Houses, strata and rural properties are routinely selling above the listing price in the Chemainus-Crofton-Saltair region.
In a trend being seen throughout the Island real estate in this region is a hot commodity with limited supply and high demand leading to quick sales at prices that continue to rise despite what many might have perceived as a time for a slowdown amid the pandemic.
But there are many economic and governmental factors at work creating the average house prices to soar.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, everything was paralyzed,” said Debbie Simmonds of exp Realty. “The markets were paralyzed, I would say, for three months.
“All of a sudden, the markets went crazy. The net effect on the real estate market, it absolutely spiked.”
A psychological change that has occurred for many people during COVID is the ability to work from home.
“Now they went to move to places like ours that are semi-rural, lower cost of living and they can have a yard,” Simmonds noted.
Maggie Densmore of Re/Max Ocean Pointe Realty said when COVID first began the market was stable before prices surged.
“The prices were not going down,” she said. “It was not a steady rise. This has definitely been buyer-driven.”
You practically need an economics degree to understand all the elements at play in this market. Suffice it to say bidding wars are a reality when a property becomes available and it’s not about to end anytime soon.
“Acreages are going at a huge premium right now,” said Simmonds. “They used to sit for 3-5 months. Now they’re in very, very high demand.”
People are out there, she pointed out, who want to sell now, but are in a bit of a Catch-22 situation. Homes are selling so quickly some can literally not afford to wait if they don’t already have a plan in place for their next move or they could end up homeless.
Simmonds just sold a property on Shell Beach Road near Ladysmith last week for $125,000 over the asking price. A Roberts Street home in Ladysmith sold for $103,000 over asking and an ocean view half duplex on View Street in Chemainus just went for $50,000 more than the listing price.
Examples can also be seen with townhouse strata properties, including two recent sales at Station Ridge Estates in Chemainus. A unit listed at $429,900 sold for $569,900 and another listed at $399,900 went for $461,200, with a few bidders in on the action.
“It’s astounding what’s been happening there in the last year,” said Densmore.
Overall, “every listing I’ve had this year has sold within a few days,” she added. “I think you’ll find that story with everyone.”
A property on Sunset Drive in Chemainus was listed at $579,000 and had nine-way multiple offers.
“Some buyers are going in subject free even if they don’t have their financing nailed down,” Simmonds noted.
While sales can often be closed in just a few days, she prefers to give some time at least on her listings.
“I’ll hold it for a week so everyone’s got a chance to get in over the weekend if they work,” Simmonds pointed out.
Vancouver Island Real Estate Board statistics of unconditional sales for Jan. 1 through April 30, 2021 show there were 57 in Ladysmith, 22 in Chemainus, 10 in Crofton and four in Saltair.
Ladysmith had just one of those properties in the $350,000-$400,000 range and the rest above. Chemainus had one sale in the $250,000-$300,000 range with 16 of the 22 falling in the $500,000-$800,000 range; four of Crofton’s sales were between $600,000-$700,000; and the four Saltair sales surpassed $500,000.
How to price your home has become today’s biggest question for sellers.
“In this market, you’re throwing it up in the air and see where it lands,” Densmore quipped. “You can say most of the realtors are gobsmacked.
“We really became the gatekeepers trying to monitor what’s going on. You can’t set an absolute price, that’s for sure.”
With so few listings around Chemainus, Crofton and Saltair at the moment, “it’s impossible to put an educated price on it,” she added.
It’s obviously tough for first-time home buyers unless they have some additional assistance from parents or other family members. At the other end of the spectrum are the sophisticated buyers, those with cash on hand who often can make offers without conditions and are in control of the situation.
“It’s a hyperactive market that people are afraid to miss out on something,” said Densmore, who covers the region from Nanaimo to Mill Bay.
When properties come up for sale, realtors have to move quickly with their buyers who are at the ready and receive automatic emails of new listings.
“You’re exhausted and you haven’t done anything,” noted Densmore. “You can’t not be the first one to see the house and not get your people through.”
It may seem surprising to many, but it’s going to be status quo in the industry for a while, especially with so much competition from the Lower Mainland and Ontario, particularly, joining the locals looking to purchase.
“Prices are not going to drop,” said Densmore. “Once we start to get more inventory, we’ll be able to justify the prices better.”
For late May, June and July, Simmonds is expecting a lot of inventory and for the story to remain the same into October.
One project coming up at the bottom of River Road is sure to generate huge interest, with five three-bedroom units for sale around mid-June.
“We don’t have any three-bedroom strata in Chemainus,” noted Simmonds. “The market’s always demanded it, but this is the first developer to actually do it.”
For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.