One of the things I like about our real estate market is that it’s small enough that I can be confident selling homes and acreages here in Sooke where I live, and also helping people move to other regions in the Victoria Area. I started selling real estate in Vancouver, and it is much harder to do, due to the vastly larger geographic area of the region.
One of the challenges of a career in real estate is dealing with unforeseen problems. Case in point, yesterday. I have some clients that were supposed to close and move into their first condo in Victoria yesterday. I helped get them a great price on a large two bedroom right in Cook Street Village – an awesome location. As their notary was about to register title, she was reading through the strata minutes and came upon a notice dated about 2 weeks ago (well after we’d finalized the contract and removed conditions) that the strata council had called a special general meeting for next week to consider a vote to restrict the building to those aged 55 and older. While the bylaw, if passed, wouldn’t affect my clients (they’d be “grandfathered”), it may affect their ability to sell the unit when the time comes. No one bothered to tell either the listing REALTOR® or I about the proposed change.
Naturally, they were quite upset about it, and investigated whether they had a legal right to walk away from the contract, which they didn’t want to do because this is the perfect place for them. Their legal rights are pretty slim, since the Contract doesn’t provide for this sort of a situation, and functionally, it’s the same as if the noticed was delivered the day after they moved in, which could happen at any time.
To help ease their minds, I ran a few statistics for 55+ condos vs regular condos in Victoria over the past year. I really couldn’t find a conclusive difference in the selling price; in fact, it appeared that 55+ units sold for more than this unit on a per-square-foot basis.
So I thought I’d look at it from a different angle. Surely, if you restrict a building to those aged 55 and older, you’re cutting out a good chunk of your market and it should take longer to sell, right? Wrong! I found virtually NO difference in the days on market for comparable 55+ condos and regular condos in Victoria. Average time on market is about 66 days for each in the past year.
That being said, I still think it’s a bad idea for condominiums and their strata councils to restrict places based on age unless it’s a specifically-designed retirement community (assisted living, for example). Any way you look at it, you’re cutting out a good portion of your market, and with the number of condos on the market in Victoria increasing all the time, your pool of potential buyers starts to get pretty thin.
Instead, why not deal with the issues directly? Is the problem that you’re worried about noise? Enact a noise bylaw and enforce it! Parties? Same thing – enforce a bylaw! Personally, I’d rather live in a building that has mostly older folks in it – I enjoy my peace and quiet. There are better ways to control the “problems” from younger residents than barring them completely.
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