After federal job losses, new plant should help real estate market

When it comes to the economy and real estate, everything’s connected, which makes news of a fish plant opening a boon for the West Coast housing market.

The West Coast was struck hard by recent losses of federal jobs with Parks Canada and the Coast Guard, said Dave Christensen, a realtor with Coast Realty Group in Ucluelet.

“Those were tough hits, so to see some jobs actually being created is a very positive sign for the community,” he said.

“It’s very encouraging with the fish plant opening up … That’s going to create some jobs in the community, and that’s got to be a good thing for the town,” he said.

The market appears to have been snoozing with the bears. In December 2013 and January 2014, there were zero real estate sales in Tofino and four in Ucluelet, where three residential lots and one commercial lot sold.

“Two months and not one house sold in either town .. that’s quite quiet,” Christensen said.

The two towns seem to have different sales cycles, so direct statistical comparisons are tough to make, Christensen said. There are a number of transactions in the works, he said. “It’s encouraging for the spring, I’d say,” he said.

Sales activity across the Vancouver Island housing market area is in full swing this January, with reports of healthy inventory levels and unit sales across the Board.

Overall on Vancouver Island,

numbers show a fairly healthy market, according to the newest figures from the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board.

A total of 212 single-family homes sold in the VIREB coverage area on the MLS® system in January 2014. This represents a 15% increase over the 184 sales recorded in January 2013, and almost no change from last month, which reported 210 unit sales.

VIREB president, Blair Herbert, is encouraged by the healthy sales activity occurring across the market coverage area.

“The market began to show signs of vitality in the latter half of 2013, and this momentum has continued to build as we move forward into January. The numbers definitely bode well for our spring market,” Herbert said.

In January 2014, the benchmark price for a single-family home in the VIREB coverage area was $307,700, with an MLS® HPI index value of 144.6. (This represents a 44.6 per cent increase since January 2005, when the index was 100). The benchmark price is down 0.1 per cent from last month and increased 0.8 per cent from last year. The average price of a singlefamily home in the VIREB area was $318,628, which is the same as it was this time last year.

According to BCREA economist, Brendon Ogmundson, VIREB is right on-target to meet its forecasted growth for the year. “Currently, VIREB is on-track to meet its 1.5% projected sales growth for 2014. Pricing continues to remain relatively flat; however, we do anticipate a slight increase later this spring,” Ogmundson said.

The benchmark price for a single-family home in the Campbell River area was $259,700, up 5.7 per cent over last year; in the Comox Valley the benchmark price was $319,000, an increase of 2.4 per cent over last year; Duncan reports a benchmark price of $272,700, dipping 5.8 per cent from last year; Nanaimo’s benchmark price was $324,200, up 0.8 per cent from last year; Parksville/Qualicum has a benchmark price of $346,000, up 3.4 per cent last year; and Port Alberni, which includes the West Coast, is listed at $186,000 for a benchmark home, increasing 5.3 per cent from last year.

With files from VIREB.