Real Estate on Vancouver Island
Sales activity across the Vancouver Island housing market area improved in 2013, and the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB) reports that sales momentum continues to build with a return to historical sales averages. “We are currently seeing a good supply of listings and attractive interest rates, which we anticipate will remain for the foreseeable future,” said VIREB president, Gary Gray. “This should create a healthy market balance moving into 2014.”
Over the last few years, Nanaimo’s economy has diversified from significant reliance on the forestry sector to retail and wholesale trade, manufacturing, construction, government services and knowledge-based technology companies. Enterprising entrepreneurs are taking advantage of new markets and enhancing Nanaimo’s position as a regional service sector for central Vancouver Island.
There’s a wide range of housing choices, and the mountainous terrain provides many properties with expansive views. Most of the city’s housing stock has been built in the last 30 years, and is predominantly single detached, but the mix of housing is evolving and multi-family units are becoming more prevalent.
As of October 2013, the benchmark sales price for a single-family home in Nanaimo was $325,600, (Source: VIREB, October 2013 Report), but prices vary considerably according to neighbourhood, size and style. Those choices include the family-friendly subdivisions of Jingle Pot and Chase River, and the established neighbourhoods of Departure Bay and Hammond Bay.
Nanaimo’s north end has expanded rapidly over the last dozen years, with new schools, parks and trail systems in well-planned neighbourhoods containing condominiums, townhomes, patio homes and single-family dwellings. The Old City Quarter is seeing more housing, with lofts and live/work spaces finding favour among younger telecommuters. South Nanaimo has an excellent selection of affordable single-family dwellings and rental units with good proximity to the Vancouver Island University.
Interesting developments include the 89-unit Texada at Georgia View Village, North Nanaimo’s premier high-end condominium complex. It’s a contemporary West Coast-designed project within walking distance to local shops, entertainment, beaches and parks. Pleasant Ridge Estates consists of 30 patio homes on a variety of sloping locations, most with views, and nearby lakes, parks and trails almost bring the outdoors inside. www.thetexada.com
Hawthorne is an affordable and thoughtfully-designed community, tucked away on 56 acres of green space close to downtown Nanaimo. It’s a pedestrian-friendly village of more than 200 single-family homes with serene tree-lined boulevards, spacious lots, beautifully built homes and winding pathways. The community is near many of Nanaimo’s favourite attractions, including the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre, TransCanada Trail and Buttertubs Marsh Bird Sanctuary. Phase three is now selling. www.hawthornehomes.ca
Linley Point at McGregor Creek is a unique subdivision featuring distinctive craftsman and heritage-style homes on varied street elevations that have been carefully positioned to take advantage of the inspiring views in a complementary way, Linley Point is currently in its first phase of housing development. There are 39 single-family lots, 3 duplex lots and 18 townhomes, for a total of 63 new homes available. www.linleypoint.ca
Sandstone is a new master-planned community nestled in rolling hills and along the rugged coastline just south of Nanaimo. www.sandstonenanaimo.com
Drawn by a relaxed pace and small-town ambience, excellent recreational amenities and a gentle climate, people keep on discovering the simple pleasures of living and playing on Vancouver Island’s eastern shore. This area encompasses the beachside villages of Nanoose Bay, Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Bowser and Deep Bay, as well as Coombs.
Named after a First Nations band, Nanoose Bay enjoys country atmosphere, yet is just a few kilometres to the urban amenities of Nanaimo and Parksville. The peninsula’s large protected harbour is home for several marinas as large as 400 berths, and this vacationer’s paradise tempts with an array of activities, including sailing, windsurfing, fishing, canoeing, hiking and golfing.
It’s a popular choice for retirement living in neighbourhoods like Ocean Breeze Estates (www.oceanbreezeestates.ca), a new subdivision offered by Camelot Homes, and Fairwinds (www.fairwinds.ca), a master-planned waterfront community that lets the buyer decide the setting on which to build the perfect dream home. With over 700 homes and home sites developed to date, Fairwinds is quickly becoming the destination of choice for those seeking a luxurious West Coast lifestyle. Homes are custom built and designed to fit the unique landscapes. Build your dream home and begin a lifestyle where you can hike, golf, kayak, workout and socialize with friends—all within your own neighbourhood.
