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Sooke Real Estate Market Update for February 2015

Gorgeous February Weather in Sooke

Gorgeous February Weather in Sooke

Well – it’s been a while. Between being a busy dad, REALTOR®, 2014 president of the Victoria Real Estate Board, and a few other things, I certainly have neglected this blog. I’d like to start posting regularly again, even if it’s short bits and pieces. Let’s take a quick look at how the market has been performing in the last year or two.  Read more

Sooke Real Estate Statistics – Now With 100% More HPI!

IMG_6622 (1800x1200)

Evening Street Scene in Sunriver Estates, Sooke

In November of last year, the Victoria Real Estate Board released its MLS® Housing Price Index, or HPI. This is a statistical measurement that paints a more accurate picture of housing prices, by examining sale prices each month and using a data model to scrub outliers from the data set. Simply put, it is more realistic because it goes beyond the simple mathematic measures of average and median. Keep reading to learn more. Read more

Manufactured/Mobile Home For Sale in View Royal – Affordable In-Town Living

14 – 1521 Cooper Road, View Royal

$149,900 MLS® 309861

Just a short drive or cycle to CFB Esquimalt or downtown Victoria – you just can’t beat this location. This well maintained and updated 3 bedroom 2 bathroom single-wide manufactured home with addition boasts nearly 1300 sqft of flexible, comfortable living for you and your family… Read more

Victoria BC Real Estate Buyers Profile – April 2010

Modern homes in Victoria, BC. Photo: pnwra on Flickr

It’s once again time to look at our “on the street” snapshot of Victoria-are real estate buyer activity. April’s data from our Member Market Survey has just been released by the Victoria Real Estate Board. Each month, agents who’ve completed a transaction while acting for a buyer are polled on various questions about their buyers. The goal is to get a snapshot of the situation on the street directly from agents who are actively involved serving their clients.

Highlights from this month’s data:

  • The trend of decreasing number of first-time buyers continued, with  19.23% identified as such
  • Nearly one-third of buyers were moving from one property to a similar one. Perhaps this correlates with the lower number of first-time buyers in recent months; after they sell their smaller homes to first-timers, this set of buyers is now shopping for their ‘move-up’ house.
  • This month, single females bought fewer houses than single males.
  • As usual, the fast majority of buyers (67%) moved within the greater Victoria area. The next largest group came from within Canada, but outside B.C.
  • The Western Communities were more popular with buyers than the Saanich Peninsula.

As our inventory of properties on the market increases, there continues to be more choice in the market for buyers. Not surprisingly, most agents were reporting fewer instances of multiple offers (54 vs 12 reporting more multiple offers).

Check out the full details of this month’s survey here.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Victoria BC Real Estate Buyers Profile – March 2010

Last month’s data from our Member Market Survey has just been released by the Victoria Real Estate Board. Each month, agents who’ve completed one ore more transactions while acting on behalf of a buyer are polled on various questions about their buyers. The goal is to get a snapshot of the situation on the street directly from agents who are actively involved serving their clients.

Highlights from this month’s data:

  • First-time buyers did not represent the largest segment of the buying population, with 27.85% identified as such
  • More people moved into a condo or townhouse from a single family home than vice versa (10.76% vs 8.23%).
  • Once again, single females bought more properties last month than single males. (23 vs. 16)
  • One in five buyers were classified as empty-nesters/retired.

Check out the full details of this month’s survey here.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Secondary Suites in Sooke – Input Needed!

A Basement Suite (complete with The Sopranos on TV)

The District of Sooke is currently investigating the secondary suites issue, and is looking for feedback from residents about suites. At issue is the potential for legalizing secondary suites (also known as basement suites or apartments) in more zones in the District. Currently, suites are only allowed in dwellings on lots with a certain zoning applied to them.

Despite this fact, many property owners in Sooke have created secondary suites to rent out to help with the mortgage, or generate revenue. As the District isn’t in the business of evicting tenants, they’ve for the most part let it slide. It only makes sense for them to regulate and control all suites in the district, allowing them to ensure first that they are properly constructed and safe for habitation, and to collect extra revenue to recoup the additional strain on municipal resources such as sewage, fire, and police services.

