Times Colonist, September 21, 2004
By Carla Wilson
The Point, which was willed to
UVic, has been the most expensive sale of the year
at $4.65 million.
High sales volume has pushed Greater Victoria to second place
in percentage appreciation in luxury-home sales numbers
across the country, says a new RE/MAX report.
"There's a huge confidence in the Canadian economy right
now," said Elton Ash, vice president and regional director
of RE/MAX of Western Canada.
Low interest rates, an increased value in home equity and profits
in the corporate sector in the past couple of years have
led to sales in the high-end market, Ash said from Kelowna Monday.
Executives who want to enjoy the success in their lives have
been buying up.
Baby boomers, professionals, entrepreneurs, executives,
celebrities and professional athletes are largely behind
the boom, the report said.
Ash predicts the demand for luxury homes will stay strong in
the next year to 18 months. If the provincial Liberal government
is re-elected next year, he says that will deliver more stability
to B.C., which would help keep the real estate market strong.
"Given slow stock-market recovery and poor returns on guaranteed
investment certificates, Canadians are clearly turning to
upper-end real estate as an investment in lifestyle and the future."
A huge pent-up demand exists in all residential sectors, Ash
The report found that not only have the number of sales increased
but prices have risen. Find a desirable neighbourhood and
the value can appreciate far beyond the area average.
"It defies all logic. Housing markets across the country
have faced numerous obstacles in recent years - ranging from
economic uncertainty, terrorism, and war, to major health threats
- yet they continue to exceed all our expectations," said
Michael Polzer, executive vice-president of RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic
RE/MAX's report is based on percentage increases in sales
in different areas, based on what constitutes a luxury house
in that region, Ash said.
Numbers vary from area to area. For example, an upper-end house
in Regina can be bought for $250,000, considerably below
the $700,000 mark in Greater Victoria.
The report compared multiple listing services sales from January
to August of last year with the same months this year.
White Rock/Surrey is tops in the country in terms of percentage
appreciation with a 151 per cent increase in sales of homes worth
more than $800,000. the report said. Victoria places second with
a 108 per cent increase in sales of homes over $700,000. There
have been 206 such sales this year, compared with 99 for the
same months in 2003.
After Victoria, West Vancouver posted a 96.5 per cent increase
in sales of homes worth more than $1 million. Regina followed,
then Winnipeg, Ottawa, Edmonton, Vancouver's west side,
Montreal and Toronto.
There are more than 270 listings in the high-end category in
Greater Victoria, with 155 priced at more than $1 million,
the report said.
The most expensive sale this year is The Point, built by hotelier
Michael Williams, who died in 2000 and willed his spectacular
Ten Mile Point waterfront home on 2.6 acres to UVic. The house
was sold last December for $4.65 million and the sale closed
in February, said Wayne Schrader, RE/MAX Camosun owner.
The most pricey home on the local market is listed at $6.5 million
with its own island off Thetis Island. The second most expensive
home is closer to us, situated on 5.3 acres in Ardmore in
North Saanich. That property, with a 7,000 square-foot house,
is listed for $5.8 million.
Popular upper-end neighbourhoods continue to be Oak Bay, Uplands,
North Saanich and other parts of the Saanich Peninsula. "Waterfront
properties and water view properties are most sought after, and
the ultimate symbol of success," said the Re/MAX report.
Bidding wars are less common now. The average time on the market
was just over a month last year and has increased to 112 days
this year, said Schrader, who worked on the report. That time
frame "is still pretty good for a multi-million dollar
house," he said.
Talk to real-estate agents locally and you'll hear that Victoria
has been discovered internationally and that our prices
can look pretty good.
A Victoria Real Estate Board survey covering 11,904 sales between
January 2003 and June 30 of this year found about 25 per cent
of buyers are from out of town.
Of those, more than 46 per cent were from other parts of B.C.
Of buyers within the province, 21.5 per cent were from up-Island,
19 per cent from the Lower Mainland, and the rest were from
other parts of B.C.
Buyers from other provinces represented slightly more than
30 per cent of out-of-town buyers. Albertans represented 15
per cent, with Ontario buyers at 16 per cent and Quebec at 10
the survey said. Other provinces had lower numbers of buyers.
U.S. buyers accounted for nine-per cent of out-of-town buyers
and Asian buyers for one per cent. The number of European buyers
represented less than two per cent of out-of-town buyers, the