visiting the B.C. Legislature and more

Most Read