Secondary suites are essentially the main type of rental housing in Sooke. There are very few purpose-built rental apartments, and many of the privately-owned condos are subject to rental restrictions. This has become the case in many municipalities in the greater Victoria region, as financial incentive for a developer to build rental apartments has been virtually non-existant since the 70s – instead, they opt to build and sell condos.

Visit the District Of Sooke’s web site to take the survey on secondary suites, and ensure your voice is heard.

Got an opinion on secondary suites? Post a comment and start the discussion!

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Victoria BC Real Estate Buyers Profile – February 2010

The Johnson Street Bridge, Victoria. Photo credit: Sylpherware on Flickr

The latest data from our Member Market Survey has just been released by the Victoria Real Estate Board. Each month, agents who’ve completed a transaction while acting for a buyer are polled on various questions about their buyers. The goal is to get a snapshot of the situation on the street directly from agents who are actively involved serving their clients.

Highlights from this month’s data:

  • First-time buyers represent the largest segment of the buying population, with 36.5% identified as such
  • Interestingly, the number of people moving from a single family home to a condo or townhouse was nearly the same as those moving from one property to a similar one.
  • Single females bought more houses last month than single males.
  • Only one buyer came from outside of Canada last month.

Check out the full details of this month’s survey here.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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BC and Vancouver Island Recessions, Potholes, Flooding, Gas Prices, And Other Things Amiss

storm_clouds_over_swifts_creek

What the hell? I leave the Island for 10 days and it falls apart on me?

I got back on late Sunday night from a week in Mexico to attend my cousin’s wedding and generally unplug from the world for awhile. On that note, an all-inclusive resort with 40 friends and family and really expensive internet connections is a great stress reliever. Before that I spent a couple days on the mainland with (different) friends and (same) family to ring in the new year (kinda lame) and go skating at Richmond’s fabulous new Olympic Speedskating Oval (totally sweet).

flood

So, being unplugged for a week (well, that and not being geographically co-located with the weather system) caused me to miss most of the weather chaos. It would suck to live in Port Renfrew about now, what with the main highway being washed out and all. Sooke Road (aka Provincial Highway 14), for those not in the know, is a complete disaster all the way along. Sooke Potholes no longer refers to the swimming hole on the Sooke River, but I bet there are some on the road big enough to swim in. I managed to ruin a perfectly good rim and tire on my car by hitting a huge one on Tuesday evening. Mainroad Contracting is going to get a nice letter.

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Tonight, the kind folks from the Provincial Emergency Program were at the Sooke Council Chambers to offer information and applications to residents who suffered uninsured damage to their homes during 6-8 January, 2009.

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Can somebody please explain to me why gas prices have increased by $0.15 while oil prices have decreased to below $40/bbl again? Somebody is gouging, I don’t care what they say.

Last night I attended, with the other directors of the Victoria Real Estate Board, the Canadian Home Builders Association Crystal Ball event, which featured several economists and our Board President, Chris Markham, giving their outlook on the economy and the housing markets for 2009. It was a good event, but obviously a heavy topic. I can’t imagine too many home builders that are thrilled about the recent slowdown in real estate sales.

Über-pessimist economist David Hobden of Central 1 Credit Union gave a grim forecast for 2009 (and 2010 somewhat), stating that the Island and Coast region are already in recession, and will remain so. He forecasts housing value to drop by 10 per cent in 2009. Hobden appeared to want to be anywhere but in that room last night, and his body language screamed doom, gloom, and defeat – it was painful to watch.

Jock Finlayson, BC Business Council executive vice president of policy was slightly more optimistic, and a much better speaker. He delivered his not-exactly-rosy forecast with levity and looked as if he enjoyed informing the room, which he had laughing on many occasions – and his visuals were way easier to read and understand. Finlayson explained that 2009 will be a difficult year, but by mid-year, credit conditions that are slowing the business cycle should improve, along with the U.S. economy, and 2010 should be a much better year. He forecasts housing starts (new construction) to be down by 40 or 50 per cent. Finlayson did a great job of explaining where all this mess came from and how Canada is better positioned to spend its way out of this recession via deficit budgets. Another positive point came in the fact that job losses will not likely be as sharp as in previous recessions because the demographics of recent years (families having fewer children and later in life, and people nearing retirement) will keep heavy losses in check – I’m sure you realize how tight labour markets have been up until a few months ago.

