Jeani Read, Vancouver Province, June 24, 2007
Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast and the Okanagan remain the most popular buyer targets in B.C. for recreational and retirement property. But buyer attention is going a lot farther afield than these traditional Big Three. Here is a rundown of choice choices, according the experts.
- Interest is increasing in the likes of even the once-distant Queen Charlotte Islands -- one of the best buys still available, says Rudy Nielsen, president and founder of NIHO Land & Cattle Company and Landcor Data Corp. of New Westminster. There are still 600-ft. oceanfront parcels available around the $300,000 and up mark, he says. As well, places like Burns Lake, previously ignored as too off-the-beaten path, are heating up. Five-acre serviced lots can still be found for $25,000, but prices are starting to climb, he warns.
- Cowichan Lake is another area that has taken off and shows how quickly prices and values can change in the recreational sector, Nielsen says. "Today, a serviced one-acre lot will cost $500,000 to $700,000. Two years ago they were selling for $150,000."
- There are good B.C. buys if you do your homework. For instance, one-acre lots west of Prince George in the Cluculz Lake area are selling for approximately $50,000 plus. Compare that to smaller lots in Merritt -- within the "golden circle" of Vancouver accessibility -- at $500,000 and more.
- In the Okanagan, anything within whistling distance of Kelowna is in the million-dollar-plus territory. If your mind is absolutely set on the southern Interior, look around Penticton, where wood-frame condominiums start at around $175,000, a relative bargain, says Nielsen. "It's still a bit of a sleeper and properties there are still fairly affordable compared with Kelowna, where it is very difficult to find something under $1 million."
Jennifer Podmore of MCP Intelligence concurs. "Penticton gets higher values for resort recreation property. One of the reasons Osoyoos and Penticton are hot is they have better access to beaches (than Kelowna). Penticton basically has walk-out beaches."
- Among Podmore's top picks are Rossland, Fernie, Nelson and Revelstoke, where you can get bigger acreage for less outlay. Next, she expects the whole Salmon Arm/Shuswap area to heat up.
"The Shuswaps were hot a few years ago, but looking at the land values in the Shuswaps and places like Monte Creek -- they're far undervalued compared to the Okanagan."
As well, Cranbrook is the gateway to B.C.'s playgrounds from the east, and Windermere, Fairmont Hot Springs and Radium are starting to take off. Popular, too, is the entire Kootenay region, including Kimberly.