Bonnington Heights is a place of peaceful scenic lots, with Garry oak and arbutus trees, and it is just a short stroll to the Fairwinds Centre and moments away from Fairwinds Golf Club. Only one fully-serviced building lot remains. The Bonnington Ridge neighbourhood is a cul-de-sac of fully-serviced, single family lots with ocean and golf course views.
Rockcliffe Park is a collection of luxury patio homes in a natural, park-like neighbourhood setting. Choose from three elegant floor plans to create your ideal home. Rockcliffe Park is perfect for those who are looking for a low maintenance yard. Fairwinds is planning to create a special residential community in the 700-acre Lakes District, and Schooner Cove Village is going to be a seaside village with a vibrant mix of community-oriented retail shops and services.
Parksville and Qualicum Beach are active communities of retirees, urban professionals and young families, and a place where “gray power” rules: Qualicum has the highest percentage of older people in Canada, while Parksville is sixth. Exceptional services and an abundance of activities attract families, too, and an increasing segment of young professionals are working from here in their virtual offices.
The area around Parksville is a kind of year-round Canadian Riviera, stretching eight kilometres from Rathtrevor Beach north past the mouth of the Englishman River and around Parksville Bay. The gentle climate, shimmering blue of the ocean and sky and broad, fine sandy beaches combine to make for a great place to play and stay. At low tide, miles of wide open sand flats reveal themselves, enticing swimmers into the warm water and providing beachcombers with hours of activity.
Amenities include the centrally located Community Park, Lions Venture Playground & Waterpark, a curling rink, a skateboard park, beach volleyball courts, tennis courts, a BMX track and picnic areas. Purchasers choose from a growing selection of living space, including townhouses, seaside condominium complexes, plus communities of single and multi-family homes.
On Resort Drive, near Rathtrevor Provincial Park, Sunrise Ridge Waterfront Resort offers fractional ownership of waterfront villas and luxury suites. At Sunrise Ridge, in-suite features include top-quality furnishings, soaker tubs, open and spacious kitchens, natural timber, stone, granite and stainless steel appliances. www.sunriseridge.ca
Oceanside Village Resort II entices with a relaxing cottage lifestyle in the heart of Parksville’s resort area next to Rathtrevor Provincial Park. The final phase of cottages is selling fast. www.oceansidevillageresort.com
Creekside at Corfield offers luxury patio homes, all with one floor living. Each home features two bedrooms plus den, two luxuriously-appointed bathrooms, a gourmet kitchen, a lovely morning room with patio and a double garage. Creekside at Corfield homes are highly energy efficient with an average Energuide Rating of 83, meaning they use about one-third less energy than most new homes today. www.creeksideatcorfield.com
Qualicum Beach is a gardener’s paradise, nourished by its mild climate, enthusiastic green thumbs and civic pride. The love for growing things runs deep, and the town has won the “Communities in Bloom” international competition to prove it. A strong desire for heritage preservation and an appreciation for sound architectural values guides development. The attention to welcoming people spaces is especially evident, and Qualicum Beach has one of the prettiest pedestrian-friendly downtowns on the Island.
Boutiques, specialty stores, antique and collectible shops join with restaurants, galleries and a museum to bring downtown alive. Arts & culture are cherished here, too, with ongoing art shows and classes in the Old School House Arts Centre. The Bard to Broadway Theatre Society presents live theatre every summer in the Parksville Community & Conference Centre.
There are many types of homes available to choose from, including single-family homes, condos, duplexes, patio homes, townhouses and vacation homes. Qualicum Beach real estate prices are a bit higher than in other Central Vancouver Island communities.
Qualicum Landing, on 15 acres of rare walk-on waterfront, just north of the village, is a $35 million development with 500 feet of private beachfront overlooking the Georgia Strait. It offers home buyers a choice of beach homes and patio homes, thoughtfully designed West Coast architecture with premium interior finishes. The development was chosen for the Grand Georgie Award for Best Residential Community of the Year in BC. www.qualicumlanding.com
In the last 30 years, the Comox Valley’s population has more than doubled, and now amounts to 63,000 when you add up the communities of Courtenay, Cumberland and Comox (Source: 2011 Census Report). With its comfortable climate, alpine-to-ocean geography, exceptional recreational opportunities, relaxed lifestyle, superb sea harbour and affordable housing, it’s no wonder.
