Nine best deals in cottage country

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

We survey great escape-type listings to pick “screaming deals” in recreational real estate


British Columbia‘s recreational real estate market remains in the doldrums with prices in popular vacation destinations now lower than a decade ago – but some realtors see evidence of a spring turnaround.

“I have been getting more calls in the last two weeks than in the last two months,” said Diana Starbuck of Prudential Sussex in Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast, a coastal resort community just north of Vancouver.

Starbuck recently sold a Gibsons waterfront house that was listed at $1.4 million five years ago for $820,000. She believes that aging homeowners in Metro Vancouver are beginning to realize how far their dollar will go in places like the Sunshine Coast.

In the Central Okanagan, February MLS detached sales were down 17.7 per cent from the same month a year earlier according to the BC Real Estate Association (BCREA). Condominium sales plunged 24 per cent and townhouse sales were down a startling 30 per cent from February of 2012 – and that month had seen lower sales than in 2011. The average house price is $354,000, down 1.5 per cent from 2012.

In the South Okanagan, the year-to-date average house price is now $266,610, down 12.4 per cent from a year ago, with sales down by nearly a third.

On Vancouver Island, north of Victoria, MLS sales are down 14.2 per cent and prices are off 6.6 per cent from what was a dismal 2012.

In the Kootenays, some luxury condominiums are discounted 50 per cent from the peak and lakefront cottages at popular Christina Lake are selling for 30 per cent to 40 per cent lower than five years ago, said Jim Greene, vice-president of Red Mountain Resort near Trail.

Greene said even newer condos are selling for around $225 per square foot, compared with $310 per square foot to build. “There are some screaming deals this year.”

Back on the Sunshine Coast, the average detached house price, at $350,500, is 11 per cent lower than five years ago. Starbuck points to a high-end oceanview home near Gibsons that was built for $849,000 in 2009. It is listed now at $649,999. This is about $200,000 below the average detached house price in Vancouver.

On the Gulf Islands, “Waterfront prices are back to 2003,” according to Rich Osborne of LandQuest Realty Ltd.

Cameron Muir, chief economist for the BCREA, said tougher mortgage regulations that require a minimum 20 per cent down payment on secondary homes and a downturn in the Metro Vancouver housing market are both playing a role in slower sales of recreational real estate.

Best deals

Whatever the reason for the slide, it has exposed some of the lowest prices for quality recreational property in years. Western Investor scoured through the recent listings to offer the following examples of what may be the best buys in a bottoming market.

Luxury condo at Red Mountain: A 1,600-square-foot, three-bedroom-with-den view condominium at the Slalom Creek development includes a large deck with hot tub. Originally priced at $619,000 back in 2008, it comes with $70,000 in furniture and is now listed, complete, at $378,000 through Coldwell Bankers, 1st Trail Real Estate.

Six acres in Osoyoos: Zoned for high-density development in the centre of the southern Okanagan resort town, this acreage is approved for 109 lakeview townhomes. It was first listed in July 2011 for $2.5 million. It is now $799,000 through LandQuest Realty.

Riverfront acreage in the East Kootenays: A total of 330 acres along the Columbia River, about three hours west of Calgary. Assessed at more than $1 million three years ago and sold in 2006 for $700,000, it is now offered at $599,000 through LandQuest.

Kootenay carriage estate: This refined 320-acre estate near Cranbrook in the Kootenays features a near-13,000-square-foot house with more than $1 million in furnishings and artwork, quality outbuildings and more. It cost $7.5 million to build. It goes to unreserved auction on July 10 through Grand Estate Auction Co. “The owner needs to sell, and sell now”, said Matt Cameron of LandQuest.

42-acre oceanfront peninsula: Once listed at $1 million, this 42-acre oceanfront peninsula juts off Read Island north of Powell River in the Inside Passage. It has a rough cabin and 7,000 feet of oceanfront. It is listed now for $490,000 through Ed Handja of

Pacific Rim waterfront: Lyall Point is in the Broken Islands Group off the west coast of Vancouver Island, with easy boat access to Ucluelet and Bamfield. One lot on the Point, once listed at $150,000, covers more than 11 acres with 299 feet of oceanfront. It is now at $74,000 through

An entire lakeside community for $4 million OBO: At Turtle Lake, two-and-a-half hours from Saskatoon, a whole lakeside community is for sale. “This is a unique opportunity,” said Vern McClelland of Re/Max of Lloydminster. The parcel includes 87 titled lots and two acreage parcels, and 73 of the lots are currently leased to individual tenants. The parcel was assessed at $4 million, land only, in 2012, and it is for sale by tender.

A mountain ghost town for under $1 million: The entire ghost town of Bradian has 22 buildings on 50 acres just four hours from Vancouver and close to Whistler in the Bridge River Valley. It is listed for $995,000 by John Lovelace of Sutton Seafair Realty.

from Western Investor May 2013

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