New community development on the Sunshine Coast: Is strata living right for you?
The Sunshine Coast is earning some serious press lately for its affordable living options that not only offer amazing sunset views, but also great outdoor leisure lifestyle; friendly, welcoming communities; and a revitalized local scene for shopping and dining. Urban growth also brings increased options for buying community lifestyle homes within strata developments.
Stacey Buchhorn is a Realtor with Sutton WestCoast Realty, and a Sunshine Coast resident. Living and working in the area keeps Stacey up-to-date on real estate trends, as well as new neighbourhoods developing around condo and townhome developments.
“On the Sunshine Coast’s south end, we’re experiencing high demand for the new multi-home developments,” says Buchhorn. “Working with homebuyers moving to our communities, I’m seeing three main groups of people buying into strata developments: first-time buyers, who appreciate the price point compared to detached homes; people who are downsizing and looking for a lower-maintenance home ownership experience; and more recently, recreational property purchasers who want access to the lifestyle without the upkeep of a second home.”
Not sure if a strata development will meet your needs? Working with an experienced Realtor can help potential home-buyers with making the best decision for their personal circumstances. Strata developments are small communities where home owners elect a council, follow bylaws, and outsource property maintenance, with costs covered by monthly strata fees.
Strata developments are all independent, with unique bylaws, so it is important to be aware of obligations, responsibilities and rights before choosing to buy (or live) in a strata unit. Your Realtor can help you to learn about, and understand, the ins and outs of strata living along with specifics of your strata’s bylaws.
Here are some of the questions to have answered before you consider joining a strata community...
• How do strata work?
• What do I actually own?
• The 4 R’s: rights, rules, regulations, restrictions
• Does strata living suit my lifestyle?
The next step is learning about various strata developments – like any community, they all have their own character, a compilation of the home owners arriving before you. This is where a Realtor who is not only experienced, but is based locally, can share “insider information” about each strata development. For example, what is the average age of residents, are people around during the week or daytime hours, is it family-friendly, etc.
“There are great strata options in the south end, at several different price points. Presales for Edgewater at Porpoise Bay have moved quickly, but some waterfront units are available starting at $699,900, and 1230 sq.ft townhomes at $429,900,” says Buchhorn. “Sechelt’s geothermal development, Wakefield, has been very well received, and is also priced from $699,900. And the beautiful Watermark condominium building has penthouse suites ranging from $1.2-1.3million.”
Offering a moderate climate and overall West Coast wonderfulness, the Sunshine Coast is a 40-minute ferry trip from Horseshoe Bay (no charge for return fare), with an additional transportation option offered via seaplanes between Vancouver and Sechelt.
Sunshine Coast attracting a younger generation
The Sunshine Coast has long been regarded as an ideal location for second homes, vacation properties and laid-back lifestyle. These notions still hold true, but the high cost of home ownership in Metro Vancouver is leading to increased residential development within the core communities on the coast, and following, some second looks (and home purchases) from first-time homebuyers and young families.
Stacey Buchhorn is a Realtor with Sutton WestCoast Realty, and Sunshine Coast resident. She has been working with an increasing number of families with younger children, with eyes on the Sunshine Coast for affordable homes. The moderate climate, natural landscape, endless outdoor recreation and a thriving arts scene combine to create wonderful family-friendly communities, while remaining close to family and friends in the Lower Mainland.
“The Sunshine Coast is a quick trip from the Lower Mainland – just a 40-minute ferry ride out of Horseshoe Bay. And many first-time visitors don’t realize until they’re leaving, the ferry doesn’t cost anything for the return trip,” says Buchhorn. Seaplanes offer an additional option, and make regular trips between Vancouver and Sechelt.
Gibsons is the first community stop of the Langdale ferry, and has been building up a stronger community core over the last few years. The Gibsons Public Market just recently opened with great community response to date, with plans to function as a gathering place for friends and neighbours. The market development is part of the town’s strategic plan for 2016-18, along with ongoing development of affordable housing, and improved ferry and transit service. (Full plan available at www.gibsons.ca/strategic-plan.)
A bold move away from Vancouver might not first seem an option, given the prevalence of head offices and start-ups in the downtown core and outlying areas like Railtown and False Creek. But the mobility of many jobs, with today’s technology to work remotely and “on the road,” may create flexibility opportunities in some industries.
The Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) reports that within the coast’s West Howe Sound, which is located to the northeast of Gibsons, much of the recent growth and large housing in this area is due to commuters working in Vancouver. This area includes Gambier and Keats Islands, and is also home to the most summer camps in all of British Columbia, again, due to the proximity to Vancouver (www.scrd.ca).
Flexible work schedules lend well to taking advantage of an outdoor lifestyle, from exploring the area by foot or cycle, fishing, diving, climbing, or trekking between artisan lairs. As a case in point that “leisurely” has made room for “active,” the recent addition of Coast Gravity Park offers Canada’s first low elevation mountain bike park, with 12 trails and shuttle service.
The Sunshine Coast offers aboundant opportunities
Thinking of the Sunshine Coast, it’s hard not to get excited about endless shorelines, colourful sunsets and an unhurried pace of living. The population may soar in the warmer months, but for many, the Sunshine Coast is not only a place to play, but also to live, and most definitely, to work.
