Linda Bjur stands in front of one of two houses she has for sale in Youbou — this one with a view of Cowichan Lake. Both houses were constructed when the mill was still in operation.

Injection needed to revitalize local real estate market

Five-year drought: Job creation may be key to renewing the area’s real estate market

It’s never an easy task to sell a home, but it can be even harder when your house sits on the market for an extended period of time with no buyers in sight.

During the past five years, since 2008, the Cowichan Valley has seen a drop in sales with more houses being listed than there are buyers to purchase them.

For the month of May, the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board shows that in the area there has been a 16 per cent drop in sales since the same time last year.

The numbers since 2008 are similar, though not quite as drastic. Between 2008 and 2009, sales in the valley were down 8 per cent, which was the same as between 2009 and 2010. Since 2008 specifically in the Cowichan Lake area — including Lake Cowichan, Youbou, and Honeymoon Bay — between 65 and 43 units have sold per year.

Sandy Stinson, a realtor with Re/Max in Lake Cowichan, attributes the trend to the worldwide economic downturn since 2008.

“It’s been really tough the last five years,” says Stinson. “Prices are down about 30 per cent since 2008. In terms of sales they are down probably about half.”

Stinson says that since the provincial election and the province reverting back to the GST, things are looking up.

“We’ve enjoyed some good activity for May and June so far, but it’s hard to know if it’ll be sustainable. We need jobs,” says Stinson.

In 2012, Stinson says that the Cowichan Lake area stats were up 10 to 15 per cent over Duncan and Cowichan Bay respectively.

“And I think that was because of some newer homes on the waterfront that ended up selling, probably at cost,” says Stinson.

However, she reiterates that the lack of industry is really at the core of the problem here in the Cowichan Lake area. In terms of future, she is optimistic, but says there are many factors involved.

“It’s anybody’s guess. It’s whatever happens in the world and what happens with jobs and what happens with Youbou lands is a big one for our little area here,” says Stinson. “All we need here is about 200 jobs.”

An expanding choice of flights at the Nanaimo Airport could help with this problem.

“Now that West Jet is coming, as of (June) 20 into Nanaimo, people will have their families on the island and hopefully we’ll enjoy the same sort of prosperity that happened in Comox.”

Linda Bjur has two houses for sale in Youbou. She has lived in the small town for the past 50 years and says she has seen a lot of change in that time. Youbou, in its heyday, was full of activity with many families living in the area.

“It was wonderful. Youbou was bustling,” says Bjur.

She also feels that the area needs an injection of jobs and things for seniors, especially, to do.

“I do think it will come back again,” she says. “But we need to have somebody that does some outside the box researching about what could be done.”


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