Housing market stable in Nanaimo

Typical homeowner tends to purchase three-bedroom, two-bathroom home on Vancouver Island, according to survey

Not too busy and not too expensive – Nanaimo is just right.

The Vancouver Island Real Estate Board’s annual survey of Island homebuyers paints a stable picture of people who want a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home.

Based on conversations with his clients, Nanaimo Realtor Jim Stewart, the board’s past president, said it’s the Harbour City’s recreation opportunities drawing people to those homes, which are affordable compared to nearby cities Victoria and Vancouver.

“It falls back to lifestyle,” Stewart said. “We’re going to continue to see that.”

The real estate board’s annual buyer profile is based on survey responses from residential buyers on Vancouver Island in 2011. The questionnaire went to 6,034 people, with 1,587 responding.

The three-bedroom, two-bath home priced in the $350,000 range, was most popular. The survey also found that nearly 40 per cent of buyers are from outside the Island, with 42 per cent of homes purchased last year intended as retirement properties.

Retirees are not interested in the condo life yet, preferring the privacy of a single-family home over working with strata or sharing walls with neighbours, Stewart said.

“It’s the freedom you get in a single-family home,” he said.

The baby-boom generation retire as early as age 55, making Nanaimo retirees active and involved in sports, recreation and the community.

“It just reinforces our lifestyle here,” Stewart said.

He said the housing market overall is stable, without the large swings plaguing markets around the world.

“We’re doing OK,” Stewart said. “A flat market is a good sign for stability when you look at the big picture.”