The Property Market
Though close proximity to Vancouver generates a popular market for weekend getaways and vacation homes, in recent years, buyers have been interested in making a permanent move to the Sunshine Coast. While many buyers originate from Vancouver and surrounding areas of the Lower Mainland, Alberta and Ontario also represent a growing buyers’ market.
The most recent census data and projections show a modest population increase since 2011. As of June 2016, the Sunshine Coast was just 30 residents shy of 30,000 - a 4.6% increase from 2011. Sechelt and Gibsons gained 10% and 3.6% respectively, while Pender Harbour saw a slight population decrease of 2%. The next Canadian census is scheduled for 2021, which will likely show a much higher population across the Coast as more and more buyers are taking the opportunity to relocate to an area that boasts great amenities and health services and is just the right distance from the lifestyle of the ‘big city’.
The evaluation of property values on the Sunshine Coast is conducted by BC Assessment, a provincial crown corporation. Property assessments are conducted annually and are available to residents in January. These assessments inform residents of the estimated market value of their property based on an analysis conducted each year by a professional appraiser. Characteristics such as property size, age, condition and location as well as current sales in the area are taken into account when assessing value. The data collected by BC Assessment also assists the local government to determine property tax rates for the entire Sunshine Coast.
Buying a Home
The purchasing process can be an exhilarating and anxious time especially for first-time buyers, but the reward of owning property on the Sunshine Coast is well worth it. If you are in need of a Real Estate Agent, there are many local agents available on the Coast to help you find suitable properties. Here are a few guidelines to follow when considering making a purchase.
Mortgage Pre-Approval: Meeting with your financial representative to discuss a suitable mortgage will help you determine what you can afford and will allow you to set a workable price range.
Search for Homes: Shop the market for available homes that fall in your price range. Determine what characteristics and amenities you need and what you would be willing to forego to match the price range you’ve set. For example, you might need two bedrooms but can do without an ocean view. Also, take into account the location, proximity to schools or public transit and age of the property.
Viewing: Take a tour of the homes that stood out to you. Look at everything in as much detail as possible and ask a lot of questions. The answers you receive might influence your decision. Take note of any recent renovations or work that needs to be done as this may put you over your price range.
Be Aware of Additional Costs: If you are purchasing an apartment or condominium make sure to find out if there are strata or maintenance fees and how often they are paid. Also be aware of any serious maintenance issues that the apartment or building may need in the future. Also, Property Transfer Tax, a tax applied when a property legally changes hands, may apply to you. First time buyers may be exempt from the tax if they meet certain criteria such as if the purchase price is less than $500,000.
Get a Professional Home Inspection: You don’t want your dream home or property to become a nightmare. Hiring a professional home inspector will help you find any hidden issues, and potential costs, that may be in your home.
First Time Home Buyers' Program
The Government of British Columbia offers the First Time Home Buyers’ Program, which reduces or eliminates the amount of property transfer tax first time buyers pay when purchasing their first home. Buyers who qualify for the program may be eligible for either a full or partial exemption from the tax. To qualify for either exemption, buyers must:
Building a Home
The Sunshine Coast is a beautiful area to build your own home. There are a variety of lots to choose from and many offer spectacular views or are even right on the waterfront!
Though building your own home is quite an exciting time, there are many things to consider and a number of steps to take you from an empty lot to a completed home. It is important to start with appropriate building permits to ensure you are covered for your project. Acquiring the right insurance is another important first step when building a home. You will also need to find the right builders and contractors for your project.
Assisted & Retirement Housing
The Coast provides an ideal environment for retirees who seek the comfort of a community lifestyle and easily accessible amenities. This fact is borne out by local studies that show that the population of retired individuals has been steadily increasing over the past three decades. This trend is expected to continue, so in the short-term this means that the demand for speciality housing options will remain high and space in certain communities and facilities will be difficult to secure. In the longer term, more emphasis will be put on providing housing and service options for retirees, which will result in a broader range of options. Regardless, there is something for every lifestyle here on the Coast with the promise of more options to come. When making your decision, choosing a location close to existing or planned amenities is essential. If your needs change, there is always the option to contract a local expert to help add or change features in your home.
If renovating to meet changing needs isn’t an option, or for those who require added living assistance, there are a number of facilities, located in various neighbourhoods, that provide services and amenities for both independent living and 24-hour care. A list of properties and care facilities, as well as businesses that provide home care, can be found here.
Good Neighbour Guidelines
You’ve found your new home on the Sunshine Coast and you are beginning to settle in and make it your own... congratulations! As you transition into your new neighbourhood, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with local bylaws and regulations that may affect you and your new neighbours. A helpful resource is the SCRD Good Neighbour Guidelines. It includes specific regulations and bylaws covering everything from building permits; construction and demolition of buildings, fences, decking etc. on your property; requirements for home-based businesses; housing livestock; noise bylaws; pet regulations; outdoor water use restrictions; stream and watershed protection; use of fire pits on your property and much more. All of these guidelines apply to residences within the Sunshine Coast Regional District and have been created to protect public health and safety, the environment, and public and private properties.