Squamish the place to invest in 2017

Shane Garstin is a Vancouver real estate investor looking to buy either a house or a townhome in Squamish in the hopes of cashing in on the recent hot housing market in the Sea to Sky Corridor. 

“For investors it is definitely the place to be just because the rental rates up there are really crazy,” he said. “It is supply and demand, that is all it is. Not enough housing and too many people moving up there.” 

He is currently looking at a house that is $799,000 that he would rent out. 

“You are looking at $2,300 or $2,400 for the top and $1,800 for the bottom, so there is automatic cash flow,” he said. 

He is betting the rental market is going to stay tight for a while yet and that will keep rents relatively high and make his investment worthwhile in the longer term, Garstin said. 

“They just can’t keep up, probably, with the permits that are going in for new developments because there is so much demand,” he said. “[And] there’s not a ton of areas to build.” 

Garstin is typical of a proportion of her buyers, said Angie Vazquez, real estate agent with Thornhill Real Estate Group in Squamish.

“For apartments, I see a lot of investors,” she said. “With the new regulations for mortgages it is going to be more difficult for younger people so they either co-own with their parents or they have to rent, so a lot of investors are looking.” 

As of October, homebuyers are put through more of a stress test to ensure their budget can withstand an interest rate hike. Of the 17 people Vazquez had looking at The Main condominium development downtown, about five wanted to keep them and the rest were investors, she said. 

Currently the market is quieter than this time last year, Vazquez said, but more stable.

“It is still busy and there is more inventory,” she said.

In October of 2016 there were 33 sales compared to 68 in October of 2015, according to figures from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. 

A total of 569 properties sold from January to September 2016, compared to 572 during the same time period in 2015, according to data provided by Vazquez.

Benchmark selling prices have continued to increase. 

In October, the benchmark for a Squamish house was $770,300, up 25 per cent over October of 2015. Townhouses sold for a median price of $625,200 in October, up about 34 percent over last year, while condos had a benchmark of $357,500, up 22 per cent. 

Houses are staying on the market longer this year: 75 days as opposed to 49 last year. But townhouses are being snapped up faster: 13 days on the market this year compared to 24 in 2015. Condominiums are going quicker this year as well at 48 days on the market compared to 89 days last year.

About 25 per cent of her buyers are from Ontario, Vazquez said, 50 per cent are from Vancouver and 15 per cent from Whistler. The other 10 per cent come from the rest of the world, including China, Mexico and the U.S.

“Dual income, no kids – a lot of them,” she said, adding recently more people are interested in smaller places. 

Being one of the first communities outside of Metro Vancouver that doesn’t have the 15 per cent foreign buyers tax has impacted sales here, Vazquez said. 

“In fact, I sold a $3-million property in Brackendale recently to Chinese buyers because they had the tax in the city and didn’t have the tax here, so they chose us, which I think is amazing,” she said.

Overall, she said, buyers are mostly health conscious sport enthusiasts with well-paying jobs in the city that allow them to commute part time and get outside in the district the rest of the week.

“We call it the nouveau Squamish,” Vazquez said. “Very successful young couples who choose Squamish as their forever home.” 

@ Copyright 2016 Squamish Chief