Two sleeper markets to wake recreational investors in B.C.

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

An emerging ski hill close to Vancouver and Sunshine Coast oceanview subdivisions may represent low-cost, big-gain potential

Western Investor

BC’s new NDP government has pledged to cut fares on the Lower Mainland-Sunshine Coast BC Ferries routes, dropping all fares by 15 per cent and bringing back free passenger service for seniors three days a week.

“It will make a difference,” said Teresa Sladey of Royal LePage Sussex in Madeira Park, noting that the majority of buyers of recreational property in the Pender Harbour area of the Coast are from the Metro Vancouver region.

The reduced ferry fares are expected to help awaken one of the sleeper recreational real estate markets of British Columbia, though recent price hikes may have already alerted some investors.

Housing prices on the Sunshine Coast increased 20.8 per cent in July from a year earlier, compared with a 1.9 per cent annual increase in Metro Vancouver. Yet the typical detached house on the Coast sells for around $564,000, less than a third of the price in the Metro mainland.

The house price gap between the ferry dock on the Sunshine Coast and the one in West Vancouver is now $3.1 million, making the 35-minute ride worth about $90,000 a minute.

While waterfront prices in Gibsons and Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast easily top $1 million, a 40-minute drive to Pender Harbour opens visitors to less expensive recreational property.

Pender Harbour Landing, an on-going oceanfront development, has fully serviced half-acre ocean view building lots from $150,000 and one-acre parcels for less than $200,000.

“Sixteen of the 39 lots have sold,” said Sladey, noting that a prime 2.5-acre waterfront lot is still available at $1.7 million.

The current BC Ferries fare between Horseshoe Bay, West Vancouver, and Langdale is $54 for standard-size vehicles and $16.50 for adult passengers.

After the 15 per cent reduction, expected this fall, the vehicle fare would drop to $45.90 and the adult passenger fare to about $14, according to B.C. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena.

Baldy Mountain

Baldy Mountain Resort in the South Okanagan, close to the U.S. border and Osoyoos Lake, and less than three hours from Vancouver, was bought out of receivership by a group of B.C. investors for $3.4 million two years ago. The new owners are now getting their real estate packages to the market in preparation for the 2017-18 ski season.

And, based on comprable B.C. ski resort prices, Baldy may represent a bargain for recreational real estate buyers.

So far, nine fully serviced lots are offered, all with the option of having a Linwood Home ski cabin built on them.

Three lots have already sold and there were conditional offers on two others as of August.

The remaining lots, at around 5,200 square feet, are priced from $80,000 to $110,000. The ski-in, ski-out lots are ready to build on, or investors can hold them for future construction.

Linwood normally provides design work and building packages to lock-up stage.

Client cans then either hire a contractor to complete the finishing or do it themselves, explained Mount Baldy spokesman Scott MacKenzie.

The Linwood cabins are from 800 square feet to 1,800 square feet and prices range from $61,500 to $130,000, so an investor could buy a lot and ski cabin for around $150,000 to $250,000.

Baldy Mountain Resort reopened last season and had 100 per cent occupancy for the few rentals at the resort. The resort does not have an official rental pool, but a local owner will act as a rental property manager, according to MacKenzie.

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