Nanaimo Real Estate Blog
It’s funny how sometimes you can be driving in your car and suddenly notice a lemonade stand that seems to catch us a little off-guard. Maybe it is the homemade sign advertising the selection of drinks, or perhaps it is the plastic table with resin chairs complete with an umbrella that grabs our attention. I can still recall driving through town and coming across the time-honored tradition of the child’s lemonade stand. I felt compelled to stop and pulled over to the curb for a reason I could not explain. There were no children sitting in the chairs guiding customers to their stand when I parked, and it seemed that the lemonade stand had set business hours. Suddenly, two young children came bounding out of their front door excited to greet what was likely their very first customer of the day. Did I mention that it was 10am when I stopped to check out the lemonade stand?
Last week, Christie's International Real Estate released a report stating that Toronto and Victoria are now the world's "hottest" markets for real estate - both for home ownership and investors. In fact, luxury home sales in Canada increased by 44% compared to the UK which has seen a 67% decrease in luxury home sales. Canada's stable political climate and economy seems to be appealing to many buyers from other countries who are seeing unrest and major changes to the economies. Other features that appeal to foreign buyers include quality education, health care and human rights records. In April, Victoria did consider implementing a foreign non-resident buyer tax to their real estate transactions, although Victoria's city council voted the motion down at a meeting. Many real estate professionals in Victoria advise that it is NOT foreign buyers who are responsible for the increase in housing prices, but rather a shortage of available inventory. Most out of town buyers come from Vancouver or other parts of the BC mainland. A lack of homes available on the market has driven competition among buyers and resulted in multiple offers and aggressive bids (sometimes that are subject-free which I NEVER suggest to our clients). What about the Nanaimo market? Housing prices have increased from an average $380,000 in May 2015 to just over $470,000 as of April 2017. Thankfully, our real estate prices have not become as high as Victoria or Vancouver, and with low interest rates, home ownership is remaining more affordable for many. Rentals are extremely difficult to find presently, and tenants have seen skyrocketing rent prices in Nanaimo and area which means that being a home buyer or tenant it is difficult to find a place to live.
Today, many parents on Vancouver Island are lamenting another rainy day with children home from school enjoying their Pro D day. We know that this election has resulted in a lot of frayed nerves (regardless of which party you voted for), so our McCullough Team wanted to share some fun trivia about real estate. As well, our McCullough Team would like to thank everyone who was able to join us last weekend for our Client Appreciation Movie Party of Guardians of the Galaxy 2. We had a wonderful time and appreciate all of the love and support from our clients. THANK YOU! Feel free to check out the link to watch our movie party: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ss0yrhdxe452g2z/Movie%20Event%20McCullough%20Marketing-Spring%202017.mp4?dl=0
Recently, I listened to a fascinating Ted Talks segment on the radio. The discussion was about whether or not our English language is to blame for why North Americans save less money on average than other ethnicities such as the Chinese. The English language includes a past, present and future tense in how we speak. The example that the interviewer gave was the concept of rain. We commonly say “it will rain”, “it’s raining” or “it rained” depending on the timeframe of the event. Interestingly, the Chinese language refers to both present and future events in much the same way. In Chinese, one would say (loosely translated) “now it rain” (present), “tomorrow it rain (future) and “yesterday it rain” (past tense).
Did you know that Faberge eggs are the most expensive jeweled eggs in the world? In 2002, the Faberge “1913 Winter Egg” sold at auction for 9.6 million dollars! Well…many of us will celebrate the Easter festivities tomorrow, and I thought that I would provide you with a current overview of Nanaimo’s real estate market and a few interesting facts about Easter. Did you know that an average US household will spend $131 on Easter each year, totaling $14.7 billion! After Halloween, Easter is the biggest candy consuming holiday with 120 million pounds of candy purchased. For many of us, the news always seems to have some interesting (and weird) stories that come from Florida and Easter is no exception. In 2012, Florida overturned a 45 year-old law preventing the dyeing of animals so as to allow people in Florida the legal right to dye baby chicks at Easter. The dye is either injected into the incubating egg or sprayed on the hatchling (like the photo above). I must confess that when I first read about this, I honestly thought it was a joke as I had never even heard of this practice before.