Christine Turner took the retail plunge in 2014, opening Embellish Emporium in Upper Gibsons, a gift and décor shop featuring a mix of new and vintage items. Since then, she’s opened Flourish Boutique and Cur8ed Home, boutique shops for fashion and furniture, respectively. Her success has been a labour of love, learning about the Sunshine Coast retail scene along the way.
“Compared to Lower Mainland, it’s taken me longer to attract people to my shops, but once they find us, they become very loyal customers. Competitive pricing and excellent customer service, along with offering unique products, have been my winning combination,” says Turner. “The other secret to success has been finding the right employees – my key people are absolutely invaluable to my success, and are totally invested in the business.”
Alongside retail and food service establishments, there is a large welcome mat for entrepreneurs with services and specialized skills to offer to the community. Turner enjoys her participation in a small but mighty movement of "shop local/shop small business" supporters, and strongly believes in the power of spending local to keep money in the community.
“As local businesses, we support local artisans, create jobs, pay into taxes that help the community and we are very giving to local charities and fundraisers,” says Turner. “In turn, our involvement at the local level is a win-win – we contribute to the success of our own communities, and we also build customer loyalty critical to our success.”
Stacey Buchhorn also works on the Sunshine Coast, as an experienced Realtor with Sutton West Coast Realty. As an area resident, she has in-depth knowledge of not only residential neighbourhoods, but also demographics of the communities surrounding retail and commercial areas. Considering opening up shop (or office, or restaurant)? Working with a Realtor who is also a Sunshine Coast resident will be your own secret to success.
“The Sunshine Coast remains a hot market, and new listings get offers as they hit the market. Housing prices are an excellent value with a 12-month median price of $499K for a detached home, which leaves a bigger envelope to invest into your business,” says Buchhorn. “A well-connected Realtor will know about upcoming properties for sale, as well as provide local history on locations where different businesses have flourished, and help you find best value – and location – to work, live and yes, play.”
Discovering life in the slow lane
Imagine living in a community of friends and neighbours, where people stop to chat on the street, and the roads are free and clear to travel, with not a parking meter in sight. Days are full of possibilities: go to work, work from home, take a hike, go mountain biking, visit artist studios and shops. Welcome to the Sunshine Coast - where your imagination comes to life.
The Sunshine Coast is north of the Lower Mainland, reached by a 40-minutes ferry trip out of Horseshoe Bay. The vertical stretch of coastal land includes the main communities of Gibsons, Roberts Creek, Sechelt and Pender Harbour, along with smaller residential and vacation property areas. Highway 101 connects the communities, and winds along the western shore, featuring the beautiful views of the Strait of Georgia.
"It's a real change of pace from Vancouver - a slowed-down and relaxed lifestyle, where you really enjoy talking with people in the grocery store rather than just making polite small talk," says Stacey Buchhorn, Realtor with Sutton West Coast Realty and a Sunshine Coast resident. "I haven't had so many friends, or so many conversations with neighbours since I was young!"
The Sunshine Coast seems to have it all: friendly communities, active outdoor lifestyle, lively arts scene, moderate climate and real estate prices well below Lower Mainland averages. January's median selling price for detached homes on the Sunshine Coast was $451,191 (with 32 completed sales). That translates into cash-in-pocket for buyers who are selling their Vancouver-area homes, or for current renters, the dream of home ownership finally realized.
Escape Traffic Gridlock
Ask yourself, "what is the cost financially and to your well being when you spend hours in traffic jams every day?"
Vancouver ranks fourth in North America for traffic congestion behind Mexico City, L.A. and San Francisco.
Stacey Buchhorn, an experienced Realtor with Sutton West Coast Realty, is a Sunshine Coast resident and knows firsthand about the many values of living here, just 40 minutes from Vancouver: “Leave the stress of bumper-to-bumper traffic behind and enjoy the Salish Sea, an ocean paradise. You will feel like you are on a holiday 365 days a year.”
Our Sunshine Coast is a scenic shoreline from Gibsons to Powell River. The view is a dream come true, but the price of waterfront living is within reach. Oceanfront living here is comparable in price to a Vancouver townhome or condo. You can wake up to the sounds of waves crashing at your front door, in a safe community, with the joys of big city life close by.
The price is right, the lifestyle supreme
“Despite the market-wide drop in home sales at the end of 2016, the Sunshine Coast has remained a very strong market. Home sales in 2016 increased significantly over 2015, while most of greater Vancouver experienced the opposite,” says Buchhorn. “While overall prices have risen, the increase in price index hasn’t been to the extreme seen elsewhere, and the area provides a very attractive lifestyle opportunity for buyers from the Lower Mainland as well as out of province and the U.S.”
World-class diving, kayaking, boating and biking are just a few of the activities that are a big attraction. A surprisingly wide range of properties are available on the Sunshine Coast, including boat access vacation homes, lock-and-go condos near a marina, and acreage for hobby farms.
“Vancouver buyers ready for a slower pace, or a semi-retired lifestyle, are able to purchase beautiful view properties while keeping some money in their pockets from the sales of their Lower Mainland residences,” says Buchhorn. “People looking to move to the Sunshine Coast from out of the country will appreciate the lifestyle afforded by our moderate climate, along with no extra cost for foreign buyers.”
Live, work, invest or retire, the choice is yours. Take a ferry or 20-minute float plane ride to downtown Vancouver or YVR. A scenic drive to Whistler is just two hours away.
Make your move to the Sunshine Coast. You will breathe better, relax more and enjoy a lifestyle that is truly super natural BC at its best.