British Columbia

Squamish, Bowen Island real estate deals luring Vancouver buyers

The astronomical prices of Lower Mainland real estate are driving would-be home owners to Bowen Island and Squamish.

Young families wanting a toehold in the housing market are looking up the Sea to Sky for alternatives

House and condo sales on Bowen Island and Squamish booming as more Lower Mainland buyers search for affordability. (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press)

Home seekers priced out of the Lower Mainland's astronomical real estate market are increasingly heading on up to Sea to Sky country to realize their dream of home ownership. 

This past weekend the 65 units of an unfinished condominium development in Squamish sold out in just 90 minutes. The one-, two- and three-bedroom units in the ParkHouse complex ranged in price from $167,000 to $449,900.

A spokesperson said 30 per cent of the buyers were from the Vancouver area, while another 60 per cent were first-time buyers from Squamish. Another ten per cent were from Whistler.

On nearby Bowen Island, where homes on large lots can still be had for under $700,000, sales have also been picking up with one island real estate agent reporting an influx of young families from the greater Vancouver area.

From apartment to acreage

"You can sell a tear down in East Vancouver for a million and come here and buy a beautiful place with acreage," said Dee Elliott.

Elliott claims over half her clientele now fall into this general description: First-time house buyers, aged 30 to 45 with young children, former apartment or condo dwellers from high-density areas like the West End or Commercial Drive. 

Bowen Island will always have limited appeal to buyers because of the ferry, but the recent addition of a high speed bus service from Horseshoe Bay to downtown has helped ease the pain for commuters.

In 2008 the global economic turndown devastated the island's real estate market, a good portion of which is made up of recreational properties.

Acting Mayor Maureen Nicholson says signs that the market is finally rebounding are everywhere.  

"The activity has been high," she told CBC. "There's been properties that have moved this summer that have been on the market for years."

With files from Bal Brach

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