The area has a wide range of housing options, and while sales are slower they are still being seen across all markets: luxury golf-course residences, rural acreages or beachfront properties, older houses, condos and patio homes. The mountainous terrain and abundant waterfront locations mean many properties offer spectacular views.
Detached houses still lead in sales, yet demand for patio homes and townhomes is increasing as baby boomers downsize. The benchmark price for a single-family home in the Comox Valley was $312,300 in October 2013 (Source: VIREB, October 2013 MLS® Sales Summary).
Crown Isle Resort & Golf Community This master-planned, 831-acre golf resort community has, at its center, Vancouver Island's #1 rated public golf course (SCOREGolf magazine). Crown Isle is a thoughtful blend of residential real estate lots, new and re-sale single family homes, condominiums, and low-rise patio homes. As they say, “Come for a tee time, stay for a lifetime!” www.crownisle.com
Nutmeg Homes is a Comox Valley home construction company that specializes in the use of Insulated Concrete Forms to build energy-efficient green homes. Imagine a home with irresistible radiant- heated floors, draft-free walls, large windows and wide open spaces—ICF homes have benefits you’ve never thought of: healthy, quiet homes with a modern air filtration and fresh air exchange system making them virtually dust and pollen free. Nutmeg Homes can also create a living green roof for your building. These specialized roofs are growing in demand as an eco friendly option for homes and commercial buildings. www.nutmeghomes.ca
Railside Lane - Piercy Avenue Patio Homes This new patio home development on Piercy Avenue in Courtenay features ten new homes. Each new home includes two or three bedrooms and bathrooms, including master suites on the main floor. There are three different floor plans ranging from 1,300-1,690 square feet. The homes, only a few blocks from downtown Courtenay, have attached garages and come with appliance packages. Prices for these new family townhomes start at $249,900. www.mcqueenconstruction.ca
The Ridge is a new real estate development featuring single-family homes in Courtenay. Set on a 77-acre property, the community will eventually feature 230 homes. The Ridge will be built over five phases, with the first 69 lots being built now. Phase 1 of The Ridge features single-family homes, with some lots zoned for carriage homes. Many of the lots feature panoramic ocean and mountain views, and the community includes 7.5 acres of parkland and extensive walking trails. Millard Creek also runs through the property.
Robannah Developments Ltd. is certified under the Built Green Society of Canada and integrates energy efficiency measures and healthy materials into each home. The commitment is to build in the most economically and environmentally sustainable manner possible. The company is currently developing new homes in the Coal Valley Estates in Cumberland. www.robannah.com
Woodcote Mews features delightful new side-by-side duplex homes, perfect for the first-time home buyer, empty nester or for those looking for a vacation home. The floor plan is spacious, offering 1,320 square feet on two floors with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Each unit will include a quality appliance package, consisting of a fridge, stove, dishwasher, washer and dryer. A small yard is featured at the back of every unit and there is a common outside area for all residents to enjoy. Now priced at $189,900.
Cumberland’s Coal Valley Estates has introduced 34 new lots for sale in Phase 4 of this Comox Valley community project, priced from $137,500. With the number of lots for sale in the Comox Valley currently very limited, these Cumberland lots are expected to be popular. The area offers mountain views and is known for biking and hiking trails. These new homes sites are located within walking distance of the Cumberland elementary school and are only minutes from the amenities of Courtenay.
Steam Engine Estates, in Cumberland, is a now marketing phase 8 of its residential real estate project featuring 50 new patio homes and town homes set in a tranquil area backing onto a dedicated green space. Each patio and town house unit is beautifully finished with plenty of natural lighting, designer colour schemes and landscaped yards. There are two floor plans still available: The “Wellington”, at 1,254 square feet; and The “McGinty,” at 1,418 square feet. Units are priced from $218,900. www.steamengineestates.ca
With its comfortable climate, exceptional recreational opportunities and affordable housing, it’s no wonder the Campbell River region is a favoured place to visit, relocate or start a business. Positioned at the junction of a massive water highway stretching from Puget Sound, in Washington State north, to the Queen Charlotte Islands and Alaska, Campbell River is renowned as Canada’s Salmon Fishing Capital. Bounded by water and mountains, encircled by wilderness and blessed with mild weather, great catches abound and adventure is a way of life. This is a place you can ski in the morning, golf in the afternoon and catch the evening tide for saltwater sport fishing.
