A case of simple supply and demand on the Saanich Peninsula is proving to be the cause of a rise in the local real estate market.
A rise in home prices, that is.
Jack Barker, a real estate agent with Re/Max Camosun/Peninsula says there are two distinct markets on the Peninsula — North Saanich and Sidney areas. He said there could be three markets if one takes Brentwood Bay (Central Saanich) into account, but adds it’s similar to Sidney, price-wise.
“We are seeing increasing prices in Sidney,” Barker explains. “We just don’t have the product to meet the demand.”
As a result, he said prices have increased in recent months. In Sidney, he said the average price is now $519,000, based on pending and sold units over the last six months.
In North Saanich, unit values are significantly higher, reaching an average of $891,000 in the same time period.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen such a diverse market,” Barker added, noting that Sidney is quickly becoming a niche market, due to its location, amenities and steadily rising prices.
Much of the demand in these two markets, Barker said, is from Baby Boomers — and from younger people who have made their money in the resource industry.
“The buyers we are seeing are a bit mixed,” he said. “There is a bit of a younger market here right now. We are seeing people age 20 to 26 years old who have been working in Kitimat, Alberta and Saskatchewan, coming back and buying homes.”
The larger group of buyers are still the Boomers and retirees, Barker said, looking at specific places like Sidney’s so-called Golden Zone (the area around Ocean Avenue, Henry Street and Fifth Street). That area, said Barker is close to the waterfront and the downtown core and can be reached on foot.
This demand, however, is having some serious ramifications on a very different population of retirees.
Barker said there are seniors looking to downsize their homes who are finding it hard to afford these prices. He said he’s seen some clients consider Mill Bay or Parksville as more affordable locations and still on Vancouver Island.
“I have clients who have been reconsidering their retirement plans as it’s become too expensive for them to buy here.”
Barker added there are new housing developments in the works on the Peninsula, but they are months or years away. Meanwhile, the demand keeps going up.
“After all, we are in a great place to live. I have every confidence in our marketplace in Sidney.”
He said the region still obviously attracts a lot of seniors. Diversification of services — such as increasing French Immersion programs in local schools — could go a long way to attracting more families. That’s going to be a hard sell no matter how you slice it, he said, with the West Shore already well established for younger families.
However, sales on the Peninsula have been steady this year, Barker said. He reviewed recent sales for this interview and said there have been 48 in the Sidney area so far this year, 35 of which were town homes.
In North Saanich, he said there have been 63 sales, some of which were “fairly significant.”
Barker advises people looking to buy on the Peninsula to do good research on the local neighbourhoods and take time to watch for good prices popping up on the market.
When well-priced homes appear, he said, they are snapped up almost immediately.