Victoria Real Estate Board 2009 President Chris Markham explained that while sales are slowing, it’s hard to compare 2008 to 2007 because it was an exceptionally strong year. This was emphasized by CMHC market analyst Travis Archibald showing that 2008 sales were actually very close to the 15-year average. The same goes for housing starts. They fell by a large percentage in 2008 over 2007, but are in-line with the historical averages. CMHC will be releasing its full outlook next month.

I think that Vancouver Island, and in particular, Victoria will fare better than the rest of the province, as we have a diversified economy, and stable major employers such as government and military. As for housing, it’s opportunity time out there. Buyers have their choice of many properties, and many would-be first-time buyers from the last few years, priced out by the rapidly increasing prices, will be looking at re-entering the hunt.

So, all in all, maybe the Island isn’t falling apart exactly, and I’m glad to be back. I’m optimistic about 2009, and we’re all in this together, so you might as well be optimistic too.

It’s all you can do.

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Friday Morning Link Fest – Christmas, Etc. Edition

That’s right, folks, it’s a link fest. I don’t think I’ve ever actually done one, and I’m not sure why. I read lots of stuff online and I really should share more with you.

HMCS Rudolph: The 21st annual navy lighting contest gets underway tonight at CFB Esquimalt. Protecteur, Winnipeg and Algonquin will be part of the kick-off tonight.

Skate with Santa: Just a reminder that my office is hosting the annual Sooke Santa Skate at the SEAPARC Arena this Sunday, from 2:00-3:30. It would be great to meet some of my readers.

Go Peak to Peak: One of my favourite places, Whistler-Blackcomb is opening its brand new, record-setting Peak 2 Peak Gondola this weekend. Cruising across the valley between the two world-class mountains, visitors will sail over 3 kilometres between the towers!

Radius Victoria Rises: Like a zombie, it just keeps coming back from the dead. This time, as office space until the condo market improves.

Rental Housing Scarce: Victoria, Vernon, Kelowna, and Vancouver remain some of the tightest rental markets in Canada. The CMHC doesn’t take into account basement suites or private rentals, but nonetheless demand is there enough to drive up rents about $60 this year.

The Real Thing: One of several articles I read this morning about sales of real Christmas trees being on the increase this year. Personally, I won’t allow the fake ones in the house, but obviously that isn’t an option for some people.

Grinch Warning: The BBB warns of lots of potential Grinches out there on the Intertubes ready to steal your Christmas. Be wary of scams and use common sense! My lovely wife-to-be is not a scammer, just so you know.

8 Lives Left: After taking a spin in the washing machine, a kitten named Punkin Head Lover Bum has a perfectly reasonable fear of water.

Have fun this weekend, I can’t wait to get my tree!

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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Victoria Real Estate Board Green Task Force Tours Eco-Sense Sustainable Home

The Eco-Sense House in Victoria, BC

The Eco-Sense House in Victoria, BC

As a volunteer on the Victoria Real Estate Board‘s Green Task Force, I was fortunate enough to visit a truly one-of-a-kind project in the Highlands District near Victoria yesterday. Ann and Gord Baird are the people behind Eco-Sense. Part lifestyle, part science experiment, part eco-pioneering, this truly amazing and simply fascinating home is nearing completion atop a rocky pinnacle in the rural municipality about 20 minutes outside downtown Victoria.

What’s so special about Eco-Sense? The short answer: Everything. Ann and Gord have invested myriad time and energy to research, design, and build North America’s first code-approved, seismically engineered load-bearing insulated cob house. As if that wasn’t enough, the home features a BC Hydro grid intertie system, meaning that their electrical meter flows both ways. When their solar and wind energy array is producing more power than the home requires, it reverses the flow of electricity, selling the excess to Hydro. Furthermore, the house is also heated by the sun with a solar hot water system, which also provides the hot water for the plumbing.