Back in the early 1940’s, Las Vegas was a barren chunk of land in the Nevada desert, with little or no development. Bugsy Siegel, one of the Mafia’s most violent and infamous gangsters, dreamt of building a “mecca” hotel that would be so unique in design and decadence that it would be unrivaled. At the time, Las Vegas was not very developed and there were no hotels or buildings that would have been similar to Siegel’s vision. Bugsy was the “go to” guy for getting things taken care of for the mob, and one of its most trusted gangsters. Financially backed by Al Capone, Bugsy’s Vegas dream seemed doomed from the start. He had no background in construction, and was so filled with self-importance, that he thought that he could build the Flamingo, which was to be so much different than the existing landscape. The black and white photo above shows the Flamingo Hotel under construction. Siegel knew very little about construction and the project went over budget (estimated cost $1M but the actual cost was something over $6M). The mob bosses who had financially backed Siegel were so angered by the delays and cost overruns that they had a meeting in Cuba and discussed if they should order a hit on Siegel. He opened the Flamingo in Dec 26, 1946 unfinished. It remained open for two weeks and later shutdown to complete construction. On June 20, 1947 a mob hit-man travelled to Beverly Hills and shot Siegel as he was reading the Los Angeles Times. One of his biggest mistakes was his inability to manage a construction development project, and protect the assets. According to his records, if he had used a developer to oversee the construction of the Flamingo, the losses would not have been as staggering as they became u
Interesting trends are emerging in real estate and millenials are definitely having an impact. There is a trend towards smaller homes on smaller lots. According to one study, environmentally sensitive home construction is considered important, and 75% of potential buyers want to live in a walk-able community. There is a demand for urban settings and baby boomers are beginning to realize that urban living allows for ease of commute, and amenities are usually within a short walk or drive. It is expected that most suburbs in larger cities will become urbanized within the next 10-15 years.
Recently, I was shocked to see palatial "shopping mall-sized" homes on blueberry farms and agriculturally zoned properties in Surrey and Richmond (many still under construction). Some of these residences were in excess of 20,000 square feet! The Globe and Mail investigated mega-mansions on farm land in January and discovered the lucrative tax breaks that were being taken advantage of which had been intended to assist those who actually farmed on their property. Metro Vancouver now estimates that 50% of its agricultural land is no longer being farmed. Some of these residences were in excess of 20,000 square feet! Agricultural land in Vancouver has become more desirable for overseas investors as it is not subject to the 15% real estate foreign buyer tax. A few short years ago, it seemed that the average size of a North American house was increasing to almost supersized proportions. Aptly, these new gigantic spec homes were dubbed "McMansions" or mega-mansions and averaged 5,000 or more square feet. As we watched the US foreclosure crisis, these McMansions saw prices plummet at a rate that was simply jaw-dropping.
It seems as though people are truly fascinated by real estate. I believe that TV channels such as HGTV and others have created an “image” or stereotype of a successful realtor, and showcase marketing techniques guaranteed to sell your palatial home – like renting a Rolls-Royce to park outside a home, to outlandishly themed parties that might include a tiger. In fact, Toronto’s “The Star” newspaper reported that several high-end homes (that are not foreclosures) were being auctioned off, rather than simply being advertised on MLS. Interestingly, it was not until the end of the article that it briefly mentioned that one property was soon to have its second auction as the original deal fell through and failed to complete. Recently, the Province newspaper reported that a company was planning on having an auction sale for Vancouver properties even though they have not had success in BC previously with this style of marketing real estate.
What happens when war or famine occurs and destroys the plants and land in a country? Without seeds to rebuild the food sources for countries devastated, life cannot exist. I wanted to share with you how a seed vault in the most northern town in the world has been vital to the agricultural survival of a country like Syria. 1300 kilometers beyond the Arctic Circle in Svalbard, Norway, exists the Global Seed Vault which contains the world's largest collection of crop seeds. The purpose of the Seed Vault is to "provide insurance against both incremental and catastrophic loss of crop diversity held in traditional seed banks in the world". It is also referred to as the "Doomsday Vault" by many.