Cradled between the wild mountains that are the backbone of Strathcona Provincial Park and the Strait of Georgia, Discovery Passage and the Discovery Islands, the Campbell River region is alive with restful beaches, luxuriant forests, crystal clear lakes and streams teeming with trout. The diverse alpine-to-ocean landscape and year-round moderate climate furnishes an exceptional diversity of outdoor adventures, including hiking, boating, mountain biking, skiing, swimming, diving, horseback riding and camping.
Campbell River boasts an excellent transportation system, extensive health care services, superb marina facilities and a well-developed educational system. The Campbell River & District General Hospital provides centrally located acute-care medical services. Primary education is provided by Campbell River’s School District 72, while North Island College’s local campus offers University Studies courses for transfer to degree programs, instruction in Computer Science and Business Administration, adult education courses and trade and technology courses.
A population of 36,461 in the District of Campbell River and a market population of over 65,000 make Campbell River a major regional centre. By provincial standards, Campbell River is a young community, and nearly of the population is under 45 (Source: Statistics Canada 2011 Census Profile). As the most affordable major market on the east coast of central Vancouver Island, Campbell River offers exceptional value, excellent inventory and a wide variety of housing choices. The prices of homes vary depending on size, quality and location. Waterfront is the most expensive, followed by view properties. Campbell River offers an excellent choice of homes, ranging from townhouses, condos and strata homes to single-family dwellings and waterfront mansions overlooking spectacular Discovery Passage. As of October 2013, the benchmark sales price for a single-family home in the Campbell River area was $260,000. (Source: VIREB, October 2013 MLS® Sales Summary).
Tamarack Construction has been in the business of building single-family homes since 1984, and building new homes on Vancouver Island since 1988. Tamarack's main focus is now superior family homes in the Campbell River area. www.tamarackbuilders.ca
With the most affordable real estate on Vancouver Island, Port Alberni is a bargain hunter’s delight. Single-family residences, townhouses, condominiums, hobby farms and large acreages, lakefront living, rural and semi-rural, mobile home parks, secured adult-oriented complexes—all are surprisingly affordable. As of October 2013, the benchmark price for a single-family home in the Port Alberni area was $193,600, at least one-third cheaper than most other communities on the east shore of the Island. (Source: VIREB, October 2013 MLS® Sales Summary).
For families, Port Alberni offers good schools, outstanding sports programs and recreational opportunities for kids, teens and adults. The community of 17,743 residents (Source: 2011 Census Report) boasts a modern 52-bed hospital and an excellent public transit system. It’s a place that celebrates arts and culture, and entices anglers with some of the best fishing in the province.
Just ten kilometres west of town, Sproat Lake is a residential and recreational oasis. All around the valley, acreage properties are available for those interested in hobby farming, extensive gardening or just getting away from it all.
This clean and green stretch of the rugged West Coast includes the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and its bookend communities of Tofino and Ucluelet. Established in 1970 by the federal government (and re-negotiated in 1987), the 49,962-hectare park is an oasis of surf-swept beaches, thick coastal rainforest, invigorating cultural history and astonishing marine life. Its magnificent islands, beaches and dramatic seascapes divide into three geographically distinct park units: the aptly named, 16-kilometre Long Beach (the most accessible), Broken Group Islands (about 100 islands in Barkley Sound), and the challenging 75-kilometre West Coast Trail.
Ucluelet, which means “safe harbour,” is a fishing and logging town fittingly nestled in a protected and scenic harbour. With a population of 1,637 residents (Source: District of Ucluelet, 2013), Ucluelet is known for it’s friendly atmosphere and small town courtesy.
Tofino, at the northern tip of the Esowista Peninsula, is a working harbour town surrounded by water, big trees, bald eagles and wilderness. Tofino’s docks bustle with local fishermen and act as launching points for numerous sea kayaking, whale watching, wildlife, hot springs and cultural tours. The economy of the relaxed, vacation destination of Tofino is largely dependent upon tourism and aquaculture.
The diversity extends to the area’s real estate, and both communities have a broad selection, from exclusive oceanfront sanctuaries to rustic cottages, townhouses, vintage and modern houses. Then there are treed lots, a blank canvas waiting for new owner’s ideas. Reflecting the exceptional location, higher development costs and limited availability of land, property prices in Ucluelet and Tofino command a premium, but are still affordable by world-class recreational standards.