Ann and Gords Living Room

Ann and Gord's Living Room

From the foundation up, every detail has been thought about and constructed in a way that is not only environmentally sound, but also economically so. The foundation was poured with high fly-ash (a by-product of Albertan coal-fired power plants) concrete, and fabric forms were used to reduce waste wood. Total cost of forms? $300.

What’s cob? Cob is a building material; a mixture of sand, clay, and straw. Ann and Gord took this one step further and introduced pumice (lightweight, porous volcanic rock) into the mix to decrease the weight of the mixture, and to increase the insulative value. The cob is structural; there is no load-bearing framing in the walls of the home. One of the parts I found most interesting is the wiring and plumbing. Channels for the wires are carved out of the walls, the wiring installed and inspected by the city, and then simply filled over with more cob or plaster. It’s simple, seamless, and it works! Not only is the cob functional, but when finished in a lime-plaster it is also beautiful.

The house features lots of natural light. Light pipes direct sunlight from the roof into a dome-light-like fixture in the ceiling. Also, embedded in the walls are old glass bricks, and wine and beer bottles (my favourite were the blue ones). Other lighting is LED. While the bulbs cost considerably more than incandescent or compact fluorescent, they’ll last quite literally a lifetime, and use a mere fraction of the electricity.

Ann and Gord explain about their home.

Ann and Gord explain about their home.

Nearly all wood in the house is recycled, from local sources including the demolished Mayfair Lanes bowling alley (they even used the nails!).

The house has a composting toilet (no water use), a rainwater collection system for gardening, and a greywater (from sinks, laundry, and showers) treatment system, which is also used for irrigation.

It’s not easy being an eco-pioneer. Since no one has ever done the things that Ann and Gord have been doing, they have had to get each little step approved by the municipality. In fact, they had to shop around for a municipality that was willing to work with them to see this project through. Everything has been done to code, and that meant a few sacrifices. To appease the plumbing inspector, they had to install a flush toilet which has now been removed. They even had to install a $30,000 septic system, even though they aren’t going to be using it. Their toilet uses no water, and the rest of the wastewater is grey water, which is being treated and used for irrigation. Their modified cob mixture had to be strength tested in the lab. However, a nice by-product of building walls out of a non-flammable material is that you get a nice discount on your insurance.

The low-slope roofs will be living roofs, planted with native species. This replaces the vegetation that is lost where the house sits, and also helps insulate the home and purify the rainwater which also flows more evenly and slowly because the soil retains some water before it drains out.

Cob floors, before finishing

Cob floors, before finishing

Now, one thing that’s always bugged me about so-called “green” buildings is that they cost ever so much to build, that it’s hard to get people to buy into it. Every system in the Eco-Sense house has been evaluated on a triple-bottom-line basis. All things considered, Ann and Gord figure that their per-square-foot cost is around $140. Standard construction starts around $150 as I understand it. This is also including an estimate of their labour cost over 15 months, and a very pricey $60,000 alternative heating system. Therein lies the beauty of what Ann and Gord are doing. They are building Eco-Sense the way they see as best for the planet, but realize that other people might have different ideas. You could do more or you could do less. The point is that there are alternatives to frame construction for single family, two-storey dwellings.

This was the kicker for me. It made sense to my logical business brain. Here are two people, who have a

Recycled glass is used extensively in the home.

Recycled glass is used extensively in the home.

lifestyle they want to live that has less of an impact of the natural environment, and they are demonstrating that it can be done very well while remaining with reach of the average family. Once municipal codes and building techniques catch up with the innovation that these two eco-pioneers are forging in the Highlands District of Victoria, it will become even easier and more within reach of the common man.

Why should only the rich be able to afford to be nice to our planet when it comes to housing?

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

For more information, check out Eco-Sense.ca. Ann and Gord offer fascinating tours for the general public, as well as private tours for technical/tradespeople. Many thanks to Ann and Gord for sharing their work with us. More photos can be found on my flickr page.

EDIT: For even more, check out Gord’s Flickr page, and the eco-sense blog

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