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Island offers homebuyers more stability, says report

Buyer profile shows 96% of houses in the region purchased for principal residence

The Vancouver Island homebuyer gets good value and relative price stability, compared to his counterpart in the Lower Mainland or Victoria, according to the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board's 2011 Buyer Profile, which provides a snapshot of what buyers were looking for last year


The profile is an annual survey used to paint a picture of real estate sales activity and market trends in the VIREB coverage area, which extends from the Malahat to the northern tip of Vancouver Island.

The typical home sold last year had three bedrooms, two bathrooms and listed for $350,000. It's considerably less than a comparable home in either Vancouver or Victoria.


Many buyers are attracted to Nanaimo by the climate, location and housing affordability, compared to other coastal cities.


The survey is based on voluntary submissions from respondents. Of 6,034 surveys sent out, 1,587, or 26.3%, were filled out and returned.


The average selling price closely reflects the Nanaimo market, where $358,00 was the average selling price in June, compared to $198,000 in Port Alberni, or about $400,000 in Parksville.


The buyer profile paints a picture of market stability since 96% of homes sold last year were bought by buyers interested in buying for a principal residence.


Just 17% of those purchasers were first-time buyers.


And 42% of homes were for retirement properties. Only 13% of buyers used RRSPs for a down payment.


The VIREB region is "not as volatile" as the Lower Mainland, said Darrell Paysen, VIREB member services manager.


No matter where buyers come from, they come to this region for affordable prices, compared to the Lower Mainland or the provincial capital.


The Buyer Profile identifies the Vancouver Island buyer as typically mature and often a retiree.

"Vancouver Island is clearly both an economic engine and a retirement village," said Cameron Muir, chief economist of the British Columbia Real Estate Association, in a press release.


"The survey confirms that little speculation is occurring in the Vancouver Island housing market with just 3% of home sales to investors."


Two out of five Island home-buyers buy a retirement home and nearly 40% come from off the Island.


The profile can be used as a resource to learn more about specific market areas in the region.


"It's just a compilation of a whole bunch of information that makes you scratch your head and say: 'Wow,'" said Jim Stewart, VIREB past president.


Published: Tuesday, July 10, 2012 by Darrell Bellaart, Daily News


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