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Vancouver Island real estate searches see major uptick

While interest and prices may be rising, one of the most notable trends taking place on Vancouver Island is the limited supply of housing.
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MacAulay Point Park in Victoria.

In what was one of the less pleasant summers we’ve had here in British Columbia  full of heat waves, moths and forest fires like we’ve never seen before  one part of the province fuelled plenty of interest from home seekers.

From top to bottom, Vancouver Island saw a major uptick in real estate searches on REW.ca this summer, as month-over-month queries continue to rise quickly.

Interest in property on Vancouver Island isn’t contained to home seekers on the island itself. Many Greater Vancouver residents are showing interest in cities like Nanaimo and Victoria as well.

After a summer full of fires in the Interior, Vancouver Island is looking more attractive than ever for Lower Mainland residents looking for vacation properties and second homes.

Decreased supply

While interest and prices may be rising, one of the most notable trends taking place on Vancouver Island is the limited supply of housing.

There were 51% fewer homes on the market in August 2021 on Vancouver Island than in the year prior, with major cities like Victoria having 57.8% less inventory.

According to the British Columbia Real Estate Association, sales are returning to normal, while supply is hitting record lows. This is a trend taking shape right across Canada, with all of the major political parties running for office promising to take on the lack of supply.

To those who already live on Vancouver Island, the recent uptick in search activity should come as no surprise. Vancouver Island is less busy, less densely populated, and arguably every bit as stunning as Vancouver.

Residential home prices also continue to be more affordable on Vancouver Island compared to Greater Vancouver. Last month, the average residential price of a home in Greater Vancouver was $1,174,176, compared to $695,085 on Vancouver Island in general and $875,711 in Victoria.

Rising prices

Though the average residential price of a home on Vancouver Island in general and Victoria specifically are both under the provincial average in British Columbia, prices are still rising steadily.

Over the last 12 months, no region in B.C. has seen a larger percentage increase in home prices than Vancouver Island, with prices on residential homes jumping 29.5% year over year. Outside of Vancouver Island, Kamloops and Chilliwack are the only other areas that have seen price growth of over 20%.

What might be most surprising to investors and home seekers is the increase in interest for Vancouver Island’s less populated cities. One might expect to see Nanaimo and Victoria draw more queries on REW, but there’s an equal amount of search growth in smaller markets like Parksville, Ladysmith and Sooke. Of the top 10 largest cities on Vancouver Island, all 10 have seen an increase in search queries on REW this summer.

An unprecedented start to 2021 still has B.C. on track to set all kinds of records this year, and though sales have slowed, an increased interest in areas like Vancouver Island could be an indication that demand is still trending upward. With limited supply and interest rates remaining depressed, we could see prices continue to rise on Vancouver Island in the months to come.

In a recent interview with the Vancouver Real Estate Podcast, REW president Simon Bray highlighted three markets other than Vancouver Island that have been standouts on the home search platform, garnering significant interest from home seekers across the province.