A quick scan of real estate listings on vicnews.com this week found a near-new three-bedroom, three-bathroom 1,460-square-foot home in the Six Mile area of View Royal had sold for less than $400,000.
Another page finds a luxurious four-bedroom, five-bathroom palace on Bear Mountain listed for nearly $1.4 million.
Neither is at the extreme end of pricing on the West Shore, but the spread gives a good indication that there are numerous options or home buyers looking to either stay here to upgrade or scale down, or relocate from the region’s core municipalities.
The prevailing wisdom is that buyers can get more house for their money in View Royal, Colwood, Langford and beyond than Saanich and Victoria.
Realtor Gary McInnis of Pemberton Holmes calls that a fair statement of the market. But with nearby amenities cropping up around the West Shore and various configurations of housing being added regularly, it’s also fair to say the area “offers lots of choices,” he says.
“If you look at what the median price is (the current MLS Home Price Index benchmark is $556,200 for a typical single family home), you can find plenty of opportunity in that range out here.”
McInnis, who lives in the Colwood’s Royal Bay neighbourhood, recently sold a several-year-old detached home in Langford for about $359,000. For those people who need more space or want a larger or more private yard, established neighbourhoods in View Royal, Triangle Mountain, the aforementioned Bear Mountain, among others, offer those types of features.
“The more that the infrastructure grows, and the services, the more people don’t need to go into the core,” McInnis says.
DFH Realty broker manager Susan Dunn agrees on the large amount of choice for buyers, from condos and townhomes, to bare land stratas and ranch properties.
She notes that younger buyers tend to prefer newer construction, of which there is plenty around the West Shore, but especially in the more urban municipalities of Langford, Colwood and View Royal. Those with legal suites built in give more flexibility on size and mortgage costs, she adds.
“Then again you get some people who are still looking for fixer-uppers,” she says, noting that some families don’t mind tackling older homes with potential. “With the popularity of the home reno shows on TV, we’re seeing a little more of that.”
With interest rates not likely to jump anytime soon, the affordability factor continues to play in the West Shore’s favour, McInnis says.
“For a lot of people, it comes down to ‘what can I afford and how close is it to school for my kids?’ Walk scores – how close everything is – are going to become more a part of the criteria for people to make a purchase.”
Even the argument about the longer commute can be shot down, he says.
“I can say the value overwhelms the commute and the gas costs when it comes down to what it’s costing me per month, especially for people who have a legal suite providing extra income.”
Q: WHAT ARE SOME WEST SHORE DEVELOPMENTS TO WATCH FOR?
With West Shore municipalities continuing to allow for infill housing in previously forested or fallow sections of land, especially Langford and Colwood, prospective buyers are keeping an eye on several areas.
Among them is the Westhills development, which continues to move along. Residents already living there and those who might wish to later are no doubt aware of Langford’s plan to eventually punch through Langford Parkway all the way to Sooke Road. As well, the prospect of a new YMCA and library to the site will only help attract buyers.
Other areas of note to watch for are projects in Colwood, such as Ocean Grove and the recently approved Seafield Cottages, both in the Esquimalt Lagoon area.
And while the first phase of the Royal Bay project on the former gravel pit is still months if not years away from groundbreaking, it already has people watching what’s in store closely.
A good way to monitor upcoming developments in your community is to check municipal websites regularly.
GREATER VICTORIA MARKET UPDATE » AS OF JULY 7/14 COURTESY VICTORIA REAL ESTATE BOARD
» 122 / 583 — NET UNCONDITIONAL SALES / TOTAL, JULY 2013
» 250 / 1,213 — NEW LISTINGS / TOTAL, JULY 2013
» 4,570 / 4,772 — ACTIVE RESIDENTIAL LISTINGS / TOTAL, JULY 2013