Island home buyer’s purchasing house as principal residence

Majority of Island residents purchasing home as principal residence.

Confidence in the Vancouver Island housing market is fuelling buyers to purchase homes locally.

The Vancouver Island Real Estate Board’s annual Buyer Profile indicates 96 per cent of people are buying a principal residence.

In Nanaimo, that number is slightly less, with 94 per cent buying a principal residence. Of those, 50 per cent are from the community and about 13 per cent are coming for other areas on the Island. Only two per cent of the market was comprised of investment or rental purchases.

“People are moving here to live here, it hasn’t gone to the investment speculators,” said Jim Stewart, president of the VIREB board. “One of the major reasons for that is lifestyle and affordability and next accessibility to all the lifestyle choices we have here.”

Unlike some other markets, there aren’t huge fluctuations in housing prices on the Island, said Stewart. That makes people confident that if they decide to sell their home in the future, they will at least receive the original investment back, if not more.

“In a few other markets it’s different, outside of Canada there is such risk,” said Stewart. “People always want to know they can get loot out of their house – it gives stability in the market.”

In the Parksville/Qualicum area, only 25 per cent of buyers are local, with the majority – 76 per cent – buying from elsewhere in the province. About 55 per cent are buying retirement homes. And in the Comox Valley area, 37 per cent of buyers were local, with 45 per cent acquiring homes for retirement.

The overall Vancouver Island buyer profile indicates 16 per cent purchasing their first home and 41 per cent buying for retirement.

Stewart said the annual report is becoming a valuable document, with 25 per cent – 1,582 – of the surveys returned. VIREB represents about 10 per cent of all buyers in the province, making its data valuable to governments and organizations for planning.

“In the survey world, that’s a pretty good measure,” said Stewart. “It allows them to know what is happening on Vancouver Island.”

Over the last three years, the Parksville/Qualicum area had the highest survey response with an average of 28.3 per cent. The Nanaimo average was 26 per cent.